In recent months there have been multiple reports of mysterious massive bee deaths in three areas of Russia. The most recent reports are from Siberia, and Russian authorities are now investigating why hundreds of thousands of bees have died.
The affected areas are in Russia’s Kemerovo Oblast region in southwest Siberia, the Belovsky district, which is also known as Kuzbass, where 145 bee colonies died that were valued at around $14,000 or one million rubles. Similar bee deaths were reported from Guryevsky in Kaliningrad Oblast and Krapivinsky in Kemerovo, but the number of bees lost is as yet unreported. Other mass bee deaths have recently been experienced in Russia’s Altai Territory at the border of Kazakhstan and Novosibirsk Oblast in south Siberia.
Regional farmers receive annual training about the proper use of chemicals with Rosselkhoznadzor, the federal rural inspection service, according to a spokesperson.
The Ministry of Agriculture has told the Russian news agency Interfax that they have clarified all circumstances surrounding the incident and have the date and time of the chemical treatment of the fields, the registration of the beekeepers and the number of bee deaths.
This 2:54-minute video by Radio Free Europe shows the situation on the ground:
Along with experts from specialized organizations, the ministry will perform an investigation to arrive at the cause of death and determine whether weed-killing chemicals or pesticides played a role.
Viktor Morozov, a beekeeper in Bobrovka village in the Tula region, which is about 120 miles south of Moscow, said the agricultural chemical pesticides that were banned in Europe were dumped in Russia and farmers use them because they are cheaper than other insecticides. The pesticide fipronil is specifically named as having been banned in the European Union but it is still legal in Russia. According to local beekeepers in the Tula region, one company uses it on local rapeseed fields.
Bees are dying and people are being poisoned. If agricultural chemicals killed the bees, will anybody take responsibility? Last summer over 30 Russian areas reported mass bee deaths. This was during the peak time of the honey harvest. By August 2019, the Agriculture Ministry estimated that 300,000 of the 3.3 million bee colonies nationwide had died.
Global bee colonies face survival threats from many sources: climate change, habitat loss, monoculture, parasites like the varroa destructor mites, and one of the biggest—pesticides and particularly the neonicotinoids that are deadly to bees.
Hopefully Russia identifies the cause of death and takes swift action to protect the bees, the planet and humanity.