Saving Gloucestershire’s Honeybees

honeybeeWhen the warm weather brings honey bees out to feast on the abundance of flowers and blossoming trees in your parks and gardens, you’d be forgiven for thinking that bees were plentiful in our region. Sadly this is not necessarily the case. Between 1985 and 2005 there was a fifty per cent decline in honey bee colonies. From November 2008 to April 2009 nearly one in five of honey bee colonies were lost and across the UK there are now virtually no wild bee honey colonies left. To counter this alarming decline, Gloucestershire beekeepers are calling for more people to get involved in saving the honey bee.

Gloucestershire is fortunate in having an active population of beekeepers and they are frequently asked `What can I do to help the honey bee? I’d like to support bees, but I don’t want my own hive.’ Gloucestershire Beekeepers recognise that for practical reasons, beekeeping is not an option for everyone so they are supporting the British Beekeepers’ Association (BBKA) new Adopt a Beehive scheme which they have launched (the first public fundraising campaign in its 136-year history) to make it possible for more people in Gloucestershire to become `armchair’ bee- keepers and support the honey bee.

Adopt a Beehive is sponsored by the Saga Group and supported also by Michelin-starred chef Raymond Blanc, the new campaign is aimed at the many thousands of people who are concerned over the appaling loss of honey bees, but who are unable to have a hive themselves.
The Adopt a Beehive scheme has adapted the familiar ‘adopt an animal’ concept to raise revenue to be directed at:

• Research programmes into honey bee health and husbandry
• Education programmes to teach best practice for beekeepers.

Funds raised by Adopt a Beehive will be used to directly fund honey bee research projects and to help provide training for local associations like Gloucestershire in the best ways to keep their bees alive and healthy.People are also invited to buy local honey to support Gloucestershire beekeepers and is on sale at various shows and shops throughout Gloucestershire.
Martin Smith, BBKA President, said: “Adopt a Beehive is the way people can do something to help the plight of the honey bee and support the charitable aims of the BBKA. They can be confident that their donation to the campaign will be making a direct contribution towards funding applied bee health research and training beekeepers – the vital measures needed to ensure our honey bees survive.”

Raymond Blanc, Michelin-starred chef said: “I like to cook with the finest fresh locally sourced fruit and vegetables and I know just how important bees are in pollinating them. We cannot take it for granted that the bees will always be buzzing around; we have to keep them healthy. If they disappear it will be a recipe for disaster. We can all help by planting pollen and nectar rich plants and trees and of course giving money to fund research into why they are dying. The Adopt a Beehive campaign will help. Remember, without bees, there may be no Apple Tart Maman Blanc……and no more honey for tea”.
Investment in bee health research will be directed into tackling the effects of the varroa mite, endemic in UK colonies since 1992 , viruses and infections, work on queen rearing, honey bee genetics and bee husbandry as well as considering the effects of pesticides, bio-security and habitat loss.
The BBKA recently announced £36,000 funding for post doctoral research into the genetic basis of hygienic behaviour (self cleansing) in honey bees at Sussex University.

Another beneficiary of campaign funding will be the BBKA’s new three year education programme to ensure that the nation’s beekeepers are up to the new challenges they face.

Martin Smith, BBKA President, continued: “Our honey bees have to stay healthy, research must continue into why they are dying, and we have to make facilities and materials available to ensure that British beekeepers are the best informed and trained in the world. This is the recipe for successful beekeeping. Saga’s generous sponsorship has allowed us to set up Adopt a Beehive . Its millions of customers care deeply about the environment and the role honey bees play in it and we welcome their support.”
Andrew Goodsell, the Executive Chairman of Saga, said:”I am delighted that Saga has been able to help create the Adopt a Beehive campaign. Many people are deeply concerned about the environmental and other problems facing the honey bee. This scheme enables people who do not have time to keep bees personally to play an active part in helping to saving the British bee.”

To Adopt a Beehive for a year costs £29.50 and each person will receive a welcome pack including a jar of British honey or a jar of honey mustard, a fridge magnet, a wooden honey dipper, postcards, facts sheet and certificate.
The seasonal newsletter will provide a link to the hives of a network of beekeepers from around the UK and the latest news of bee health research.
To sign up for Adopt a Beehive and meet the colony of 14 beekeepers whose progress can be followed online.

For further information contact:
Christine Gray, BBKA Press Officer 07891 000207 /01462 450707 Email:
Paul V Green Head of Communication Saga Group Ltd 01303 776 023 (w)
07714 414 859 (m)


Nearly 150,000 people signed a Downing Street petition in October 2008 showing their concern for the health of the honey bee.
The BBKA has been calling on the government to ring fence £8 million from the £10million pollinator decline for research into honey bee decline outlined in its document ‘Honey Bee Health – Research Concepts’ published in early 2009.
Between 1985 and 2005, there was a 50 per cent decline in honey bee colonies. From November 2008- April 2009 nearly one in five of honey bee colonies were lost.
In the UK there are virtually no wild bee honey colonies left.
There are 17,000 known species of bees and the honey bee is the most important and is one of the economically effective insects in the world. Without bees many wild flowers, trees and hedgerow plants would not set seeds. They provide more than 50% of pollination of wild plants on which birds and mammals depend.
The BBKA, a charity set up in 1874, supports and promotes bees and beekeeping and educates the public of the importance of bees in the environment. Membership through its 64 affiliated associations has risen from under 13,000 to nearly 17,000 in the last 12 months.For more information on the BBKA visit
Saga is the UK’s iconic brand exclusively serving the needs of people 50 and over. It provides a range of services – from holidays to insurance and financial services to some 2.7 million people. It also publishes the award-winning Saga Magazine, the UK’s biggest subscription magazine read by some 2 million people every