www.agra-net.com - California almond growers may not have enough honey bees to pollinate this year’s crop of 800 000 acres. This is due to winter losses and less populous hives.
Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, told Central Valley Business Times: “We need 1.6 million colonies, or two colonies per acre, and California has only about 500 000 colonies that can be used for that purpose. We need to bring in a million more colonies but due to the winter losses, we may not have enough bees.”
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BBC News - Last week the European Commission proposed that member states restrict the use of certain classes of pesticide that are believed to be harmful to bees.
The Today programme’s science correspondent Tom Feilden explains that this comes after the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) issued guidance on the use of chemical neonicotinoids, in which they recognised “high acute risks” to bees who encountered residue from these sprays in pollen and nectar in crops like oilseed rape and sunflowers.
Speaking to Today presenter Justin Webb, Martin Taylor, chairman of Syngenta, explained how the pesticide industry is reacting:”You have to look after beneficial insects, and the industry knows this very well.”
BBC News - Researchers say they have unlocked the genetic secrets of honey bees’ high sensitivity to environmental change.
Scientists from the UK and Australia think their findings could help show links between nutrition, environment and the insects’ development.
It could, they suggest, offer an insight into problems like Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious cause of mass bee deaths globally.
The findings appear in Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
“Honey bees live in complex societies comprising tens of thousands of individuals,” explained study co-author Paul Hurd from Queen Mary, University of London.
Wales Online - A blueprint to protect the threatened honey bee in Wales has been outlined – with the planning system and roads to be made pollinator-friendly.
Populations of honey bees in Wales and the UK have been savaged by a bee-killing mite which is threatening a global catastrophe.
The varroa mite not only sucks the “blood” of billions of honey bees worldwide, it is also spreading diseases that are causing colonies to collapse one after another.
Environment Minister John Griffiths said pollinator populations of bees and hoverflies have been on the decline for the last 30 years.
Mr Griffiths said it is worrying news for the UK’s economy because 20% of its cropped area is made up of pollinator-dependent crops.
At the Royal Welsh Show in July, he set out his intention to produce an Action Plan for Pollinators in Wales.
Now, the Welsh Government has today published a report on the key issues around pollinator populations and plans to gather evidence of population decline.
BBC - It has been a disastrous year for British honey, with bee farmers reporting heavy yield losses. After the worst honey crop in years, could some of Britain’s most distinctive flavours be at risk?
“It’s been absolutely terrible this year,” says Derbyshire bee farmer Tony Maggs.
“I’m down 90% on my normal yield of honey. It’s been the worst main crop I’ve ever had.”
The total honey crop for England and Wales is estimated to be down 50% on an average year, which equates to a loss of £7m for UK honey production, according to a recent survey carried out by the Bee Farmers’ Association (BFA).
“It is not being alarmist to say that… many bee farmers will cease to trade as a result of this season,” says Margaret Ginman, general secretary of the BFA.
But given that the majority of the UK’s honey is imported, is this a serious cause for concern?