Euro MPs call for action over bee decline

Posted: 30 November 2008

Immediate action is required to tackle the drastic decline in bee colonies throughout Europe, members of the EU parliament have declared. The decline in the number of bees poses a threat not just to honey production, but to the pollination of plants and hence to food production across Europe, they say.

The European Parliament has now adopted a resolution pressing the Commission to invest in research to find the causes of the decline and to aid the creation of uncultivated ecological recovery zones for bees. The MEPs are also calling for:

  • research to establish whether there is a link between the use of pesticides, such as thiamethoxam, imidacloprid, clothianidin and fipronil, and bee mortality.

  • analysis of imported honey to detect the presence of American foulbrood bacteria, which is known to effect honey bees.

  • - a financial aid mechanism for beekeepers in difficulty, and "immediate support" from Member States for the beekeeping sector.
Bee on flower
Bee on flower
We rely on bees for pollinating our food crops. Photo © TVE
The MEP's move coincides with the last week's annual Earthwatch debate when five eminent scientists declared bees to be the most invaluable species on the planet. Yet, in the UK, the bee population dropped by around 30 per cent between 2007 and 2008, according to the British Bee Keepers Association.

This is a worrying statistic since three quarters of food production is dependent on bees and 84 per cent of vegetables grown in Europe depend on pollination, the MP's point out.

Jean Lambert, London's Green Party MEP, told this website: "The decline in the bee population is of serious concern to bee-keepers and farmers, but also to allotment holders and gardeners, who rely on bees for pollination. We need investment now in research into the parasites and diseases which are decimating the bee population, as well as other potential causes such as erosion of genetic diversity and cultivation of genetically modified crops.

"Threats to bees come from a variety of sources including the use of modified and treated seed, which produce less pollen and nectar, and a reduction of agricultural set-aside land. We need urgent action at all levels to address these issues if we are going to avoid a disaster in food production in the near future."

Links:Buglife concern over latest bee decline evidenceThe Plight of the Humble Bee - TVE Earth Report on the decline in bee populations in New Zealand.