A recent study shows that 24 per cent of European bumblebee species may face possible extinction.
The study, conducted by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), showed disturbing rates of declining population within 68 species of bumblebees indigenous to Europe. Findings show that 46 per cent of bumblebees are at risk due to changes in agricultural land, development in urban areas, and intensification of agriculture.
The bumblebee is fundamental to agricultural sustainability. Three species in particular are crucial to European crops: the endangered Bombus Fragrans, the Bombus Hyperboreus, and the endangered Bombus Callumanus.
According to the international news release from the IUCN, along other pollinators, “bumblebees contribute to more than 22 billion Euros to European agriculture per year.”
Ana Nieto, European Biodiversity Officer, of IUCN stated, “such a high proportion of threatened bumblebees can have serious implications for our food production.”
Bumblebees pollinate staples in our day-to-day dietary needs such as vegetables like tomatoes and peppers, as well as fruits and seeds. Bumblebees are also responsible for the pollination of many trees and flowers.
With Europe receiving the second highest rating of all the world’s top agricultural exporters in the 2013 European Commission agricultural trade analysis of 2012, it is evident that agriculture is an international point of prosperity for the continent.
In the same analysis it was stated that “demand for EU [European Union] products is essentially driven by export markets.”
Janez Potocnik, Environment Commissioner of the EU said: “The plight of Europe’s bumblebees is a problem that needs to be tackled on all fronts. The European Union recently banned or restricted the use of certain pesticides that are dangerous to bees.
“However, efforts clearly need to be scaled up, not least through better mainstreaming of biodiversity into other policies, but also to raise awareness about the benefits pollinators bring,” Potocnik added.
Europe is currently working on a strategy that focuses on the immediate need to put an end to biodiversity loss.
An end to biodiversity loss – well that is just the bee’s knees.