November 19, 2008

EU Parliament Member Calls For Recovery Zones For Honey Bees

An EU lawmaker suggested that honey bees should be given large swaths of Europe's farmlands so that they can recover their struggling population size.

"If we continue to neglect the global bee population, then this will have a dramatic effect on our already strained world food supplies," said Neil Parish, who chairs the European Parliament's agriculture committee.

Honey bees are a useful part of nature's cycle because they help to pollinate several of the world's crops.

Scientists have expressed that a drop in the bee population could harm agriculture.

Parish, a British conservative, said farmers could help bees by planting patches of bee-friendly flowers -- including daisies, borage and lavender.

"We're talking about less than one percent of the land for bee-friendly crops -- in corners where farmers can't get to with their machinery, round trees and under hedges."

Genetically modified crops, climate change, pesticides and modern farming techniques have all been blamed for making bees vulnerable to parasites, viruses and other diseases. However, more research is needed to find the root cause, scientists say.

"The experts themselves are mystified," said Parish. "A failure to act now could have catastrophic consequences."

The European Parliament is expected to recommend in its vote Wednesday evening.