A new study in the journal has revealed that UK honeybees are only providing a quarter of the pollination that is actually needed for all of the nation’s crops. Out of the 41 European nations studied, the UK had the second lowest level of bee colonies, which has led the experts to worry about the nation’s long-term food security. While the country’s crops are still being pollinated by other means — so-called “wild pollinators” like bumblebees and hoverflies — studies show the other species UK agriculture relies on are also in decline.
One reason for the shortage of honeybees is bee deaths due to pollution and insecticides, but the demand for biofuels has also increased the need for pollination, as the new crops being planted rely more heavily on insects to help them provide full yields. While action has already been taken in the EU to try to protect bees from the harmful effects of some toxic substances commonly used in agriculture, scientists argue that not enough is being done to protect the wild pollinators that have been picking up the slack in recent years.
If these species aren’t protected, the economic impact could be staggering, costing British farmers £1.8 billion in additional labor, an unsurprising number when you realize that a whopping 75% of all food crops require pollination. To make matters even worse, the UK isn’t the only nation struggling to properly pollinate its crops. France, Italy, and Germany are also running on a honeybee deficit. All in all, researchers say that Europe would need 13 million additional honeybee colonies to keep up with demand, the equivalent of 7 billion individual bees.
Via The Guardian