Excessive Pesticide Use Threatens Turkey’s Bee Population, Experts Say


Turkey has witnessed a worrying reduction in bee populations across the country and experts believe excessive use of pesticides and climate change could be the culprits for mass colony disappearances.

Speaking to the Anadolu Agency (AA) on Monday, the head of Turkey’s Beekeepers Association said climate change combined with dangerous amounts of pesticides used by farmers was wiping out entire colonies across the country. countries and provinces such as southern Adana and central Konya have been particularly affected.

“Climate change due to global warming is causing massive deaths in bee populations. Meanwhile, the reckless use of pesticides in agriculture also harms honey making. The use of pesticides that are harmful to bees should be banned outright, or beekeepers and farmers should come together to find a solution, ”Ziya Şahin told AA.

“Pesticides should not be used while flowers are blooming. And when the flowering period is over, they should only be used early in the morning or at night because every mistake leads to death in bee colonies, ”Şahin added.

According to Åžahin, although the exact number remains unknown, it is estimated that around 30% of bees in colonies in Adana and Konya provinces have been lost to pesticides.

“This causes the colonies not to produce honey,” he said.

Expressing similar concerns, the head of the Istanbul Beekeepers Association criticized farmers for ignoring advice on using pesticides.

“The Ministry (of Agriculture and Forestry) tries to take the necessary precautions when it comes to pesticides, but our farmers have this ‘I know better’ attitude. Our farmers must be careful, ”said Onur Çilenk, adding that the number of bee losses in Istanbul increased by 50% compared to last year.

A bumblebee searches for nectar on a flower, in Çanakkale, Turkey, 2015. (Photo by Carl Holtman)

The rapid decline in bee populations is not, however, a problem exclusive to Turkey, as many countries around the world have been reporting colony collapse for several years.

Although the exact nature of the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder has eluded scientists for years, they suspect that pesticides play an important role. According to two separate studies by British and French scientists, even low doses of widely used pesticides can harm bumblebees and bees, interfere with their spotting abilities and cause them to lose their way.

And there is a tremendous incentive to solve the mystery behind the collapses, because according to a 2016 UN report, between $ 235 and $ 577 billion in annual global food production depends on direct contributions from pollinators such as bees.

“The loss of bee colonies has several causes, namely varroa mites, viruses, pesticides, climate change and other stressors for bees. It is not surprising that colony collapse results in reduced pollination rates and honey production, which is reflected in the economy, ”said Sibel Silici, professor of agricultural biotechnology at Erciyes University. from Turkey.

“Massive bee deaths cost the economies of Austria and the Czech Republic between $ 24 million and $ 36 million in 2017, for example. Bees are important pollinators of crops and wildflowers. Therefore, the losses will have consequences for agriculture that will far exceed expectations, ”Silici warned.


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