Date of release: Thursday, July 8, 2010

A1856-University-law-research-to-help-honeybeesThe health and welfare of UK honey bees is under threat from a combination of pests, pathogens and pesticides. Yet some of the problems facing honey bees and leading to the collapse of many hives may be made worse if there are no adequate laws and regulations in place to protect them.

Now the University of Greenwich has launched a new research programme to review the current legal framework relating to bee conservation and biosecurity across the UK.

Law lecturer Dr Opi Outhwaite, who has a long-standing interest in agricultural health, environment and biosecurity legislation and regulation, is conducting the research.

She says: “Honey bees do not only produce honey and wax. They are valuable pollinators for our crops and play an essential role in sustaining our environment. While we have commercial honey farmers in the UK, we have many thousands of people keeping bees as a hobby which has become very fashionable.

“There is no legal requirement to register as a beekeeper in the UK but we know that more than 17,000 people have registered voluntarily with the British Beekeepers’ Association.

“Bee colonies across the world have been declining as a result of a combination of problems including pests and diseases such as varroa, a parasitic mite which is now endemic in the UK, foul brood and small hive beetle.

“Bees are regularly imported, exported and moved around the world. Part of my research will include reviewing the laws and procedures governing the import of bees into the UK through the European Union and beyond, as well as the movement of bees across England and Wales.

“I will be looking closely at the statutory regulations around hive inspections and the reporting of bee and hive pests and diseases – including the procedures and obligations for beekeepers to report diseases within their own colonies.”

Dr Outhwaite will be presenting her initial findings in September and providing details of her research to The National Bee Unit, part of the government’s Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA).

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For further information and additional images please contact:

Nick Davison

Press Officer

University of Greenwich

020 8331 8092

N.A.P.Davison@gre.ac.uk