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Wild bees: Champions for food security and protecting our biodiversity
Date:9/6/2012

Pollinating insects contribute to agricultural production in 150 (84%) European crops. These crops depend partly or entirely upon insects for their pollination and yield. The value of insect pollinators is estimated to be 22 billion a year in Europe. Declines in managed pollinators, such as honeybees, and wild pollinator such bumblebees, solitary bees and hoverflies, are therefore of growing concern as we need to protect food production and the maintain wildflower diversity.

Scientists involved in STEP, a large-scale project funded by the 7th Framework Program (FP7) of the European Union, have therefore taken an inclusive approach looking at the status and trends of all Europe's pollinators.

New findings have been presented at a dedicated STEP symposium at the 5th EurBee meeting held in Halle, Germany on 3-6 September 2012. Prof Simon Potts from the University of Reading, UK and coordinator of STEP opened the discussion: "To help Europe secure sustainable food production and conserve its biodiversity we need to provide policy makers with clear evidence of who pollinates our crops and flowers and what are the best options to safeguard pollination services in a changing world"

More than 32 million European records of pollinators and plants have been analysed. "We have shown that not only has bee diversity been declining but communities are becoming more uniform in their composition", commented the lead scientist Dr Koos Beismeijer from Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis, The Netherlands

One key threat to bees is agrochemicals; "we are now finding strong negative effects of pesticides, not only in honeybees and bumblebees, but also solita
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Contact: Prof Simon G. Potts
s.g.potts@reading.ac.uk
44-118-378-6154
Pensoft Publishers
Source:Eurekalert  

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