There is no single cause for ailing bee health, says a University of Sussex research team led by Prof. Dave Goulson in a recent review paper for Science. In fact, many stress factors are involved and they interact to cause the bee decline that has been causing concern among politicians, scientists, farmers and the public in many countries of the world, concludes the paper.
In an interview with Vox Media about his study, Dave Goulson adds that the study result represents good news, because even though the causes and their degree of interaction are complicated and vary from place to place, the solutions don’t have to be complicated: “In fact, this almost makes it easier. If you’re working off the assumption that it’s a single cause, then it’s hard to do anything until you figure out what that is. But if you acknowledge that it’s probably lots of things – disease, lack of food, pesticides – then improving the situation for any or all of those makes sense. For instance, there’s experimental evidence that if you make a bee hungry, it becomes more susceptible to disease. So if a bee is well fed, it has a better chance of coping with the disease.”
“The study of Goulson et al. confirms Bayer’s own findings that many factors combine to stress bees,” says Christian Maus, Bayer’s Global Pollinator Safety Manager. “We may not agree with all the details in the review, but one thing is clear: With so many factors and stakeholders involved, no one can resolve bee health challenges alone. We must join forces to find solutions that work for everyone involved.”
Bayer initiatives to promote bee health
Bayer has been convinced for several years that pollinator health depends on many factors, among them poor nutrition, parasites, diseases, as well as apicultural and agricultural practices. Bayer has set up a new knowledge platform in order to share best practices in sustainable agriculture. This platform is called Bayer ForwardFarming and can be visited at: www. forwardfarming.com . Bayer’s ForwardFarming partners are commercial agricultural businesses who test and implement best management practices to improve farms’ profitability and to preserve the environment by e.g. sharing know-how on bee-friendly agricultural practices.
Other Bayer initiatives include a research project in the Upper Rhine Valley, which has been studying how the insect world changes with the planting of flower strips alongside crop fields. After four years of observing and evaluating the impact, the difference is very clear: The number of wild bee species has doubled. This year, the test project will be extended to verify its viability in the large-scale farms in Eastern Germany.
For an abstract of the Goulson study:
To read the interview with Prof. Goulson: