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EU policy is driving up demand for pollination faster than honeybee numbers
Date:1/9/2014

Research conducted by the University of Reading's Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, and funded by the EU FP7 project STEP and the Insect Pollinators Initiative Crops project, indicates that demand for pollination services has risen five times as fast as the number of colonies across Europe.

The study, led by Professor Simon Potts, compared the number of available honeybee colonies in 41 European countries with their demands for pollination services in the years 2005 and 2010. The findings indicate that, although the total number of honeybee colonies increased in some European countries, the demands for the pollination services supplied by these pollinators has increased much faster due to the increasing demand for biofuel feedstocks.

In just over half the countries studied, including the UK, France, Germany and Italy, honeybee stocks were found to be insufficient to supply these pollination services alone.

Dr Tom Breeze who conducted the research said "This study has shown that EU biofuel policy has had an unforeseen consequence in making us more reliant upon wild pollinators like bumblebees and hoverflies to meet demands for this basic ecosystem service." Adding "The results don't show that wild pollinators actually do all the work, but they do show we have less security if their populations should collapse."

The findings are of particular concern for the UK which the study suggests has now less than 25% of the honeybee colonies it needs. The only country with less security is the Republic of Moldova which is both the poorest country in Europe and the most reliant upon agriculture to provide its income.

The researchers also note that, if taken as a continuous region where colonies could move
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Contact: Thomas D. Breeze
t.d.breeze@reading.ac.uk
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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