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Beekeeper Told 15 Million Bees He Ordered Could Be Killed Because Of Brexit

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Beekeeper Told 15 Million Bees He Ordered Could Be Killed Because Of Brexit

A beekeeper has been told 15 million bees he is hoping to import could be killed due to rule changes because of Brexit.

Patrick Murfet runs Bee Equipment, based near Canterbury, Kent, and regularly imports huge numbers of baby Italian bees.

However, new laws that came into force following the UK leaving the single market could put an end to proceedings, with the importation of most bees into the country banned. Under the rules, only queen bees are allowed to be imported into the UK.

Mr Murfet had arranged for his bees to arrive in Northern Ireland in April, however, he has since been told this is no longer an option, and if he tries to do it, the bees may be destroyed.

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Having already paid a deposit of around £20,000 ($27,000), he now stands to lose about £100,000 ($136,000) in costs if the order cannot be completed.

Patrick Murfet was told 15m bees he ordered could be destroyed. Credit: PA
Patrick Murfet was told 15m bees he ordered could be destroyed. Credit: PA

Speaking about the confusion, Mr Murfet says he doesn't understand how it has happened.

He said: "I am a passionate beekeeper, I've been doing it for nearly 20 years.

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"It's a monumentally stupid situation for a country supposed to be standing on its own two feet and exporting round the world."

He added: "I don't care what they [the government] think it should say. At present the rules are clear that bees from Northern Ireland can enter the UK legally.

"If the law intended something else, they have not written it into legislation."

Mr Murfet says his efforts to find out more about the ban on imports have been in vain, other than one solitary email he received.

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It read: "Illegal imports will be sent back or destroyed, and enforcement action (criminal charges) will be brought against the importer."

If he doesn't find a solution, he stands to lose £100,000. Credit: PA
If he doesn't find a solution, he stands to lose £100,000. Credit: PA

A spokesperson for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) told LADbible it was looking into Mr Murfet's case.

They said: "We are aware of this issue and are working with colleagues in the Devolved Administrations to find a solution.

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"We are keen to provide guidance to bee importers and beekeepers as soon as possible."

Prior to the end of the the transition period between the EU and the UK, Defra said that bee importers were able to import colonies, packages, and queen bees into the UK, however, this has since passed.

They said it is the 'responsibility of the importer to ensure that goods dispatched from Northern Ireland meet the definition of NI qualifying goods or meet the import requirements'.

According to official figures, last year, the UK imported 21,405 queens, 1,882 packages, and 363 colonies from the EU.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK politics, EU, bees, brexit, Politics

Dominic Smithers
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