Honey Bee Project To Raise Awareness Of Varroa Mite

Beekeepers on our islands may be able to exchange stocks with those on Colonsay in the Hebrides.

That’s according to Clare Lewis, who recently visited the remote Scottish island to learn more about how they’re keeping their bee stocks free of the varroa mite, which has devastated honey bee stocks on the mainland.

Clare says it’s part of her work for the Scilly Honeybee Project, which is being run jointly by an alliance of Islands’ bee keepers and the AONB.

Scilly is currently free of the mite and Clare says they’re desperately trying to keep it that way. But to maintain a diverse gene pool, it’s necessary to bring in stocks from outside the island, hence the potential relationship with Colonsay, which is also disease-free.

Clare Lewis

The Honeybee Project is trying to raise awareness of the potential threat to our bee stocks and to work with local transport providers and the Post Office to help detect if supplies of potentially infected bees are brought here.

She says other UK islands, like Colonsay, are appealing to the European Court to challenge the Freedom of Livestock Act, which currently allows stocks to be moved anywhere in the EU.

Clare says the project is not trying to encourage new beekeepers as there are already plenty on the islands and the area can only support a certain capacity.