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The National Bee Improvement Programme (NatBIP)

The National Bee Improvement Programme is intended to provide a platform for the sustainable improvement in the quality of our honey bees.

In recent years imports of bees into the UK have continued to increase, mostly of non-native European sub-species. Ireland has also experienced a steady, but more modest, increase in imports. Many beekeepers believe that if they want a better-quality bee, they must buy something in, often imported, or offspring of recently imported, bees.

We believe that this approach, at best, provides short-term relief before the process must be repeated to boost quality again. Imports carry a biosecurity risk to our bee population and may have been a causative factor in the ‘Isle of Wight’ disease and in the advent of Varroa. Also, the import of exotic genes, not suited to our environment, does not lead to more hardy, docile and productive bees. 

How NatBIP can provide a more sustainable improvement in our bees?

The NatBIP proposal is that beekeepers should view our current population of honey bees as our resource, to be selected and improved, as appropriate. There is enough genetic diversity available, within our bee population, to develop whatever qualities we want to see in our bees.

By a combination of natural selection (survival of the fittest) and artificial selection (selection by the beekeeper), we can produce a steady improvement in quality. This method works in harmony with nature and our bees will gradually evolve to produce good results in the current conditions. By constantly selecting the bees that do best, our bees will be constantly evolving to cope with changing environmental or climatic conditions.

Why NatBIP needs your support.

For over 150 years we have viewed imports as the way to a better bee, but now is a good time for a more sustainable method which reduces the risks to our bees. We would like as many beekeepers as possible to support this scheme By committing to working with our own bees and with locally produced queens, and by rejecting the use of imported, or offspring of recently imported bees, we will be helping to transform the quality of our bees.

How to support NatBIP

We hope beekeepers will support NatBIP in one of two ways:

By selecting either option you will be kept fully up to date with supporting and participating in NatBIP.

Thank You for Your Interest