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The Bumblebee Conservation Trust’s position on commercial imports of bumblebees

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust (BBCT) has been researching the impact of importations of commercially-produced bumblebees on native, wild bumblebees. Up to 50,000 bumblebee colonies are imported to the UK every year, for use in the pollination of crops such as tomatoes, apples and strawberries.

Research has shown that these colonies often carry pathogens which could cause disease in wild bees, and BBCT therefore makes the following recommendations:

  • The new screening requirements for England to be extended to cover all of the UK, and all other nations.
     
  • More legislation to improve the health certification of commercial bumblebees before export or distribution.
     
  • Improved quarantine and independent random inspection using genetic techniques, upon importation.
     
  • Environmental risk assessment and proof of pollination limitation as preconditions to importation.
     
  • ‘Pollinator Action Plans’ in each of the Countries in the UK so as to increase local wild bee populations through sympathetic management of the countryside and hedgerows thus reducing the need to import commercial bumblebees.
     
  • Encouragement for growers to use Bombus terrestris audax over non-native  subspecies.

Click here to read our full summary of the research and our position on this issue.

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