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Honeybees Bad winter for Swiss bee colonies

A bee eats the nectar of a flowering crocus in Zurich

(Keystone)

Bee colonies in Switzerland and Liechtenstein diminished by 30% over the winter, according to a survey of 1,000 Swiss beekeepers.

Published on Monday, the survey by an umbrella organization of beekeeper associations known as Apisuisse blamed the decline on a parasitic mite, insecticides and other environmental factors.

It’s a trend that adds to European and American farmers’ longtime

worries about the declining population of honeybees, a key crop pollinator that originated in Europe.

Bees play an important role in global food production by carrying the pollen from flowering plants, but there have been widespread reports of so-called colony-collapse disorder. Only a few of the 20,000 bee species are honeybees, which are cultivated in hives.

Buzz kill

Among the challenges to bee farming is lack of land, spread of disease, parasites like the varroa mite and the use of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides.

Over the winter more than 20% of the bee colonies were lost – of those, 14% did not survive and 6.8% had problems with queen bees, meaning the death of the colony. Another 9.9% were too weak in the spring of 2017 to develop into strong colonies, Apisuisse said in a statementexternal link.

“In strong colonies, only seven of the ten settlements in the fall of 2016 were still available in spring for pollination and honey harvesting,” it said.

An urban paradise for bees

In order to find out how bees live in urban environments, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape have been ...


swissinfo.ch and agencies/jmh

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