Defra pledges cash boost for bee research

Defra pledged to increase funding of bee research by £4.3m last week, in an attempt to safeguard the pollinators that are under threat from pests and diseases.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced at the Royal Society of Chemistry that around £2.3 million would be given to the National Bee Unit over the next two years, to support its efforts to help England's beekeepers deal with the problems facing their colonies.

Over the past two years, Britain's bee colonies have suffered significant losses due to a combination of the weather, the varroa mite and other factors which require further investigation by researchers.

Defra will also be putting an extra £400,000 towards other bee health research, every year for the next five years.

Benn said: "Bees are vulnerable to a number of threats. Pests and diseases, when combined with poor summers, can leave colonies unable to survive the winter."

"We must get to grips with this to see just how serious a problem it is, what the impacts on pollination are and what we can do in response."

However, in November the British Beekeepers' Association, NFU and other organisations told minister Jane Kennedy that £1.6 million a year is needed to stem the massive decline in the British bee population.

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