Why Europe Needs Neonicotinoids

January 13, 2014

Editor’s Note:  Europe needs neonicotinoids because bees fare worse in countries that ban the advanced pesticides.  As discussed here, bee populations have sharply declined in France following a neonicotinoid ban and while bees are thriving in Ontario which allows neonics.  Thus, it’s not surprising that beekeepers in the UK fear a ban on neonicotinoids.

From: MercoPress

Europe short of bees to pollinate crops, warns report from Reading university

Europe needs an extra seven billion bees to pollinate its crops, with Britain in the poor position of having less than a quarter of the honeybees it requires. The demand for insect pollination across Europe is outpacing the growth of honeybee colonies as farmers grow more oil-bearing crops like oilseed rape and sunflowers, and also fruit.

Researchers at the University of Reading said agriculture is increasingly reliant upon wild pollinators such as bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies for these crops.

They said the European Union’s bio-fuel policy, which encourages the growing of these oil-bearing crops, is making Europe more reliant upon these wild pollinators.

“If these wild bee populations collapse there would be nothing to compensate for them,” Dr Tom Breeze form University of Reading said. Dr. Breeze, who conducted the research, warned that Europe lacks coherent policies to protect these wild insects’ habitats.

“If these wild bee populations collapse there would be nothing to compensate for them,” Dr Breeze was quoted by Farmers Weekly.

He suggested an increase in honeybees would offer more insurance for pollination, while farmers could encourage wild pollinators by leaving wild flower margins around their fields.

Dr Breeze said there is less than 25% of the honeybees we need in Britain for pollination, and there is little data on how good wild insects are at pollination. This led him to suggest that oilseed rape yields might not be as high as they could be in Britain if honeybee numbers were much higher.

Europe as a whole has two-thirds of the honeybees it needs for pollination with a deficit of more than 13.4m colonies, or the equivalent or about 7 billion bees.

The university conducted its work between 2005 and 2010 across 41 European countries when there was a big growth in oilseed crops for use in products like bio-diesel.

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