For 25 years Mike has worked for the National Bee Unit (NBU). He started as National Beekeeping Advisor in ADAS, working both at the laboratory bench, in the field with the Unit’s bee colonies and on advising beekeepers on keeping healthy thriving honey honeybee colonies. Mike helped create and establish the integrated model for the National Bee Unit in the early 1990s, which has worked very successfully since, and has been assessed by European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as the best operating surveillance system in Europe, which includes the award winning IT system called BeeBase. In 2002 Mike became head of the NBU.
Studied Agriculture at Wye College, University of London, and has worked on various large scale arable and livestock farms in Kent, Hertfordshire and Dorset. Outside of the UK, in California in the 1980s Mike was instrumental in the set-up and transfer of technology of an American subsidiary of a French poultry firm, Grimaud Farms California, a company specialising in Muscovy duck production for the US restaurant market.
Over 30 years beekeeping experience in commercial, regulatory and research fields, Mike has been a large scale professional beekeeper since 1982 and has experience of commercial beekeeping in three continents. In France for a large scale commercial business, Famille Mary at Beau Rivage in Maine et Loire, in Tunisia (first encounter as research assistant with the FAO with the parasitic mite Varroa destructor), and in North America for a Queen rearing business in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in California.
As Head of the NBU, Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), Mike and his collegues are responsible for large aspects of the bee health programme in England and Wales, which is designed to protect bee health through an integrated programme of apiary inspections, pests and disease diagnosis, research, training and extension provided by a team of scientists and practical beekeepers, comprising of 75-80 staff.
An important part of Mike’s work is advice to regulators and policy makers on aspects of honeybee health. The NBU currently runs 150-200 colonies of honeybees in support of all the above activities and also supports the Scottish government programme. The NBU also helps business develop new veterinary medicines to tackle pests and diseases and provides advice on aspects of food safety. Mike has completed consultancies overseas notably in Iran, Chile and China.
A member of the EU Commission bee experts Working Group and a member of the Advisory Team (EPIteam), of the EU Honeybee Reference Laboratory Surveillance Programme.
Manages around 20 colonies of his own – honeybees are Mike’s day job and weekend enjoyment.