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Cardiff/Halle/S./Bern. The number of bee colonies in Central Europe has decreased over recent decades. In fact, the number of beekeepers has been declining in the whole of Europe since 1985. This is the result of a study that has now been published by the International Bee Research Association, which for the first time has provided an overview of the problem of bee colony decline at the European level. Until now there had only been the reports from individual countries available. As other pollinators such as wild bees and hoverflies are also in decline, this could be a potential danger for pollinator services, on which many arable crops depend, according to what an international team of scientists have written in a special edition of the Journal of Apicultural Research.
In their investigation the researchers analysed data that was available from national beekeeper magazines and national reports, in order to calculate the total number of bee colonies and beekeepers. In this way the number of bee colonies between 1965 and 1985 could be reconstructed for 14 European countries and for 18 European countries between 1985 and 2005. The compilation provides us with a preliminary overview of the situation in Europe. It is not complete however, since for example France, Spain and some Eastern European EU countries are missing from it, as no suitable data could be procured for them. While in Europe and the USA the number of bee colonies has declined, the number on a worldwide scale is thought to have increased by approximately 45 percent over the last 50 years according to a 2009 report from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Unfortunately however this finding is of little use to the agrarian economy in Europe and the USA, for although honey can be imported as a product of the bees, this
|Contact: Doris Boehme|
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres