Honey boom thanks to middle class beekeepersUnited Kingdom
Louise Gray, Environment Correspondent
Honey production is booming in the UK thanks to an increase in the number of middle class amateur beekeepers.
The British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) said 3.5 million jars of honey were produced by their members this summer.
The decline in honeybees has hit the headlines in recent years as hive numbers have been falling due to diseases, loss of habitat and a mysterious condition known as colony collapse disorder (CCD). Chemical pesticides and climate change has also been blamed.
According to a previous study, England's bees are vanishing faster than anywhere else in Europe, with more than half of hives dying out over the last 20 years.
However the number of people taking up beekeeping has increased as the middle classes take up the plight of the bumblebee.
In the last three years membership of the BBKA has almost doubled to just under 20,000, and this year they have had a bumper year for honey.
There are now more than 80,000 hives registered in Britain, compared to 40,000 in 2007.
On average each hive produced 32lbs of honey, worth £130 to the beekeeper.
The BBKA point out that the pollination of bees is worth even more to the local economy. Even though the number of hives is increasing, the recent decline in honey bees is still not back to normal and other pollinating insects like bumblebees and butterflies continue to suffer.
Last winter beekeepers lost one sixth of hives, which is less than previous losses but still above the ten per cent rate of natural decline.
Martin Smith, BBKA President, said further research is still needed into the decline.
“It is extremely encouraging that our members have produced more than three and a half million jars of honey this summer – that's more than a third of all the nation’s home-produced honey," he said.
“The test of whether beekeeping in the UK is still improving however will come when we survey the number of hives which survive the coming winter.”
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