Lack of bees threatens crops, experts warn
A bee collects nectar of a crocus in Zurich, Switzerland, 08 March 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/ENNIO LEANZA
Rome, May 20 (efe-epa).- A lack of bees and other pollinators is leading to a loss in crops in certain regions of the world, beekeeping associations warned Monday on the occasion of Bee Day.
During a conference in the Italian capital Rome, vice-president of the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations (Apimondia), Peter Kozmus, illustrated the situation with maps of the world showing how crop production was suffering in different regions due to there not being enough pollinators.
There are over 20,000 species of bee on the planet, Kozmus said, adding that many of them were getting smaller when it came to the size of their population.
Bee populations were taking a hit due to a number of factors, including the use of pesticides, genetically modified crops, plagues, intensive farming, climate change and urbanization, according to Kozmus.
More than 75 percent of the crops that feed the world’s population depend one way or another on pollination by an insect or animal, and so the lack of pollinators puts the world’s supply of coffee, apples, almonds, tomatoes and cocoa in jeopardy, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The global value of these products is on the rise and exceeds $200 billion annually, according to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).
But 40 percent of the invertebrate species of pollinators, above all bees and butterflies, are at risk of extinction.
Professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines, Cleofas Rodríguez, is investigating plant behavior to gain an understanding of the time it takes for pollination to happen and not applying pesticides at times that could affect bees.
She recommends allotting space to plant flowers and other plants to host these insects and restore damaged ecosystems so they can bounce back and reprise their function. This was done in the Philippines to help species recover following Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
President of the Slovenian Beekeeping Association, Bostjan Noc, said it was important to list species that were in danger in order to protect them, ban the trade of fake honey – between 60-80 percent of honey on the market is adulterated – and pass on knowledge to maintain the practice of beekeeping.
The experts flagged up 15 projects in Tanzania aimed at conserving 13,000 bee colonies and creating 1,700 jobs, while in Bangladesh women are linking up to make honey at home. EFE-EPA