Declines in bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies and other pollinating insects have been occurring across Europe. Honey bees, as they forage for nectar and pollen, play vital roles as pollinators of agricultural crops and many wild flowers. As with other forms of livestock, honey bees are subject to a range of harmful diseases, pests and environmental threats. Honey bee activity depends upon beekeepers maintaining a healthy population of managed honey bees.
There are about 25 commercial beekeepers and around 50 semi-commercial beekeepers in Scotland. The commercial beekeeping sector is somewhat isolated from mainstream agriculture and educational opportunities. Last year we held a series of four winter meetings which brought together a small number of Scottish commercial beekeepers to improve marketing and business efficiency.
Specialists and farmers were invited to explain farm cropping rotations, pesticide use and integrated crop management to widen knowledge. Participants at the meetings shared experiences and trial different husbandry methods and results.
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