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Europe has 7 billion too few honeybees to pollinate crops

Posted on 14-01-2014 by Astrid Kromhout

Europe has 7 billion too few honeybees, which amounts to 13.4 million bee colonies, to properly pollinate its crops, according to new research from the University of Reading.

The discovery, made by scientists at the University of Reading’s Centre for Agri-Environmental Research (CAER), shows that demand for insect pollination is growing five times as fast as the number of honeybee colonies across Europe. The research was published 8 January 2014 in the Journal PLOS One. One of the co-authors is Naturalis researcher Koos Biesmeijer who worked together with colleagues at Wageningen University.
European farmers need bees more than ever, as they grow more insect-pollinated oil crops, such as oilseed rape and sunflowers, and fruit.

Unsung heroes

Leadauthor Professor Potts said: “This new research provides yet more evidence of the need for greater protection of our wild pollinators, the unsung heroes of the countryside, upon whom humans depend so closely for our food supply. At the moment there is a disconnection between agricultural and environment policies. Farmers are being encouraged to grow crops which are dependent on insect pollinators, yet they do not get enough credit for helping the insects they are increasingly reliant upon.”
Dr Tom Breeze, who conducted the research said: “This study has shown that EU biofuel policy has had an unforeseen consequence in making us more reliant upon wild pollinators.”
In another study researchers found a direct example of the economic value of insect pollinators to the British apple industry. Insect pollinators add £37m a year to the value of just two varieties of British apples, Gala and Cox, by increasing fruit yield and quality.

Publication PLOS One

This is the link to the entire publication on PLOS One.


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