This afternoon I met with beekeepers from Bedfordshire who had just been to 10 Downing Street to present a petition. They are angry people.
40% of our bee population was wiped out last winter by a parasite. This winter looks set to be even worse. There are treatments and chemicals available, however, due to health and safety legislation you can’t use them.
Some beekeepers travel to France and other European countries to buy the chemical - Apivar - and bring it back; but this goes against the grain for decent law-abiding people.
I suppose you are thinking, well this isn’t a major crisis, we can live without honey and you would be right. We can live without honey, but we can't live without bees.
Without the small beekeeper nurturing our hives, we won't have the cross-pollination, which is the real job of the worker bees.
There won't be any berries or fruit on the hedgerows to feed the birds, and the farmers will suffer as vegetable crops fall back.
Einstein said that man would only last ten years after the bee disappeared.
I don’t know whether or not he was right, but I do know this – we depend upon government to take sensible decisions. I want this government to provide all our beekeepers, big and small, with access to Apivar; and I would like to see funding for research into the parasite that is causing all the problems.
Not too much to ask is it? Well you wouldn’t think so, but the response of DEFRA is to blame the beekeepers themselves which is unbelievable. Or is it?
Not so surprising I suppose from a government comprised of people who loath the rural way of life.
This is one of those issues which I believe is so ridiculously unfair, that I am going to take it up at every opportunity that I get. There are bee hives in gardens all over my constituency and long may that bee the case!