We previously blogged about the complicated situation that arose from Brexit and how one British beekeeper saw Ireland as a possible loophole for importing the Italian bees that he was used to adding to his apiary every year.
The Department for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) operates a honeybee health contingency plan to control and eradicate high risk pests.
They are implementing measures to prevent the potentially damaging effects of importing Italian bees into the north. Members of Derry and Strabane Council’s Environment and Regeneration Committee have been informed accordingly.
Previous concerns have been expressed post-Brexit by Derry and District Beekeepers Association in partnership with Council, in relation to potential importations of Italian bees into Northern Ireland from the Republic of Ireland.
The bees will subsequently be transported to Great Britain from the north.
This unrelated 7:41-minute video by Boomtree Bees shows black Irish honeybees and discusses Honeybee conservation in Ireland:
The main concerns raised by the Council when they wrote to DAERA in March 2021 were regarding how this practice could threaten the native bee population if the non-native Italian bees were to mate with the native bees.
Members were then updated on some of DAERA’s measures, including: prenotification of honeybee movements into Northern Ireland from Italy and a valid health certificate by Italian officials following inspection. Also, strict controls on the export of bees from the Calabria region of Italy.
DAERA officials stated that they have inspected the prenotifications and associated Animal Health Certificate (AHC) documents for all consignments of bees from Italy to Northern Ireland that have been accompanied by a valid AHC that confirms that the bees are free of pests.
While it is good to know that this paperwork will be scrutinized, it doesn’t address the issue of inter-breeding between Italian and native Irish bees, and therefore the diluting of the genetics.
We look forward to receiving more information on this matter as it becomes available, and will share it with you here.