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Europe takes steps to battle bee decline

Sept. 15, 2010 at 6:49 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- In response to the ongoing decline in the world's bee populations, the European Union says it will increase its financial support of Europe's beekeeping sector.

The $35 million annual support of 2008-2010 will be increased to $43 million from 2011 to 2013, EUobserver reported Wednesday.

The increased money from Brussels will go towards national research projects dedicated to discovering methods for controlling threats faced by bees.

Domesticated honeybees are among Europe's most important pollinators, but they have been hit by a plague of problems over the last decade, including habitat loss, climate change and parasites, experts say.

Of greater concern are mass die-offs dubbed "colony collapse disorder," which first hit North America in 2006 and has since spread to Europe.

Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain have been hit particularly hard by the problem, the cause of which is still not understood.

"About 30 percent of our food comes from plants pollinated by bees so it is clear that we will all be in big trouble if bees continue to disappear," EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said.

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