Honey Bee Colonies Plummet 16% Across Europe, Study Shows
Hive collapses reported to be trigger of mass decline
Honey bee colonies across Europe have dropped by 16 percent over the winter 2017–18, the COLOSS (Prevention of honey bee Colony Losses) has reported.
COLOSS, a non-profit organization that aims to protect honey bees, led a study covering 36 countries.
The lead researcher, Allison Gray, sent a COLOSS questionnaire to 25,363 beekeepers across Europe and other countries including Algeria, Israel, and Mexico.
An overall loss rate of 16.4% of honey bee colonies during 2017/18 between the countries was reported.
The questions sent to beekeepers included:
(a) were alive but had unsolvable queen problems (e.g., a missing queen, laying workers, or a drone-egg laying queen),
(b) were dead or reduced to a few hundred bees
(c) were lost through a natural disaster (from various possible causes).
The most pronounced collapses were reported in Portugal, Northern Ireland, Italy, and England which a 25% drop.
But smaller bee farms saw higher losses than larger ones, according to tot he authors.
"The overall loss rate in winter 2017/18 was highest in Portugal (32.8%), a new country to the survey. Other countries with high losses (above 25%) were Slovenia, Northern Ireland, England, Wales, Italy, and Spain, countries mostly in Western Europe," wrote Gray.
Loss rates were the lowest in Northern Ireland, Norway, and Algeria, and the year before that in Central Europe.
Winter losses connected to queen problems was 1% in Bulgaria to 20.3% in Slovenia, whereas for winter 2016/17, the rate for this loss for Slovenia was the lowest for the study.
The survival of the colony depends on the hive's queen.
If the queen fails to lay eggs or goes missing, the result will be the collapse of the colony.
Other risks are the lack of forage or food supply consisting of nectar and pollen.
Gray discovered that intense foraging on bees plant sources was also a contributing factor to hive collapses.
Last year, Neon Nettle reported that Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, was a probable cause for killing honey bees worldwide according to a new report from PNAS.
The threat could potentially leave a massive dent in the global economy according to other reports.
The Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind the queen, could be down to Glyphosate.
Globally, honey bees are the world's most important pollinator of food crops.
It's estimated that 33% of the food people eat from around the globe rely on pollination by bees.
The bee population decline could trigger lower crop yields, resulting in food shortages.