Wanted: 7 Billion Honeybees

Tree in rape seed field small
Oilseed Rape

Nothing like a sensationalist, big-number headline to grab attention. The scientists say that the deficit across Europe now amounts to 13.4 million colonies or around seven billion honeybeescertainly fits the bill. But, as ever, a little contemplative, close reading can be rewarding.

This University of Reading study has a “chicken and egg” aspect to it, since it suggests that more bees are required to pollinate biofuel feedstock crops, like oilseed rape, which have been planted aggressively to capture large financial subsidies related to biofuels.

So the increase of some 30% in biofuel feed crops between 2005 and 2010 dwarfed the 7% increase in honeybee colonies over the same period. But is this an artificial oilseed rape boom, or a honeybee shortage ?

Personally, I would have imagined that the enlightened self-interest of the farmers who cultivate oilseed rape would have included a pollination policy in order to maximize yields. See what you think….click here for the article.

And let me declare, off-topic, that I will be displeased, yea mightily, if my Suffolk School House bees cram their supers full of seaside-rock-hard crystalline oilseed rape honey this Spring. Rape biofuel, no problem. Rape honey, no thanks!



2 Replies to “Wanted: 7 Billion Honeybees”

  1. What a beautiful photo. I agree with you – if the farmers planting these huge swathes of crops maintained wild flower borders and nesting habitats, then they would be likely to have pollination from wild honeybees, bumbles and solitary bees.

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