Import of NZ bees into UK

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Somerford 

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I appreciate this might not be the right part of the forum to raise this issue, but I do so in order to get the most possible reads and therefore more influence of the issue I raise below.

I have been approached by an individual who informed me that a large consignment of package bees were being imported into the UK early this spring to be placed at a location around 10 miles from my own colonies.

From the limited information I had, I have pieced together the whole story and it appears to be as below.

The Co-Op own/operate large farms at Down Ampney, near Cirencester, Glos and have set an agreement in place with a commerical bee farmer that means he will operate 300+ colonies on the site. The bees will be owned by the Co-Op and they will bottle the honey for sale in their shops.

The issue is that the hives are to be populated by New Zealand package bees which will no doubt swarm (10% ?) and therefore infect the local gene pool.

While I appreciate that imported queens have been sold in the UK for many a year I am extremely concerned as to the effect this might have on the local I(and national) gene pool.

It appears that the commercial beekeeper has said he is liasing with a local bee supplier (guess which one...he lives near Cheltenham) to source the bees but I BET MY BOTTOM DOLLAR they have no idea as to the true source of the bees.

So what do we do ? I am very motivated to raise MERRY HELL about this as I think it has real issues for the local gene pool. I am going to be contacting Paul Monaghan, Head of Social Goals at the Co-Ops head office, and also their head of agriculture. I am also trying to ascertain the person's name who has been directly involved with the agreement.

This could/has potentially damaging PR for the Co-Op, and for good reason. Obviously the bees are on order and would only be sold by the gentleman via nucs to beekeepers in the UK anyway, BUT newbeeks could boycott the purchases as it is all about knowing the source of your bees....TRACEABILITY !!!!!

Please can concerned members reply below.....we need to act fast on this !!

regards

Somerford


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I see your concerns Somerford, not that the Beefarmer and I choose that description as opposed to beekeeper as there seems to be a difference.
I must ask is your concern with 300 + hives populated with NewZealand bees or is it that the SUPPLIER is a bit, shall we say, questionable over the bees exact origins, and the claim that the bees are a genuine pure NewZealand bee ( or some less desireable mix / mongrel)

From my very limited knowledge of bee genetics there seems to be a probability that most UK bees are not of a PURE strain, and unless you live in a very remote area are unlikely to be so?

I keep NewZealands, Carniolians and Greeks, not necessarily in the same apiary... I try to keep them separately.

None the less if the supplier is claiming to sell a pure strain of bees, surely the Trading Standards people can get involved if he is being misleading.

Remember when Manuel was sold a rat and
told it was a hampster in Faulty Towers?
 

Chris B 

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I think the bigger concern is the workers not the queens. 300 NZ queens in an area will have a big influence locally (Is Down Ampney near any of Ron Hoskins Swindon bees?). But 300 packages is at least 3 million bees, plenty of hiding room for any nasties that want to hitchhike.
 

Poly Hive 

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I don't envy the Bee Farmer when his docile yellows get crossed with the local drones and change temper... lol

PH
 

Hivemaker. 

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Don't think the Queens getting crossed with the local drone population will be much of an issue,expect they will also import new queens every season from New Zealand, and requeen the colonys.
 

Gardenbees 

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I'm sorry?? BEES are to be transported from the other side of the world?
Sending queens is bad enough - hundreds of packages is outrageous. How strong will their immune systems be? Even if they are completely free of disease, isn't this exactly the kind of thing that is likely to lead to increased susceptibility to infections - causing existing problems to spread more readily rather than be fought off successfully. Even in the short term this seems like a bad idea given the current problems.

(Exactly the kind of thing it would have been interesting to hear Dave Cushman's views on...:()

Thousands of unnecessary air-miles is also a serious blot on the Co-op's "sustainability" copybook, apart from anything else. Is is really that difficult to produce enough bees here in the UK? From the rate at which mine try to swarm the minute my back's turned, I would suggest No. I can see no advantages to importing packages, and a high risk of "hitchhikers" despite precautions.:mad::cuss:
 

eddiespangle 

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I think the bigger concern is the workers not the queens. 300 NZ queens in an area will have a big influence locally (Is Down Ampney near any of Ron Hoskins Swindon bees?). But 300 packages is at least 3 million bees, plenty of hiding room for any nasties that want to hitchhike.
Down Apney is about 10 miles from Ron's apiary!
 

rog 

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I think we should all be very concerned. I believe there is far to much importing of all species into this country. It is a huge risk to our own bio security. Co-op as a farming company should know better after all the disease imports we have had in the last ten years in agriculture.
 

Crg 

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From my very limited knowledge of bee genetics there seems to be a probability that most UK bees are not of a PURE strain, and unless you live in a very remote area are unlikely to be so?
Exactly - the local gene pool is not going to be anything. If anything the local gene pool is going to be infecting other breeds/strains ;)

Concern over importing bees is valid though. However until the UK can sort itself out and breed and provide enough good bees, this is always going to be an issue.

People seem to like to complain or raise merry hell, but don't like working together to sort out the underlying cause.
 

Poly Hive 

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There are at least three issues in the over all "issue".

One is Bee Farmers do it, and the majority of imported queens seem to go to them. I have held 200 queens on my lap. Not my queens I add.

2nd is the desire to have instant quiet bees. So r/q with a NZ and happy days....
Until her virgins mate with local drones and then very often very unhappy days... so r/q with NZ and off the cycle goes again.

3d. Is to have an instant young queen as that will stop swarming. Uh huh... flying pigs on the horizon I see.

So until this can be addressed it is going to chunter on as it has done for over a hundred years.

In the UK we are just so good at getting our beekeeping act together. Ain't we just?

PH
 

peteinwilts 

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I heard 400!

you know you have my support!
 

peteinwilts 

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Earlier I left a comment on the CO-OP's Plan B website.

The website is devoted in saving bees, and in particular, trying to save the British Black Bee.

.... makes it a bit of a joke really!

awaiting feedback!
 

jezd 

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I heard 400!

you know you have my support!
Interesting that this story has come to light, I did hear about it a few weeks and wondered if and when in would get some focus, I was told a higher figure than 400 mind - but maybe my memory is failing me now.

Not sure how the Coop square this one off with all the other good work they have done. I dont blame the farmer but assume those paying have said we want it 'now'.
 

admin 

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I don't envy the Bee Farmer when his docile yellows get crossed with the local drones and change temper... lol

PH
That was my first thoughts as well PH.
I looked afte a couple of hives for a lady on holiday once,the bees were pure NZ Italians that had crossed with Carnies.

They were the worst bees I have ever handled,it took me 3 attempts over 3 days to get a frame out without being attacked,they then followed me over 150 yards and tried to sting..
 

Russel 

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Just a thought but how does this fit in with the NBU's "Healthy Bees Plan"

"Outcome 3: Effective biosecurity minimises the risks from pests, diseases and undesirable species
• The NBU will ensure that its Bee Inspectors are trained in evidence gathering and effective enforcement of current statutory requirements in relation to disease control, including on the import of honey bees.
 

mbc 

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If enough of us object in writing or e-mail's to the co-op to encourage them to make a u turn on this ill advised venture then it could set a precedent that could make our policy makers to re-assess the bee import issue
 

Hombre 

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I'm not sure if I'm missing some of the point or perhaps others are? Other than the genetics side of thing, there is an ever greater potential danger.

Until last year, the Gloucestershire Gentleman imported package bees from Australia, where he has a strong bee trading relationship, but packages from Australia have now been banned because of the risks of accidentally importing Small Hive Beetle into the UK.

Allegedly importation of the packages is now from NZ. Is this genuine or is this a case of packages of bees being laundered through the system and should the authorities be examining records in Australia and NZ to satisfy themselves of the validity of the claims being made, from a bio security point of view?

Icanhopit, you might not be quite so upbeat if your bait hive were to be also populated by small visitors from hell.

Rog, I agree with you.

PH, you can doubtless ascertain the details for yourself from your friend the Northern British Bee Farmer; but I wouldn't want to be accused once more of putting words into your mouth or ideas into your head.

My stance is to ensure that everything that is as it should be and stands up to detailed scrutiny in the interests of bio security. The stance of others is that of mass genetics import and I sympathise with their take on it all. Either way the publicity is not destined to be as favourable as might have been expected at the outset of this commercial project.

I suspect that those paying, don't know the half of it and have been very naive in not realising that they were not dealing with just another commodity, but delving into a politically charged area.

Honey from Singapore anyone? Would that infer a Singapore Honey Bee . . .
 
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