Bermuda’s bee population is on the increase, a bee expert said yesterday.

Jonathan Hitchcock, a cofounder of Wild Island Apiaries, said work to protect the island’s bees, including the importation of disease-resistant queens, appeared to have paid off.

Mr Hitchcock said: “We’ve been seeing an increased amount of feral and wild hive activity, something which only a few years ago became somewhat of a rare sight.

“Along with an increase in numbers, the steps that the Government took a few years ago, by importing a handful of more resistant queen bees, seem to be paying dividends as those genetics seem to have made their way into the existing colonies on the island.”

He added: “We’ve been collecting what appear to be reproductive swarms since the beginning of March.

“The season is just getting under way so it’s still early to draw comparisons to past years, but we are anticipating a busy season based on overall hive health on the island.”

Mr Hitchcock explained that island bee colonies, like others around the world, had been damaged by the varroa mite, a parasite that can lead to the collapse of the colony.

He said the use of pesticides and weedkillers had also harmed bees, but that increased public awareness had helped to curb excessive use. Mr Hitchcock added that calm weather in recent years had also helped colonies get bigger and stronger.

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