By Hideo Watanabe, Tokyo, Japan
1. Apis mellifera\'s negative effect on indigenous life is negligible in comparison with the loss of trees, environmental pollution and use of agricultural chemicals in Japan.
2. Apis mellifera has not adapted itself to life in the wild.
3. There are many predators of honeybees, including birds, bears, dragonflies, Galleria mellonella, preying mantis, spiders, toads, Varroa jacobsoni, Vespa mandarinia and Vespa xanthoptera. In addition Apis mellifera suffers from many diseases.
4. Despite these various problems, it is not difficult to raise bees and produce high quality products.
As a result of the decline in pollinating insects due to the widespread use of agricultural chemicals, honeybees are widely utilised in the pollination of crops and fruits. The use of honeybees for pollination of strawberries and melon in greenhouses has increased and the honeybee has become indispensable for our food supply.
Under the Beekeeping Promotion Law established in 1955, many government organisations, public bodies, universities and institutes began to co-operate with beekeepers. However, due to economic and ecological problems, bees and beekeepers are on the decline. From 10,918 beekeepers and 320,171 colonies in 1980 to 7,235 beekeepers and 214,112 colonies in 1995. It has become a national theme in Japan to improve the condition of beekeeping, which helps to improve the natural environment, food supply and human health.
Recently there has been discussion among ecologists that small, isolated islands such as Ogasawara could be disturbed through the introduction of Apis mellifera. However, as mentioned above, the main islands do not seem to have been affected.