Bees are a key component in crop reproduction

Bees are a key component in crop reproduction
© Keystone


by Jeremy Allen
Lausanne – 20 June 2008 | 10:52

The Swiss government announces measures to discover the reasons behind a sudden and sharp decline in the country’s bee population, and to counter it. Mobile phones, a parasite and insecticides are among the potential culprits.

If you are having a picnic in the countryside this weekend you may notice that there are far fewer bees hovering over flowers and thus pollinating them. Earlier this year, thousands of beekeepers in Switzerland and other neighbouring countries found their hives devoid of bees. In western Switzerland alone, losses of up to 30 percent were observed, representing three times the norm. But the question of why these bees are dying is still clouded with mystery.

The Swiss national working group for agriculture (OFAG) underlined in a statement on Thursday that bees are responsible for 80 percent of the pollination of plants. In order to try and shed light on their reduction of numbers, it is implementing research in this area.
There are a handful of theories for the reasons behind this decimation. One is natural: the Varroa parasite. It lays its eggs in the honeycomb; once its young hatch, they destroy the bee’s larvae. The other potential causes are artificial. One suggestion is that some insecticides are responsible for the reduction in the population of the honey-producing insects. Another hypothesis is that electromagnetic waves emitted by mobile phones affect the bees’ navigation system, therefore causing them to err from their path when returning back to home.