What is the Asian hornet invasion going to cost Europe?

Map showing spread of Asian hornet.

(EurekAlert/Pensoft Publishers) Since its accidental introduction in 2003 in France, the yellow-legged Asian hornet is rapidly spreading through Europe. Within its native and invasive range, the hornet actively preys on honeybees. Due to its active praying on wild insects, the Asian hornet also has a negative impact on ecosystems in general and contributes to the global decline of pollination services and honey production. In a recent study, French scientists tried to evaluate the first estimated control costs for this invasion.

EU Commission bans Bayer pesticide linked to harming bees

Image of Bayer flags.

(Reuters) The European Commission decided not to renew approval for thiacloprid. The Commission based its assessment on findings of the European Food Safety Agency published in January last year. The findings highlighted concerns about the active substance being toxic for humans and present in too great a concentration in ground water. The pesticide also harms bees and bumblebees, weakening their immune systems and impairing their reproduction, the findings said.

Bumble bees exposed to Chernobyl-levels of radiation consume more nectar

Image of bumble bee in testing container.

(British Ecological Society) Researchers found that exposure to chronic low-dose radiation, similar to levels found in the Chernobyl exclusion zone, negatively affects bumble bee energy use by increasing their metabolic rate and food consumption. “An increase in nectar consumption for an individual bee could have important ecological consequences…”

80,000 wild honey bee colonies nesting in tree cavities in European forests?

Image of wild honey bees flying out of tree cavity.

(Julius-Maximilians-Universität) Wild populations of the western honey bee were widely assumed to be extinct in Europe. “However, recent fieldwork studies reveal that wild honey bees still exist in forests: Their colonies mainly nest in tree cavities.” So far, wild honey bees have only been observed in northern Poland and Germany, but new research estimates there could be as many as 80,000 wild honey bee colonies in European forests.

Members of European Parliament call for reduction in pesticides to protect bees

Image of honey bees on frame.

(EU News) The Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee for the European Union on Tuesday approved a resolution highlighting weaknesses in the EU Pollinator Initiative that render it inadequate to address the main causes of pollinators’ decline in Europe. The committee proposes that a reduction in the use of pesticides be set as a “common indicator” to evaluate how effective national measures are in protecting bees and other pollinators. To help further decrease pesticide residues in bee habitats, members of the European Parliament want the reduction of pesticide use to become a key part of the future Common Agricultural Policy.

Neonicotinoids: despite EU moratorium, bees still at risk

Image of honey bees on comb.

(CNRS) Despite a 2013 moratorium on the use of neonicotinoids in the European Union, residues of these insecticides can still be detected in rape nectar from 48 percent of the plots studied, their concentrations varying greatly over the years. These findings indicate that persistent use of neonicotinoids with certain crops in open fields threatens bees and pollinators frequenting other, untreated crops; they confirm that residues remain and spread in the environment.

European lawmakers vote to strengthen bee protection

Image of honey bees.

(StarTribune) The European Parliament on Wednesday blocked a diluted proposal by the 28-nation bloc’s executive arm on protecting bees from pesticides, arguing it didn’t go far enough. European lawmakers adopted a resolution urging the European Commission to “table new legislation based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge.” They said the Commission weakened its initial proposal due to the opposition of 16 member states which did not want provisions in the draft on how pesticides should be tested to protect bees from chronic exposure.