As we all know, the British bee is under threat with numbers plummeting to their lowest recorded levels. As a result, British farmers and gardeners have been importing up to 50,000 colonies from Eastern Europe every year.
The commercially bred bumblebees are being sold for around £100 per hive but researchers have found that 77% of these colonies have parasites. The colonies were found to be carrying five parasites that can adversely affect both bumblebees and honeybees.
Professor William Hughes, biologist at the University of Sussex said;
“Around a million colonies are exported globally each year from a very small number of factories in central and Eastern Europe. The bees are supposed to be disease free when they are exported under licence agreements, but we have shown that this is not the case.”
Crops such as tomatoes and strawberries require bumblebees in order to pollinate them, however there are few bumblebee colonies produced commercially in Britain.
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