Defra launches the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 to help protect honey bees

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Defra and the Welsh Government have today (Tuesday 3 November) published the Healthy Bees Plan 2030 to protect and improve the health of honey bees in England and Wales.

The plan sets out four key outcomes for beekeepers, bee farmers, associations and government to work towards to help protect honey bees, which continue to face pressure from a variety of pests, diseases and environmental threats including the invasive non-native species Asian hornet.

Honey bees contribute directly to local food production and make an important contribution, through pollination, to crop production and the wider environment. The economic benefit of pollination to crop production in the UK is approximately £600m each year, based on yield.

The Healthy Bees Plan 2030 was developed in consultation with bee health stakeholders and is aimed at sustaining the health of honey bees and beekeeping in England and Wales over the next decade.

The plan sets out four key outcomes to help protect honey bees:

  1. Effective biosecurity and good standards of husbandry, to minimise pest and disease risks and so improve the sustainability of honey bee populations.
  2. Enhanced skills and production capability/capacity of beekeepers and bee farmers.
  3. Sound science and evidence underpinning the actions taken to support bee health.
  4. Increased opportunities for knowledge exchange and partnership working on honey bee health and wider pollinator needs.

Launching the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, Pollinators Minister Rebecca Pow, said:

During the coronavirus pandemic we have seen an increased connection with the natural world, and the new Healthy Bees Plan provides a blueprint to look after the health of some of our most important insects – the bees – our unsung heroes.

Bee health stakeholders have had a key role in developing our plan, and we look forward to working together to help ensure our bees can survive and thrive for future generations.

Action to implement the plan will now be taken forward together in collaboration with beekeepers, bee farmers, associations and government.

Defra’s landmark Environment Bill and Agriculture Bill will enhance and protect our precious natural environment and diverse ecosystems and improve habitats for pollinators.

Thriving plants and wildlife are public goods identified in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan and one of the six environmental outcomes the government has committed to delivering through the new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme. Helping farmers to provide rich habitat for pollinators is one way in which ELM will help deliver the goals of the 25 Year Environment Plan and support farmers to produce world-class food in a sustainable way.

The Government’s Nature Recovery Network will restore 75% of protected sites as well as creating or restoring 500,000 hectares of additional wildlife-rich habitat.

The NBU maintains a voluntary database of active beekeepers called BeeBase. Beekeepers that are not registered with BeeBase are strongly encouraged to get in touch with the NBU online to register with BeeBase for free. Registration provides the beekeeper with a free visit from their local bee inspector and access to a wide range of information on their craft.

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