A British beekeeper who is trying to bring 15 million baby bees into the UK has been told they may be seized and burned because of ‘monumentally stupid’ Brexit laws.
Since Brexit, new laws have come into effect in the UK that restrict the types of bees that can be imported into the country.
Patrick Murfet, the managing director of Kent-based business Bee Equipment, is attempting to import baby Italian bees to help British farmers pollinate their crops.
As of January 1, only queen bees can be brought into the country from Europe, but there is some confusion as to whether other kids of bees can be imported via Northern Ireland.
Murfet had planned to receive his bees this way in a bid to avoid the import ban, but has now been warned that his bees may be destroyed.
‘I am a passionate beekeeper, I’ve been doing it for nearly 20 years. It’s a monumentally stupid situation for a country supposed to be standing on its own two feet and exporting round the world,’ Murfet told PA.
Prior to Brexit, Murfet regularly imported large numbers of bees from breeders in Italy due to the country’s warmer weather. The Bee Equipment website lists a number of Italian Buckfast bee packages for sale.
The business owner said his bees have strengthened breeding lines and boosted pollination for farms in the UK.
Murfet is now appealing to the government to help clarify the rules and make future imports possible. He has previously contacted the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) for the reasoning behind the ban, but has received little communication.
One email gave a brief response, ‘Illegal imports will be sent back or destroyed, and enforcement action (criminal charges) will be brought against the importer.’
Murfet, who has already paid a deposit of £20,000 for the bees, said he could lose nearly £100,000 in costs if the import is prevented.
‘So far the department has overseen a policy whereby the UK is only one of three countries in Europe to see a decline in bee colonies. Fewer honeybees means less pollination, less top fruits and more imports,’ he said.
As per The Independent, DEFRA said it is currently working to find a solution and will provide guidance to bee importers and keepers as soon as possible.
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