Suffolk: Worrying drop in number of honey bee colonies

Honey bees by Bob Gutowski

Honey bees by Bob Gutowski - Credit: Bob Gutowski

Concerns have been raised over the rising number of honey bee colony losses following last year’s bad summer weather.

A survey by beekeepers which found that the level of colony losses across England is more than double what it was last year, has been described as “worrying” by Suffolk Wildlife Trust, who has called on people to provide a range of flowering plants in their gardens for pollinators.

The poor weather last summer meant that honey bees were frequently prevented from foraging and gathering pollen, and also reduced the amount of food available from flowering plants, as nectar production is temperature dependent.

The situation has also got worse since the survey was completed at the end of March as bees have continued to face bad weather and the late arrival of spring.

It has led to a knock-on effect for some farm shops across the county, whose honey supply has been affected.

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Lois Mansfield, from Suffolk Food Hall, said: “It has affected our supply. We get our honey from local suppliers and they have really struggled to get any honey product. In the past couple of months we have had just six jars. Normally we have a constant supply so people are asking where our honey is.”

A spokeswoman at The Friday Street farm shop near Aldeburgh, said they have a steady supply of honey at the moment, but are aware it is an “ongoing problem”.

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Jackie McQueen, vice chairman of Suffolk Beekeepers’ Association, said: “A lot of it depends on where you live. We have three hives and live in the town so haven’t been too badly affected. Because of all the gardens around these areas, there is a lot for them to forage, but out in the countryside, unless there is a lot of rape crop, it is tough for bees.”

The report by the British Beekeepers Association (BBKA) found that a third of honey bee colonies did not survive the winter, which is the worst set of results since the annual survey started six years ago.

A spokesman for Suffolk Wildlife Trust said: “We would say that the news is worrying. Honey bees are vitally important for pollinating hundreds of plant species.

“We would urge people to manage their own gardens sensitively for wildlife.”

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