The voice of UK professional beekeeping

Welcome to the Bee Farmers Association – The Voice of Professional Beekeeping

   The BFA is the largest contract pollinator in the UK and our members are responsible for virtually all the migratory pollination. They are responsible for the majority of the UK honey sold in bulk to honey packers and to larger retailers. Full membership requires more than 40 hives. Some of our members have more than 2000 hives. BFA members adhere to a code of conduct - unique among beekeeping associations. The BFA is affiliated to the National Farmers' Union and the Honey (Packers) Association.  

News

18 July 2014 PRESS RELEASE 

RESPONSE TO LAUNCH OF GOVERNMENT'S NATIONAL POLLINATOR STRATEGY

Commercial bee farmers throughout the UK welcome the opportunity to work with the Government on its new National Pollinator Strategy which was launched by Lord de Mauley at the Plantlife Conference attended by HRH the Prince of Wales.

The BFA which represents most commercial bee farmers will be part of a stakeholder group which will
consider all the issues relating to the problems pollinators face at the moment. We will be putting the case for
the importance of managed and targeted pollination. We believe honeybees are the only predictable
pollinators which can provide sustainable pollination services to farmers and growers meeting food
production needs in this country.

This campaign 'Bees Needs' - Call to Action - launched today is a small first step on a long road to tackling the
problem of pollination deficit.

We hope gardeners and growers will see we all have a part to play.

Only by supporting commercial bee farming and increasing the number of hives throughout the UK will
matters change.


Further information: www.wildlifetrusts.org/bees-needs


18 July 2014 PRESS RELEASE 

We need to be valued, says pollination expert Alan Hart

As the Government announces its National Pollination Strategy, bee farmers throughout the UK reiterate their call for more investment in this crucial industry.

A good proportion of our diet relies on plants and crops being pollinated properly.

Managed and targeted pollination is the only way to plug any pollination deficit in this country. Honey bees are the only predictable pollinators.

We need to build up the number of hives. We also need to value what bee farmers in this country do.

Twenty-five years ago I made my living from pollination. Now it is very difficult. Farmers, growers and consumers need to wake up to appreciate the value of pollination and the crucial role bee farmers, particularly members of the Bee Farmers’ Association, play in this.

Managed honey bee pollination is the most efficient way to achieve this from top fruits and soft fruits to arable crops such as oil seed rape (OSR), field beans and borage.

The increased size of today's fields and orchards along with the high costs incurred using artificial fertilisers mean that farmers should be looking to consider the benefits of managed pollination. Putting the correct number of managed hives into or around these crops guarantees pollination. It also increases yield and provides better quality fruit. Wild pollinators and domestic pollinator populations (bumblebees, solitary bees, hoverflies) are at an all-time low and most feral honey bee colonies have been lost to varroa, yet another reason that pollination management has become increasingly important to the farmer and the environment.

Natural pollinators such as bumblebees and solitary bees are very small colonies or even just individual adults in early spring, when they are most needed. Their queens will have just begun to set up nests and are rearing young worker bees. The benefits of honey bees placed in early spring are huge in comparison as honey bee colonies coming out of the winter will contain 25,000-30,000 bees with the queen. This means that one honey bee colony equates to 300 bumblebee colonies.

Oil Seed Rape (OSR)

Research in Canada shows an improvement in seed yield by 15-20 per cent with the presence of honey bees at two hives per hectare compared to the absence of hives (Sabbahi, 2005). There is also the benefit of a uniform and early pod set with a much shorter flowering period of nearly four days which could benefit disease control.

If OSR is grown for seed the presence of bees also increases germination success from 83 per cent to 96 per cent. Oil content also increases by approximately four per cent.

Field Beans

Field beans will have more pods set on the lower trusses and can increase yield by 11 cwt per acre (1380 kg / ha) with the introduction of managed hives.

Borage 

A high level of pollination is essential for borage to produce maximum yields. The flower heads of borage plants open for one day only. Therefore, it is crucial to get hives to the crop just before flowering begins. Trials in New Zealand showed 20 per cent increase in yield when hives were introduced to the crop.

Top Fruit and Soft Fruit

These all benefit from managed pollination. Quality is far superior, seed content is high making for better shape fruit and higher yields. The calcium content in apples is increased with insect pollination giving the fruit a longer storage life. Hives need to be introduced to these crops once there is approximately five per cent blossom. This encourages bees to work right away. Bees placed too early may search for other food sources away from the target crops. This is where the expertise of the professional bee farmer comes in.

Members of the Bee Farmers’ Association have generations of experience of providing the correct number of hives in the right condition to work at the time they are required. This is SMART bee farming - Specific, Measured, Achievable, Relevant and Timed. Our members are aware of the correct placement and number of hives needed for maximum pollination and will advise farmers and growers accordingly.

SMART bee farming = good pollination

The Bee Farmers’ Association is the only organisation in the UK to have a Pollination Officer whose job is to look after this important aspect of bee farming and to the biodiversity of the our country.

For further information please see the BFA website: www.beefarmers.co.uk or contact Alan:pollination@beefarmers.co.uk or our General Secretary Margaret Ginman at: gensec@beefarmers.co.uk  Or visit our Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/beefarmersassociation

Picture: Joel Spooner Photography