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Warm spring and summer boost honeybees productivity in Somerset



Beekeepers in Southern England are benefitting from a warm spring and early summer, which has allowed bees to produce more honey than usual.

Honey is not normally available yet at this time of the year, as the small amount present is left in the beehive for the bees, making the so-called ‘June gap’. However, mild temperatures and early flowering have boosted honeybees’ production of honey, meaning some is already accessible to consumers.

Caroline Butter, president of Somerset Beekeeper’s Association, told the Western Daily Press, “It is a wonderful year for the bees.

“The key to it all is that there was plenty of rain in what was a warm winter and that meant plants got a good early start. There was enough warm sunshine at the right time to stimulate flower bud formation, so we have masses of flowers this year.

“In fact we are seeing plants flowering that we’ve never seen before. I have a small field and we have a huge flush of bee orchids, which we’ve not seen in the past – a lot of things have done really well, so we have not had what beekeepers call the ‘June-gap‘.”

The UK also had a relatively mild winter, which has helped colony survival, a survey by the British Beekeepers Association found in June.

Despite this, bees are worryingly declining all over Europe and the US, with losses in Northern Europe, including the UK, particularly severe.

Overwhelming evidence has linked the phenomenon to the widespread use of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, which a recent study has also blamed for farmland bird population decline. The EU commission placed a 2-year ban on three chemicals, with the US also taking steps to address the issue.

Photo: Ryan Wick via flickr

Further reading:

Not enough honeybees in the UK to keep up with crop pollination

Loss of $200bn pollinating services will be harmful, scientists warn

Study: presence of bees ‘underestimated’ and improves value of crops

Bloodsucking parasite major threat to UK honeybees

Bee colonies helped by mild winter in England, survey shows