Keepers bee warned

Nastja Saranzewa, Assistant to Dr Cliff Connolly who is researching Honey Bees . With the help of tiny computers in the base of the hives they are able to study the effect the Varroa Mite has on the bees.Pic Neil Hanna

Nastja Saranzewa, Assistant to Dr Cliff Connolly who is researching Honey Bees . With the help of tiny computers in the base of the hives they are able to study the effect the Varroa Mite has on the bees.Pic Neil Hanna

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A bee expert at the Scottish Agricultural College (SAC) is warning keepers to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of a disease.

Following confirmation of the country’s first three cases of Nosema ceranae last week by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA), SAC bee advisory officer Graeme Sharpe says beekeepers should ensure they recognise the signs so it can be treated promptly.

And he said the key thing to look out for is soiling inside and on the front of a hive.

Mr Sharpe said: “It was really inevitable that Nosema ceranae would be confirmed in Scotland sooner or later, given that many cases have been have already been recorded in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”

None of the three cases are believed to be in the Borders.

The parasite, which causes diahorrea and can kill, affects honey production and has been tentatively linked, in combination with a virus, to colony collapse.

Mr Sharpe said: “While the disease does not pose a risk to human health or to honey quality or safety, it is vital that it is prevented from spreading if we are to avoid the further decline of the honeybee. The disease shortens bees’ lifespan by affecting their digestion.”

He echoes SASA’s advice that good husbandry practices, such as sterilising or replacing the comb, are vital to prevent it.

Anyone who suspects their colony is affected can contact Mr Sharpe for advice on 01292 520318.

Meanwhile, last night, Caddonfoot Beekeepers Association scheduled a talk by lifelong enthusiasts Ruth and Ian Homer at Galashiels Academy.