UNEP Report Highlights Threats to Bees

10 March 2001: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has released a report titled "Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators," which shows that bee colonies worldwide are under threat, with serious consequences for biodiversity and food security.

The report highlights the latest scientific findings on the role and status of populations of wild and commercially-manged honey bee colonies and analyses possible answers to why the bee group, the most important pollinator worldwide, is declining and what are the possible mitigating measures and recommendations to avert such decline. The report notes that habitat degradation, increased pathologies, invasive species, pollution, and the use of chemical pesticides are some of the drivers of such decline. In addition, climate change consequences, such as fluctuations in greening, flowering and aging periods, and an overall shortening of the growing season may hamper the livelihood of pollinators.

The report also notes that the consequences in terms of food security are very serious, given that, as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates, 71 out of the 100 crop species that provide 90% of food worldwide are bee-pollinated.

The report concludes that pollination is "not just a free service" but one that requires investment and stewardship to protect and sustain it. It stresses the need for: a renewed focus on the study, conservation and management of native pollinating species to complement the managed colony tradition; and economic assessments of agricultural productivity that includes the costs of sustaining wild and managed pollinator populations. [Publication: Global Honey Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators]