Bee deaths from pesticides threaten nation’s honey and beekeepers in Greece
Bees swarm around Evropi-Sofia Dalampira as she walks along Anel Honey Park’s on-site honeybee colonies next to beekeeper Kostas Boudouths, who is checking his hives. She was leading a tour group of kindergarteners through the park, showing the kids how bees gather nectar and pollinate plants.
This kind of work – evangelizing bee farming and ticking off fun bee facts to visitors – is one part of what Dalampira, an environmental scientist and director of the park, does. The rest of her time, though, is spent advocating for measures that would prevent hundreds of thousands of bees across Greece from dying due to pesticide use – a crisis that cuts into the honey industry, which is a mainstay to Greek food, as well as affects the flower, fruit and vegetable yield in the country.
“Without bees there are no plants, and without plants there is no life,” said Dalampira, who holds a degree in the conservation of biodiversity and sustainable exploitation of native plants. But that’s going to have to change or the effects, she said, will be devastating.
Honeybees are dying
In Greece, the bee population has fluctuated over the last few years for a number of reasons, including the use of insecticides called neonicotinoids used to ward off bugs from plants and trees. When bees pollinate, they absorb the poison, and it makes them sick. Scientists tracking the issue say as many as 50 percent of bees that come in contact with these chemicals will die within eight months.
The result is that honeybees are dying, which means their honey production per colony is diminishing. Wasps and bumblebees – which don’t produce honey, but are vital to the process of pollination – are dying as well.
“Honeybees are the bees that a beekeeper wants to keep,” said Dalampira. But “all the other bees – bumblebees and wasps, both of which help with pollination – are the types of bees that are in danger of extinction.”
Honey is one of the staples in the Greek diet. It’s also an important export because of its high quality in flavors and color. Between ancient traditions of farming honeybees traced back to before Aristotle, and the more than 24,500 beekeepers around the country, bees are an important part of Greek culture. These factors, along with the environmental benefits bee species provide to ecology, mean that the struggling bee population in Greece needs to be addressed.
Read the rest of the article at: https://nujournalismingreece2017.wordpress.com/2017/05/19/bee-deaths-from-pesticides-threatens-nations-honey-and-beekeepers/
Photo by Suma Hussien