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Ministers welcome major conference of beekeepers

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

A major gathering of beekeepers in the Island next week reflects well on its environment and brings economic benefits.

The Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders’ Association holds its biennial conference at the Villa Marina from 20 to 22 September.

The event will attract more than 150 delegates from the UK and Ireland, Europe and the USA and boasts 25 speakers who are acknowledged experts in beekeeping.

The Island was chosen to host the conference after work to improve the Manx dark bee and ensure its bee stocks stay healthy enhanced its international reputation.

Richard Ronan, Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, said:

‘The Island has worked hard for many years to ensure its bees are free of the varroa mite, which has been deadly to hives worldwide.

‘The ban on importation of bees and related equipment has led to us becoming one of only three sites in Europe to be declared officially varroa-free.

‘We have an excellent reputation throughout the beekeeping world and there is a healthy and growing population of 80+ beekeepers in the Island as a result.

‘The recent formation of the Manx Bee Improvement Group (MBIG), a sub-committee of the Manx Beekeepers’ Federation, has the aim of improving local bee stocks.

‘The work of the MBIG has already been recognised in the prestigious Vita Bee Initiative Awards and exciting developments have included the creation of a training apiary.’

UNESCO has awarded the Island Biosphere status, recognising it as ‘a special place for people and nature’.

‘Work carried out by local beekeepers, in conjunction with Government, is an outstanding example of this, said Minister Ronan.

‘Conservation is a central theme of the Biosphere programme. Conserving our nature and wildlife can only serve the interests of local beekeepers and their breeding programme further.’

Laurence Skelly, Minister for Economic Development, said:

‘BIBBA’s decision to hold its 2016 conference on the Isle of Man is a testament to the hard work of the Island’s beekeepers. This event will be a great opportunity for those in the industry to network and for Manx beekeepers to showcase their exceptional work and the benefits of the Island to the wider beekeeping community.

‘It is also particularly important not to forget the more general economic advantages of industry events taking place on the Isle of Man. Our Island is introduced to a potentially brand new audience, whilst hotels, guest accommodation providers and restaurants all benefit from the increased visitors.

‘The Department is pleased to be assisting in the organisation of this event, raising awareness of yet another aspect of the Isle of Man’s diverse economy and facilitating new business opportunities.’

BIBBA last held its conference in the Island in 1973 and at least three delegates who attended then are returning next week.

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