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France Stepping Up Efforts to Save Honeybees

June 06, 2015

Honey Bees

Segolene Royal Launches Initiative to Save Honeybee Colonies

A new program to protect honeybee colonies has been enacted by Segolene Royal in collaboration with the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy. This plan was unveiled shortly after the United States launched its plan to sustain honeybee colonies. Much like the United States’ plan, Royal is proposing restoration areas in parks and public gardens as an area for the insects to grow and thrive. While this is a great first step, the plan does not stop there.

According to an article posted on SlowFood.com, plans to also regenerate the green areas along roads are also being considered, which would mean cutting back growth less and allowing flowers to bloom longer. This practice would help to increase the variety of pollinators by almost 30 percent and, according to the French Ministry of Ecology, “will be rolled out across 12,000 km of the national road network." While restoring wilderness areas is important, Royal is also pushing for the end of use of neonicotinoids.

Neonicotinoids have been found to be the leading cause of Colony Collapse Disorder, or CCD, for honeybee colonies. "It's not just a matter of renewing the moratorium that expires in 2015, but extending it to other substances and uses," said Royal. The moratorium in question is currently being enforced in Europe and bans four active ingredients, three of which are neonicotinoids. Additionally, this legislation controls how neonicotinoids are used, but it does expire in 2015.

With the moratorium’s expiration looming, the French Ministry of Ecology has decided to not wait for European law makers to take action. Instead, they have petitioned the French Agency for Food, Environmental, and Occupation Health and Safety, or Anses, to write up new restrictions for the use of neonicotinoids. Both the French Ministry of Ecology and Royal feel that waiting for Europe to respond is a waste of time - The European framework doesn't allow for a comprehensive ban," said Royal.

Pollinations, and most importantly bees, are responsible for almost 80 percent of plant production in both France and the United States. Honeybee populations have dramatically fallen over recent years - according to Henri Clément, spokesman of the French National Union of Beekeepers "The situation is catastrophic. The mortality rate of bees in France has reached 30% on average, and is as high as 60% in some areas." This type of decline in the bee population has severe implications not only for the honey and Manuka honey industries, but for the food industry as a whole.

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