Could Alderney save the honey bee?

Above: Brian Constantine's special report

Over the last decade there's been growing concern for the humble honey bee. Changes to the countryside and agricultural techniques are a factor but also disease has hit colonies hard ... Except in Alderney.

The island is reportedly one of only two world-wide - the other, Hawaii - that is completely free of bee diseases. A host of measures are being taken to make sure the island stays that way, a haven for healthy bees.

Following a ban on the import of the insects themselves, second hand beekeeping equipment has now been outlawed.

Now, Bee Keepers are looking to capitalise on Alderney's unique status and breed and export healthy Queen bees to help bolster the bee population world wide.

Credit: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/DPA/Press Association Images

Bees don't come here from anywhere else unless man imports them and that means diseases don't come here so at the moment we are relatively disease free we can produce bees, we can produce queen bees which will allow other people to restock with Alderney bees and that is worth money.

– Martin Hunt - Beekeeper

A healthy Queen Bee can be worth up to £400 - but in order to produce them in vast numbers a specialist centre would need to be built.

Well a rather ambitious step I've started what I hope will be the Alderney bee keeping centre which is an old school building and old school playground which will be a permanent enclosure.

– Martin Hunt - Beekeeper

Up to 300 hives are planned over a three year period. Whilst this may seem allot, the UK's Bee keeping association agrees the project could help the UK's ailing bee population.

There's a lot of thoughts these days about breeding local bees so if I'm a Surrey man I really ought to have Surrey queens. One thing I would also like to have is disease free bees as well so it's not out of the question and after all coming from the Channel Islands to the UK is not a dramatic climatic change.

– Tim Lovett - British Beekeepers Association

It's hoped bee keeping could develop into a sustainable cottage industry for Alderney very soon. Whilst at the same time safeguarding its disease free status.