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Bee health service to be launched

A national bee health service costing the government SFr750,000 ($940,000) is being set up to improve research into apian well-being.

Initial discussions were opened on Thursday. The Federal Veterinary Office said the increasing complexity of bee-keeping required wider specialist knowledge on hive maintenance and disease prevention.

The Varroa destructor, an external parasitic mite that attacks honey bees, came to Switzerland 25 years ago. It has the most pronounced economic impact on the beekeeping industry and may be a contributing factor to colony collapse disorder (CCD), which has been affecting Western honey bees since 2006.

There are about 19,000 beekeepers with 170,000 bee colonies in Switzerland, which has a bee density of 4.5 colonies per square kilometre, one of the highest in the world.

In June, Bern University set up a professorial post in bee health with the aim of better understanding the insect and its dwindling colonies.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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