By Andy Hargreaves

The Scilly bee

A team of Tresco Estate staff is travelling to the Isle of Man today to bring back bees.

A decade ago there were eight hives producing honey on the islands, mainly for the Dorrien Smith family’s consumption.

But now there is just one active hive.

The decline of bee stocks around the country has been well documented and Abbey Gardens curator Mike Nelhams says one theory is that pesticides have got into their food chain.

On the mainland bees have also been decimated by the Varroa mite but that disease hasn’t taken hold here because bees can’t fly the 28 miles to reach Scilly.

The insects bought from the Isle of Man have been verified as varroa-free and Andrew Lawson and Dave Hamilton will be going up to collect them by hand, because sending them by post isn’t always successful.

Mike says it’s good to bring stocks from outside Scilly because it means the colonies don’t become too in-bred. And he says he’s offered bees to other beekeepers in the islands.

Mike says Tresco is keen to increase honey production because people have “raved” about the taste.

Some visitors bought so much “you’d think they were going to bathe in it,” he told Radio Scilly.

Mike says the unique qualities are probably because of the variety of year-round plants like Eucalyptus and Leptospermum.