• • • A third of French bee colonies died last winter
A report published by the French government, based on data gathered from over 13,000 beekeepers, found that nearly 30 per cent of the country’s bee colonies died in the winter of 2017-2018. The death rate jumped to 35 per cent for farms with less than 10 bee colonies, according to the report published by the ESA agricultural agency. But larger farms with 50 or more colonies fared slightly better, losing 28 percent of their bees. France’s national beekeepers union, the UNAF, has expressed grave concern. “This data only pertains to a four-month period” during winter, it said. According to the union, bee colonies normally see this death rate of 30 percent over the course of a whole year.
Paris took a step in this direction last month in September when it banned neonicotinoids, a class of insecticides found to be toxic to honeybees. The move was hailed by beekeepers and environmentalists, who point out that the decline in the bee population – due to a number of factors, including pesticides – disrupts pollination, having a knock-off effect on agriculture and the environment. But some farmers have opposed the ban, arguing it may lead to lower yields and make their crops less competitive with imported produce.