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Parasite weakens bee colonies

International Green Week (IGW)

Jan 27, 2015
The more flowers are growing, the healthier our bees: Visitors spin the wheel to win a packet of seed mix on the stand.

The spinning wheel clatters as it spins round: The winner receives a packet of Apis-Vitalis – a bee-friendly flower seed mix. All around informative posters of buzzy bees and blossoming flowers decorate the Bee Health Meeting Point and a video explains the reasons for the so called “bee mortality”. The 20 m² exhibition stand is where Fred Klockgether meets and talks to interested visitors. The honey bee health advisor provides them with information and discusses with beekeepers and farmers how to improve honey bee health. The main subject this year is again a mite called Varroa destructor. “Most people have never heard of the parasite that transmits deadly bee viruses”, says Klockgether. “We have to explain to them, what our honey bees are really suffering from.”

Critics often accuse modern agriculture and crop protection products of being responsible for bee colony losses in Europe but the experts at the Meeting Point put the facts into context: According to the Julius Kühn-Institut, only a few hundred bee colonies in Germany are affected annually by an incorrect usage of crop protection products – a number that nonetheless must be reduced. This year, the beekeeper association Deutscher Imkerbund expects an overwintering loss of at least 30 per cent of honey bee colonies – some 300,000 bee colonies across Germany. Klockgether: “Beekeepers, who care for the bee’s health and not for bee politics know that these losses are caused by the Varroa mite and not by agricultural practises. So far, there are no standardized and guaranteed treatments against the destructive mite that work for every beekeeper.”

At the IGW, beekeepers can learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of current therapeutic options and pick up helpful advice from qualified experts. Each day, up to 1,000 people visit the Meeting Point and many interesting conversations between specialists arise. “It is very positive that we are represented here next to beekeeper associations, so that there is a balance between different opinions”, continues Klockgether.

And the bee experts also take time to talk to young visitors: School- and kindergarten groups admire the huge model of a bee and the dangerous-looking Varroa mite on display at the stand. The children’s favourite is the book “Toby and the Bees”. And in some school gardens, this summer, the seed mix will flower – helping the important insects to find enough food.

All about the International Green Week http://www.gruenewoche.de/en/

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