Hiv­ing off CAP sup­ports could help save the bees

Irish Independent - Farming - - NEWS - DE­CLAN O’BRIEN

A HIVE of bees should be viewed as a sin­gle live­stock unit for the pur­poses of CAP, the INHFA has pro­posed.

In a novel ad­di­tion to its CAP po­si­tion, the INHFA has ar­gued that sup­port­ing the keep­ing of bees by des­ig­nat­ing each hive a live­stock unit would help farm­ers by pro­vid­ing an­other in­come source, while also giv­ing the en­vi­ron­ment a much-needed boost through in­creased num­bers of pol­li­na­tors.

The fall-off in wild bee pop­u­la­tions across Europe is a ma­jor cause of con­cern for both en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists and farm­ers. Around 50pc of all Euro­pean bee species are threat­ened with ex­tinc­tion.

The mas­sive de­cline in num­bers is blamed on loss of na­tive for­age, the use of chem­i­cal sprays and fer­tilis­ers by farm­ers, global warm­ing, and pests such as the var­roa mite.

The keep­ing of bees in man-made hives — which is termed api­cul­ture — is in­cluded in the new CAP leg­is­la­tion, Brigid Mur­phy of the INHFA pointed out.

“Ire­land has the smallest api­cul­ture bud­get in the EU and no farm api­cul­ture pro­gramme.

“Ex­plor­ing the eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal po­ten­tial of the hon­ey­bee and im­ple­ment­ing an api­cul­ture pro­gramme for farm­ers is long over­due,” Ms Mur­phy main­tained.

“Each mem­ber state is obliged to choose cer­tain types of in­ter­ven­tions in the api­cul­ture sec­tor in­clud­ing tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to bee­keep­ers and ap­plied re­search. The EU will fund 50pc of the ex­pen­di­ture of these in­ter­ven­tions,” Ms Mur­phy ex­plained.

“Pol­li­na­tion is cru­cial to plant re­pro­duc­tion, and most in­sect pol­li­na­tion is pro­vided by wild bees. In Ire­land we have one hon­ey­bee and 97 dif­fer­ent wild bees — 20 bum­ble bees and 77 soli­tary bees. All are in de­cline,” she said.

Bee­keep­ers com­monly de­rive in­come in a va­ri­ety of ways — honey, pol­lina- tion services, honey-mak­ing equip­ment, sell­ing nu­cleus colonies, rear­ing and sell­ing queens, and beeswax.

Man­aged honey bees also con­trib­ute to wild bee de­clines through com­pe­ti­tion for food sources and the spread of dis­ease.

“Un­like man­aged species, wild bees do not make honey. They need to find food ev­ery day or starve,” added Ms Mur­phy.

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