11 June 2010
Tests carried out so far on Jersey’s honey bee colonies have found a total of 26 hives infected with American Foulbrood, a disease which kills developing bees. The first case of the disease was reported to the Environment Department on 31 May.
Staff from the department are now working with UK bee inspectors to examine all 400 of Jersey’s bee hives for signs of the disease. They expect to find more colonies affected across the island.
The Environment Department is organising the destruction of all affected hive colonies and equipment, and the secure collection of old equipment, for destruction at the specialist animal by-products incinerator at Howard Davis Farm.
Staff will be working this weekend with the National Bee Unit inspectors to inspect hives and destroy those affected by the disease, whose spores can survive for 70 - 100 years. The disease can only be controlled by destroying affected hives and stopping all movements of hives, bees and equipment. The island has been declared an Infected Area, which means no bees, hives or associated equipment or products may be moved except with a licence.
States vet, Linda Lowseck, said “We have inspected between 40 and 50 hives out of a total of more than 400. The infection rate is around 50% so far and 5 hives have been destroyed.
“This is a very distressing time for the island’s beekeepers and we are very grateful for their cooperation. We are working closely with the Jersey Beekeepers Association who have been helping us to contact all their members.
“It is most important that any beekeeper or former beekeeper with stored equipment, who isn’t a member of the association, gets in touch with us so we can check their bees and equipment for disease.”
Planning and Environment’s Chief Officer, Andy Scate, said “We have every sympathy for Jersey’s beekeepers, but it is essential that we tackle this disease, which can cause devastation if not controlled.
“We are training teams of our staff to destroy affected hives with support and advice from 3 UK inspectors who are working with the department. We would also like anyone who knows the location of any wild bee colonies to notify the department.”
American Foulbrood (industry and finance section)
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