I’ve just had a call from the local Bee Inspector. It seems that his bosses have been looking at a map and discovered – shock horror! – that Dorset has a coastline! Even worse, it has ports! This means that it it is possible that exotic pests of bees such as Tropilaelaps apis or the Small Hive Beetle may sneak in, piggybacking on a yacht or a ferry.
He has been instructed to examine apiaries within 5km (the pests, being continental, use the metric system, whereas our bees use Imperial measurements) of the coastal ports and landing places. He called me to ask whether I still have my apiary at Symondsbury, 4.7 km from West Bay. I don’t, but I do have bees on 2 sites on Portland and one at Preston, not far from the sea. We will arrange a visitation before very long.
I’m not convinced that checking port areas will keep the Small Hive Beetle out. It is more likely to be as adults on some imported fruit or as pupae in the soil of imported potted plants. I hope that they are also keeping an eye on supermarket fruit packers and on garden centres.
It’s amazing how long beekeepers can take nattering about bees. The call lasted half an hour!