Beekeepers concerned about floral health

The number of bees and bee species has fallen so dramatically over the last year few years that Danish beekeepers worry about the future of wild plants

Danish wilderness areas are not what they used to be. Dwindling numbers of bees across the country are depriving wild plants and fields across the country of natural pollinators, allowing stinging nettles, hemlock and dandelions to take over.

The union of Danish beekeepers attributes the decline to the parasitic varro mites that wreaked havoc on bee populations across Europe in the 1980s. The task of pollinating wildflowers has been left to the few species not wiped out by the parasitic mite.

'In my childhood there were lots of bee species in Denmark, but today there are only two or three left, which I believe have been imported from the Netherlands to pollinate flowers in Danish greenhouses,' said Søren Schougaard of the beekeeper's union. 'Our own bumble bees died a long time ago.'

There were some 15,000 beekeepers across the country in the 1970s, but like the bees, that number has also dwindled to about 3500, said Schougaard.

By the 1980s the number of bee species had fallen by 80 percent. Researchers also blame climate change and intensive industrialised farming for the decline, reported daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende.

The reduction in biodiversity also affects the diversity of wildflowers. Plentiful wildflowers are dependant on particular bee species that are drawn to certain types of flowers.

Schougaard said the loss of floral diversity could be as many as three species a week.

'If this development continues, we will have a very different and bleaker Denmark. When wildflowers disappear, so do a long list of other pollinating insects, which could impact the bird population as well,' said Schougaard.

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