HC Deb 05 March 1956 vol 549 cc1680-1
4. Mr. Smithers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is aware of the decline in the number of stocks of bees kept in Hampshire and elsewhere during recent years, with a consequent loss of food production; and whether he will take action to encourage the keeping of bees.

Mr. Amory

I am aware that the number of stocks of bees kept in Hampshire and elsewhere has declined in recent years, but there is no evidence of any appreciable direct or indirect loss of food production which can be attributed to this cause. I already take action to encourage bee-keepers through our advisory and information service, and by exercising my powers to safeguard the health of bees.

Mr. Smithers

Is it not the case that the number of stocks kept in Hampshire, as shown by the county executive committee's figures, has declined by 50 per cent.? Does that not indicate that this is a serious matter, involving such loss of honey production? Would it not be advisable to call a conference to examine the various causes which have contributed to this decline?

Mr. Amory

The figures I have do not indicate such a disastrous fall as my hon. Friend has mentioned. In Hampshire the numbers fell from 14,500 to 13,500 between 1952 and 1955. The main cause was the exceptionally bad weather we had three seasons running.