Worrying Bee Number Decline for Parliament Debate

19 May 2009




The Scottish Parliament will debate the worrying implications of the decline of our honey bee numbers following the matter having been raised by Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, Peter Peacock.

Peter Peacock has been pursuing the issue of the serious decline in bee numbers and those of other pollinators through a series of parliamentary questions on the issues over recent months.

He said: "During biodiversity week, there is no better time to debate this issue as honey bees and other insects are a vital part of the diverse ecosystem we need.

"The decline of honey bees is one of the most worrying changes we are seeing in our environment and it has been happening largely unnoticed, yet has profound implications for each and every one of us.

"Two out of every three mouthfuls of the food we eat is reckoned to be pollinated by insects, many of which appear to be in decline and the implications for food production are worrying.

"The reasons for the decline are not fully understood, but are likely to be associated with a series of changes in our environment such as the loss of habitat, there may be climate reasons and some have argued there could be links to the use of pesticides.

"We know about a mite (Varroa Mite) which is affecting honey bees in particular with whole hives collapsing.

"Many species are in decline and some species of bumblebee have become extinct already.

"Even simple acts like paving our gardens are having an impact on the environment.

"Honey bees are not being enticed into our gardens because of the lack flowers and that in itself is a problem.

"Such has been the spread of the varroa mite that it is regarded to be endemic and it has been developing a resistance to certain types of treatment.

"Despite this there may be pockets of natural Scottish black bees, such as still exists on Colonsay, which are currently free of the mite. It must be important to try and protect and retain such populations while we still can."

Mr Peacock added: "We need to understand a lot more about what is happening so that we can do more to protect the various species which we depend upon for human existence.

"I was pleased to see the UK and Scottish Governments getting together recently to sponsor more research and, following the increased interest in the issues, the Scottish Government are in the process of developing a strategy to help.

"It is only right that this important issue gets an airing in Parliament and the government given the opportunity to hear the concerns and set out what their thinking is as a pre-cursor to what I hope will be significant actions to help support the vital insect populations we need to pollinate the food we need to eat."

Mr Peacock revealed that the motion he has tabled for the debate had received support from across the political spectrum.


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