Europe to Face Food Calamity Due To Rapid Loss of Bee Colonies, Study


The demand for pollination services in Europe is increasing at a faster pace than honeybee colonies, according to a study by the University of Reading's Centre for Agri-Environmental Research.

As honeybees play a major role in pollinating crops, which in turn give a healthy harvest, this phenomenon could adversely affect food availability in the continent.

For the study, Professor Simon Potts, lead author of the study, compared the number of honeybee colonies across 41 European countries to the demand for pollination services from 2005 and 2010.

Potts found that even though honeybee colonies increased in some countries, the pollination services increased significantly due to the rising demand for biofuel feedstocks. Honeybee colonies in more than half of the countries studied like the U.K., France, Germany and Italy, exist in insufficient numbers. This could hamper the ability to provide pollination services.

It is particularly tragic in the U.K., where bee colonies provide just 25 percent of the required pollination in the country. The Republic of Moldova, the poorest country in Europe is worse than the U.K. It is also the only country that relies heavily on agriculture.

They study indicates Europe's increasing dependence on wild pollinators, such as bumblebees and hoverflies. Europe comprises of two thirds of the honeybee colonies, a shortage of over 13.6 million colonies.

"We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now," Potts said in a press release. "Wild pollinators need greater protection. They are the unsung heroes of the countryside, providing a critical link in the food chain for humans and doing work for free that would otherwise cost British farmers £1.8bn to replace."

Majority of the important crops in Europe, such as rapeseed, sunflower, soybeans, apples and strawberries rely on insect pollination. As these crops are main agro-produces, the study conveys the need to implement methods to conserve and increase bee population.

"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. 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," Dr Tom Breeze, who conducted the research, said, Guardian reports.

The finding has been published in the journal PLoS One.

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