AONB Highlighting Threat To Bee Population

The AONB team have launched a leaflet and poster campaign highlighting the threat to our islands’ bee population.

The Bee Alert, which is mainly aimed at islands’ residents, describes the importance of Scilly’s disease-free honeybees and the ways in which we can help keep them healthy.

The distance from the mainland means the Isles of Scilly are one of the few places in the world that are free of the varroa mite, which has devastated many mainland hives.

The lack of industrialised agriculture also means that insecticides, which are another factor in mainland bees’ decline, haven’t built up in the population

Only last year, there was a 16.8% decrease in honeybee stocks in the southwest region.

The leaflet gives a list of measures that can help keep our bees healthy, including washing out old honey jars, which could carry pathogens that harm bees, or buying local honey instead.

They also recommend growing pollinator-friendly plants in the garden and avoiding the use of insecticides.

Clare Lewis from the AONB says they intend to deliver a leaflet to all islands’ residents and will also make them available to tourists at the airport and quay and in the TIC.

Clare explained that the campaign is part of a wider programme of activities, called the Honeybee Health Project, to help raise awareness of the threat to the islands’ pollinators and to show how our disease-free bees can be a real asset to the local economy.

Clare says there is a shortage of so-called ‘clean queens’ on the mainland and Scilly is in a prime position to export these. She says bee ‘livestock’ are actually more valuable than honey these days and could become a lucrative industry for the islands.

The AONB are planning workshops for local beekeepers with expert Colin Rees later this month. The sessions will focus on apiary hygiene and queen rearing.

The team have also purchased equipment to help maintain Scilly’s quarantine, such as a wax foundation maker, which allows old wax to be recycled rather than importing potentially diseased batches from the mainland.

You can learn more about the Isles of Scilly Honeybee Health Project at


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