Comments over the BBKA News, October 2009

by Peter Folge, Welwyn Beekeepers Association

Having ripped open the plastic sleeve I couldn't wait any longer to thumb through the green pages of this month's magazine as it fell through the letterbox this morning. The Front Headlines said it All!

I was somewhat dismayed to read the written response the BBKA had over the fallout with DEFRA (National Bee Unit). It is long time due that the BBKA commit themselves to something positive but now we are told to wait until the next ADM for a decision to be made how the BBKA will announce their own long awaited project and in which way they will use some of their funds.

Andy Wattam (National Bee Inspector)'s article further back in the News was also an interesting read and much to the point.

Quoting BBKA, "£370K remains uncommitted of the original £2.3M. FERA decided to commit the bulk to increasing the number of inspectors, a disease survey, and promotion of BeeBase."

"The HBP (Healthy Bee Plan) will deliver little if any worthwhile outcome for bees and beekeepers."

Unfortunately I already have to disagree with last of these statements. The BBKA are underestimating the help the increased Seasonal Bee Inspectors have already been. This year's increase actually only reflects the number of inspectors that were lost in the 1980s when the government cut back funding.

Because of this, the remaining inspectorate could not cope and could never catch-up with the amount of visits required in order to keep beekeepers and apiary inspections up-to-date; this has led to a number that had not been visited for more than 10 years. Once disease AFB & EFB has been confirmed this could tie down an inspector to the surrounding area for many weeks at a time and if further disease is found during  the six week follow up inspection, this would mean inspectors must concentrate on all surrounding apiaries in a 10km radius once again. Now just image one of these beekeepers is a honey farmer of 200+ colonies. These all need to be rechecked if cross contamination is suspected.

The HBP involves inspectors visiting new and existing beekeepers and not just examining their hives. It's much more. Inspectors spend time to show/explain and even teach some newbies the correct ways and methods how to apply treatments. Unfortunately some existing records are never fully completed and this makes in years to come tracing beekeepers who have either moved away or ceased keeping bees a real headache and time and expense to update. So if you have registered and never updated then please do so.

This all takes time but in no way can even the BBKA or other beekeeping associations cover such a vast area from county to county like the inspectors do.

Remember inspectors should be approachable and not to be afraid of. Don't forget nearly all inspectors are beekeepers normally with many years of experience and expertise.

FERA has been promoting BeeBase and getting beekeepers to register online. This helps inspectors to get in touch. Do not forget you can also request a visit from your nearest SBI.

Oh...all I wanted to say is, "What happened to this month's Magazine???

I was really wanting to read the article "How Pure is the Wax in Your Hive" and looks like somebody printed twice the beginning, no middle and an end. Not much of a read then! Thanks a bunch! That's me ready for a night cap.

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