An event organised in response to increased interest in native and heritage honey bees is to be held at the Eden Project on Saturday February 17.

The event is organised by the Bee Improvement and Bee Breeders Association (BIBBA) and B4, in conjunction with the Bee Improvement Programme for Cornwall (BIPCo).

Andrew Brown, secretary of B4, said: “Many beekeepers now realise the benefits of working with bees that are hardy, productive, healthy and best suit their conditions.

“Bee researchers believe that native bees are an important resource that should not be lost. European studies have shown that locally adapted bees perform better than imported ones, with possible health and survivability benefits.”

Leading lights of the bee world are gathering at Eden on Saturday February 17 for the event entitled Sustainable Beekeeping: A Future without Imports.

The morning will see presentations covering research relevant to native and near native bees by research scientists Norman Carreck, Mark Barnett, Mairi Knight and Victoria Buswell.

In the afternoon BIBBA President and bee farmer Jo Widdicombe will discuss the principles of practical bee improvement and Roger Patterson will highlight some problems we face.

Roger will suggest ways of helping the wider beekeeping community to achieve a more sustainable culture that avoids importing bees and queens that may be unsuitable.

The opening address will be given by Eden Project Co-Founder Sir Tim Smit and there will be an introduction by Dr Mike Maunder, Eden’s Director of Life Sciences.

Dr Maunder said: “The UK’s native honeybees, like our native livestock breeds and vegetable crops, are of immense genetic, cultural and economic value. More than ever the UK needs to plan for resilient landscapes and food production systems - healthy bee populations are key to this vital ambition."