Ecology, Climate Change and Related News

Conservation Science for a Healthy Planet

Think of honeybees as ‘livestock,’ not wildlife, argue experts

Leave a Comment

January 25, 2018 University of Cambridge read full ScienceDaily article here

Contrary to public perception, die-offs in honeybee colonies are an agricultural not a conservation issue, argue researchers, who say that manged honeybees may contribute to the genuine biodiversity crisis of Europe’s declining wild pollinators….
…”Levels of wild pollinators, such as species of solitary bumblebee, moth and hoverfly, continue to decline at an alarming rate. Currently, up to 50% of all European bee species are threatened with extinction,” Geldmann said.Honeybees are vital for many crops — as are wild pollinators, with some assessments suggesting wild species provide up to half the needed “pollinator services” for the three-quarters of globally important crops that require pollination.

However, generating honeybee colonies for crop pollination is problematic. Major flowering crops such as fruits and oilseed rape bloom for a period of days or weeks, whereas honeybees are active for nine to twelve months and travel up to 10km from their hives. This results in massive “spillover” from farmed honeybees into the landscape, potentially out-competing wild pollinators….

…As with other intensively farmed animals, overcrowding and homogenous diets have depressed bee immune systems and sent pathogen rates soaring in commercial hives. Diseases are transferred to wild species when bees feed from the same flowers, similar to germs passing between humans through a shared coffee cup.

This puts added pressure on endangered wild European bee species such as the great yellow bumblebee, which was once found across the UK but has lost 80% of its range in the last half century, and is now limited to coastal areas of Scotland…

Jonas Geldmann, Juan P. González-Varo. Conserving honey bees does not help wildlife. Science, 2018; 359 (6374): 392 DOI: 10.1126/science.aar2269

View all articles

Comments are closed