A report has been published by experts from the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services, founded by 124 UN member states, based on the findings of hundreds of scientists. The findings in the report, Pollination, Pollinators and Food Production, are supported by other researchers as well.
The alarming findings indicate Europe’s bee population is dying. The negative trend fluctuates annually, but is a longer-term trend. Winter deaths of bees went from 5-10% to 25-40%. Summer deaths from colony collapse disorder also increased.
This video is 4:23-minutes long, very informative and worth watching!
Human activity is cited as the main reason an increasing number of pollinator species are threatened by extinction every year. Urbanization, bee diseases, monoculture and plant protection methods that are unfriendly to pollinators, and other stress factors are all contributing factors.
Over 80% of crop yields and 75% of European food production depend on bee pollination. The importance of apiculture to Europe is far greater than the contribution to the GDP. But other pollinators are in decline, suffering even greater losses. This means the honeybee is more vital than ever as pollinator. Ways to maintain ecological balance must be found or a lack of pollination leading to a loss of crops that depend on pollination may occur.
Beekeepers replenish destroyed colonies, which boosts the dwindling figures, so the reduction of domestic bees is less obvious. It is vital that beekeepers continue their work and that bee colonies expand again, since domestic bees must now try to make up for the decline of other wild pollinators.
If things continue as they currently stand, ecological imbalance may threaten the European agricultural sector and food industry. Apiculture serves society in a broad sense, so improving standards is vital.
The trend is that beekeepers relying on apiculture for their main source of revenue are abandoning it because conditions have become very difficult in the apiculture product market.
At 3:20-minutes long, this interesting and unusual perspective could be useful as things unfold.
A major problem for European beekeepers is Chinese honey. Europe only produces half the apiculture products it needs annually, so honey is imported from outside the EU, mainly from China. This honey is inferior and far cheaper. European beekeepers cannot compete with China because their prices are higher due to being held to stricter food safety regulations and higher standards.
Pollination revenue is 50 times higher than revenue from apiculture product sales, so the EU must re-prioritize its focus.
Hungary has suffered a 50% decrease of profitability in its apiculture sector compared to the previous 5-year average and has made some short-term proposals that could help stabilize the situation.
Regulations should be changed concerning proper labeling, trace-ability and country of origin information for consumer awareness. Currently producers may conceal the real country of origin.
Resources for national apiculture programs should be used to fund the health of the bees, purchase beehives, sugar or honeycomb. Old equipment keeps profitability low and should be replaced but beekeepers can’t afford to do so.
It will be interesting to see how the commission will assess the information in the report and reveal how they intend to address the apiculture crisis unfolding. It appears that time is of the essence.
If you'd like to share your thoughts on the EU beekeeping crisis, please head over to our Facebook page.