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UK faces food security catastrophe as honeybee numbers fall

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Crop pollination via honeybees sinks to second lowest in Europe as study calls for greater protection of wild pollinators

 

 

The UK faces a food security catastrophe because of its very low numbers of honeybee colonies, which provide an essential service in pollinating many crops, scientists warned on Wednesday.

 

New research reveals that honeybees provide just a quarter of the pollination needed in the UK, the second lowest level among 41 European countries. Furthermore, the controversial rise of biofuels in Europe is driving up the need for pollination five times faster than the rise in honeybee numbers. The research suggests an increasing reliance on wild pollinators, such as bumblebees and hoverflies, whose diversity is in decline.

 

"We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now," said Professor Simon Potts, at the University of Reading, who led the research. "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."

 

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jan/08/uk-food-security-honeybees

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the only reported fall in U.K. honey bees is in the topic headline !

 

crop pollination by honey bees sinks to second lowest in Europe . .. no evidence of any sinking !

 

 actually no story at all ... 

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Plus

 

 

The study found that demand for insect pollination was growing five times as fast as the number of honeybee colonies across Europe because farmers were growing more biofuel crops such as oilseed rape.

 

In Britain the amount of land used to grow biofuels to meet European renewable energy targets rose by 87,000 hectares, or 15 per cent, between 2005 and 2010. Over the same period the number of honeybee colonies fell by 15,750, or 5 per cent.

 

Last winter a third of all honeybee colonies in England were lost, double the proportion lost during the previous winter, according to the British Beekeepers Association. It blamed poor and changeable weather for the increased losses.

 

Simon Potts, who oversaw the research, said: “We face a catastrophe in future years unless we act now. 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 £1.8 billion to replace.

 

“There is a growing disconnection between agricultural and environmental policies across Europe. Farmers are encouraged to grow oil crops, yet there is not enough joined-up thinking about how to help the insects that will pollinate them. We need a proper strategy across Europe to conserve wild bees and pollinators — or we risk big financial losses to the farming sector and a food security crisis.â€

 

Tom Breeze, another scientist involved in the study, which was published in the journal PLOS ONE , said: “We do not have the security we need [to ensure pollination of crops]. If we were to have a catastrophic loss of wild pollinators we would not have enough honeybees as back-up.â€

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