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‘Bees are dying’: Beekeepers stage Paris mock funeral

Philippe Huguen, AFP | Pesticides are thought to be responsible for bees' high mortality rate.

Bees in France are dying at an alarming rate, say beekeepers who staged a mock funeral in central Paris on Thursday, calling on the government to take urgent action to stave off an ecological disaster.

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French beekeepers say an average of 30 percent of bee colonies died following the last winter, a devastating blow they blamed on the use of pesticides across the country.

Numbering 70,000, most of them small producers, the beekeepers say the ravaged bee population has severely affected the honey harvest, threatening their livelihood. The colonies have deteriorated so badly that some beekeepers may not be able to carry on, demonstrators said.

A small delegation marched towards the Elysée Palace, the president’s residence in Paris, but were stopped by police.

Pesticides destroy insects and other organisms harmful to cultivated plants and crops, with knock-on effects through the food chain.

“Eighty percent of the insects have disappeared in the past 30 years, and 30% of birds in the last 15 years, we're witnessing the collapse of wildlife,” said François Le Dudal, a beekeeper from Brittany.

“We're at a turning point with our environment, nature, and we're going to pay a dear price for this and that'll come very soon,” Le Dudal added.

An EU court upheld last month a partial ban on three insecticides known as neonicotinoids, saying that the European Commission had been right in 2013 to restrict their use to protect bees.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS)

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