Brussels and bees – two words you don’t always hear together, but on World Environment Day the future of our furry friends is of increasing concern to beelovers and MEPs.
That’s because over the last few years honeybee colonies in some parts of Europe have collapsed – bad news when they are so vital for pollinating crops.
The reason for their sudden disappearance is not clear. Scientists think multiple factors maybe behind the decline.
Marie-Pierre Chauzat, from EU Reference Laboratory for Honeybee Health, told euronews: ‘‘First of all pathogens, such as the Varroa destructor, are a scurge for beekeepers. Then there are pesticides – all the talk at the moment is about Neonicotinoid type pesticides. In addition, global food production has meant the diversity available to bees, in terms of countryside, can also sometimes be a problem. And there are also issues surrounding the climate. For example this year, springtime in France was extremely cold and wet.’‘
With on-going uncertainty over what is actually causing the quick and widespread collapse, some MEPs are demanding more research to find out what is actually happening.
‘‘We’d like to know more precisely how many bee hives there are in Europe and their interaction with the rest of the environment. Nearly 90 percent of hives are privately owned and so we don’t always have exact figures,” said Gaston Franco MEP.
Competition from other parts of the world is also being blamed for the recent decline. Those in the industry say cheap honey imports from China are putting Europe’s beekeepers out of business.
Philippe Lecompte from the Bee Biodiversity Network said: ‘‘China accounts for half of Europe’s honey consumption. European beekeepers, who help to pollinate are finding themselves in direct competition with the Chinese. This has an adverse effect on pollinisation in Europe.’‘
With bees so crucial to our own well-being and food supply campaigners have called on the authorities to tap into funds from the Common Agricultural Policy.