A new spring for bees

07 April 2014 | News story

A high-level conference at the European Parliament on 2 April 2014 as part of the third European Week of Bees and Pollinators once again highlighted the urgency for action to halt population declines and the loss of bee diversity. 

Piet Wit, Chair of the IUCN's Commission on Ecosystem Management, outlined the work of the IUCN Task Force on Systemic Pesticides. The Task Force studies scientific evidence of the impact of neonicotinoid pesticides on the environment and in particular on bees. Piet emphasized the need to use neonicotinoids carefully and under the Integrated Pest Management scheme which is not always fully implemented.

The need to limit pesticide use was also noted by other contributors, including Tonio Borg (European Commissioner in charge of Health). All contributors stressed the crucial environmental, economic and social value of bees.

Loss of bee species was also the focus of IUCN’s most recent press release on bumblebees, which showed that 24% of Europe’s bumblebee species are threatened with extinction. These results are part of the European Red List of pollinators which aims to assess the conservation status of all bees in Europe following the IUCN Red Listing guidelines. These assessments are due to be completed by the end of 2014.

The aim of the conference was to contribute to the assessment of current bee health, determine key threats to bee populations and outline actions to support the beekeeping sector. The event was chaired by MEP Gaston Franco, and organized in collaboration with the Foundation Prince Albert II of Monaco. Speakers included representatives from OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), OECD, STEP (Status and Trends of European Pollinators), the Joint Research Centre, ECPA (European Crop Protection Agency), University of Liege, COPA-COGECA, the European Commission and European Parliament. H.S.H Prince Albert II of Monaco spoke during the opening session of the conference.