PRESS RELEASE - Louvain la Neuve, June 21, 2016
The 2016 Bee Week took place between the 13th and 16th of June in the European Parliament on the initiative of the Bulgarian MEP Mariya Gabriel (EPP). It was its 5th edition, and the second hosted by Mariya Gabriel. For the first time, Bee Life was co-organiser of the event.
A high level conference at the European Parliament on Tuesday untitled “Bees caring for Europeans, Europeans caring for bees?” was opened by a panel including high level personalities like HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Philip McCabe, President of Apimondia, Pekka Pesonen, President of Copa-Cogeca and Mr Daniel Calleja Crespo, Director General of DG Environment. A number of satellite events shaped the Week: a forum of discussion between farmers and beekeepers, a scientific symposium on collaborative models, the screening of the movie “Demain”, a film by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent and a Bee village, where visitors could discover the life inside a hive thanks to a giant observation hive settled in the middle of a garden of plants providing nectar and pollen for pollinators.
The high level conference welcomed many different stakeholders and diverse point of views on the threats faced by bees and on the way to remedy them. This year, the novelties mainly came from Professor Lucas A. Garibaldi, who presented how agricultural crop yield can be enhanced due to pollinators’ density and diversity. For him, pollen is as much a production factor as others more widely recognized like water or nutrients.
Moreover, Professor Pierre Rasmontwas in charge of bringing to the panel insights on the impact of climate change on pollinators and in particular on bumblebee populations in the European Union. These contributions were thought and seen as baseline for the much-needed dialogue between farmers and beekeepers. Indeed, the 2016 Bee Week had a strong focus on cooperative models that seek win-win relationships and solutions in primary production.
The Commission was represented through the three DGs more directly concerned with bee-issues: DG Environment, DG Agriculture and DG Health and Consumers. It was clear that the European institutions still lack of the holistic approach needed to solve the field problems observed. Many participants wondered if the interservice group on bees was still active.
The conference has been rich in discussion subjects, ranging from the need for research to understand the interactions of the stressing factors affecting bees, to the need for dialogue between farmers and beekeepers and the implementation of cooperative models. The threats for bees are well identified today, we increasingly know the situation on the decline of pollinators and the solutions to put in place are already available (reduction of pesticide use, plant diversity in the agricultural landscape or better access to information for field operators like farmers and beekeepers).
Overall, Bee Life is happy with its engagement in the Bee Week. The perspective brought to the discussions, together with the input of the EPBA and Poll’Aisne Attitude, permitted to open the dialogue towards a more respectful and environmentally-friendly vision of agriculture and landscape and showed even the economic interest for farmers of having this vision. The contribution of Lucas A. Garibaldi was much appreciated and hopefully the demonstration of his ideas will stay in the minds of our policy makers.
Francesco Panella, president of Bee Life, said: “Today we heard a lot of different ideas to solve the situation for bees and beekeepers. Some of them remain to me theoretical, despite of the fact that some field practitioners brought to us high quality data. In the future, I would like to see less time allocated for discussion and more time allocated to the implementation of concrete actions. The status of pollinators is dramatic and on top of that climate change is going to worsen the situation. What precisely will we do to change the tendencies?”
This year’s edition proved to be a positive transition towards more listening and consideration of field problems suffered by beekeepers and ratified by bee scientists. Bee Life can only hope that the next editions will see its participation anew and that they will lead to even more consideration of beekeepers’ problems and pollinators decline as well as agreement on constructive solutions readily implemented.
Bee Life European Beekeeping Coordination
Tel: +32 10 47 16 34
Place Croix du Sud, 4 bte L7.07.09, 1348 Louvain-la-Neuve