Foreign bees 'a threat to local species'
Thursday 13 July 2006
Foreign bumblebees imported to pollinate plants in British commercial glass-houses could reduce natural populations if their use is not strictly controlled, a study shows.
Non-native bumblebees have escaped and survived to breed in Chile and Japan, and that may happen in Britain, says this week's New Scientist magazine.
The magazine reports a recent study in the Journal of Applied Ecology by Tom Ings of Queen Mary, University of London, trying to establish whether escaped commercial bees could survive in the UK.
"Unfortunately we found they could," said Mr Ings. His research found commercial colonies were better at foraging for nectar than native bees, and the commercial bees were consistently larger. They also produced more queens capable of founding new nests than did native colonies in the same environment. Worryingly, the most popular commercial subspecies, Bombus terrestris dalmatinus, a relation of Britain's buff-tailed bumblebee, not only created the largest colonies, but also set them up the most readily.
This could lead to aliens outcompeting native bumblebees, Mr Ings warned. "What I don't think many policy-makers realise is that these commercially used bees share many of the traits typically associated with invasive organisms," he said. "Their use has to be controlled."
Japan has imposed tough restrictions on bee imports. But many other countries, including the UK, US and Mexico, have yet to take action. Britain's bumblebee population is under severe pressure from decades of intensive farming, the demise of traditional hedgerows, hay meadows, chalk grassland and wildflowers, and the wide use of pesticides. Three of our 25 traditional species have already become extinct.
Actress isn't a fan of Ed Miliband
Do you qualify – and how do you get it?
The Mayor of London's sister, Rachel Johnson, apologises for shocking tweet about the PM
- 1 Sarah Vine criticises lesbian mother Jack Monroe: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
- 2 Black Friday 2014: Opening times for Asda, John Lewis, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
- 5 Girl, 7, gets Tesco to remove 'stupid' sign suggesting superheroes are 'for boys'
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
£26000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Industrial Gas Burner Engine...
£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + £80,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Reading , Sou...
£40000 per annum + OTE £55,000 +Pension : h2 Recruit Ltd: An excellent opportu...