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This week : Bees buzzing away...possibly forever

Text by Eve IRVINE

Latest update : 2009-05-18

Bees have been dropping like flys for the last number of years, with dreadful consequences to the economy as our report from South Africa shows.

This week ENVIRONMENT looks at the plight of the humble bee. Populations of the tiny laborer have been dwindling for the past number of years their disappearance, as you will see, has a heavy impact on the economy. Last year alone about 30% of Europe's bee hives died. Most keepers blame modern farming methods and pesticides. In South Africa beekeepers are really feeling the sting as a mysterious illness attacks bees there. A killer virus that could wipe out 12 million bees in the Western Cape, and this would have a devastating impact on the regions biggest employer, a fruit industry there which relies on bees to pollinate crops.


The humble bee is a source of great richness.  The value of the services of pollinating insects in France alone is estimated at 150 billion euros a year. Bees pollinate everything from almonds to carrots, providing in fact one third of our diet. If the stripy stingers vanish, many of the stables we take for granted would be threatened, including of course honey which, as Gulliver Cragg warns, is not always as golden as it might appear.


The average spent by French people on fair-trade products every year is just three euros per person. Not a lot, but, fair-trade is a market that in these times of economic hardship is still attracting consumers who prefer to pay that bit more for a product that promotes sustainable development and poverty alleviation. As a result some of France's main supermarkets are going shopping in Mali.





Date created : 2009-05-18