What future for bees?

30 January 2009

What future for bees?

The bee population is in trouble. Not only – to put it a little tactlessly – because the number of bee-keepers is declining as old apiarists die out and go unreplaced. But also because the number of bees is itself in sharp decline. There is less pollen and less nectar. This decline is caused by genetically modified plants and flower seeds.

Kartika Liotard In November 2008 SP Euro-MP Kartika Liotard drew attention to this problem. Less food and damage to the immune system increase bees' vulnerability to parasites. If bees fertilise fewer plants, yields of grain crops, vegetables and fruit decline. As Liotard says, "The absence of bees causes a chain reaction."

Researchers from the Wagening Agricultural University in the Netherlands today informed the country's farm minister, Gerda Verburg, that the number of bee populations was close to the lower limit of sustainability. "More research is needed to map out the background to this," says Liotard. "The dramatic decline in the number of bees is the writing on the wall: it's bad for the environment and bad for agriculture."

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