The pollinator crisis

Bees have become increasingly endangered of late, which is also confirmed by the recent reports by world-renowned organisations (a United Nations’ report, a report of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a report issued by the non-governmental environmental organisation Greenpeace). The 2015 IUCN report, which contains the first comprehensive assessment of the European bee species, states that nearly 10% of bees are facing extinction, and around 5% of them are probably endangered, while no data is available for nearly 57% of species. 

The number of pollinators is in decline around the world, while the need for pollination is on the rise, especially in developing countries. In some parts, this situation has become known as ”the pollinator crisis”.

 

State of bees around the world

A mass disappearance of bees occurred in California in 2004. Since then, the US beekeepers have been facing great losses of bees over winter, which causes enormous economic damage. Bee losses in the USA amounted to 33% in 2017.

Bee losses have occurred in Europe as well. There are great differences in terms of individual countries and individual over-winterings of bee colonies, with 12% of bee colonies perishing on average in 2016.  

 

Reasons for the decline

Researchers have established that the main reasons for the mortality of bees include:

  • varroa mites, nosema disease and complications with queen bees, and viral infections in Europe;
  • mass use of products intended to protect plants in modern farming and their potential impact on pollinators, especially plant protection products in the neonicotinoids classification, as their harmful effect on bees has been thoroughly documented;
  • new pests, which spread faster around the world due to globalisation;
  • urbanisation, which is shrinking the agricultural space;
  • climate change;
  • global trade in low-quality honey, which impacts the beekeeping economy.

If bee families continue to disappear in Europe at current or even higher rates, this could lead to the breakdown of the economy and put our health and well-being at risk.

A study published in the journal Lancet predicts that smaller consumption of fruit and vegetables due to climate change which also affects pollinators, will cause twice as many deaths by 2050 than hunger and malnutrition.

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