I propose to take Questions Nos. 489 to 492, inclusive, together.
I fully acknowledge the important contribution bees make to agriculture and biodiversity as both pollinators and honey producers. In this regard, my Department provides a range of supports and initiatives to encourage and assist beekeepers and the national beekeeping associations. These supports include funding to carry out applied research through the National Apiculture Programme, grants to national beekeeping associations and grant aid to fund capital investments for beekeepers. My Department has funded a number of studies under the Genetic Research Grant Aid Scheme looking at various aspects of this honeybee species and specifically apis mellifera mellifera. My Department also supports the work of the Native Irish Honey Bee Society.
In relation to the importation of honeybees into Ireland, this is allowed under regulations governing intra-Community trade with other EU Member States. The specific health requirements for trading in bees are laid out in Council Directive 92/65/EEC. All imports of bees must be accompanied by a health certificate issued by the country of export. This is to ensure that imported bees are healthy and do not harbour pathogens or parasites that may be harmful to our native bee stocks.
The importation of bees is, therefore, subject to EU regulation on intra-community trade.