French rains drench bees and their habitats

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Extreme rains in Northern Europe are having an impact on some of the smallest European Union constituents: insects.

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Heavy rains and lower temperatures are saturating bee colonies and their habitats in France.

In Saint-Selve, southwestern France, one beekeeper says June is meant to be a “honey flow” month – but few hives are filled with the nectar-seeking insects.

“Basically we’re supposed to be in a honey flow, so filled up with honey, but there are very few of them,” Dominique Laforce said. The beekeeper said the rains are wetting the flowers to an extent that the bees can’t get inside, “and it won’t go out and most of all the bee won’t succeed in finding out the nectar,” she added.

Four years ago the European Commission adopted its 10-year biodiversity strategy, aiming to put the Continent’s natural environment on a path to recovery by 2030. The plan features bee targets, including “halting and reversing the decline of pollinators”.

According to the strategy, the EU will enlarge existing Natura 2000 areas, with strict protection for areas of very high biodiversity and climate value, and will repair landscapes that have high potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters.

Earlier this week the Council of the EU approved a landmark bill that further aims to strengthen the bloc’s biodiversity. But experts say without quickly addressing climate change, pesticides and habitat loss, bees could disappear for good.

Marc-André Selosse, microbiologist at the National Museum of Natural History, said extreme weather like rain is just another “issue” facing the bees. “This can also lead to the extinction or scarcity of the species,” he said.



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