Beekeepers in Bulgaria are continuing protests to call for a moratorium on the use of pesticides hazardous to bees, with a nationwide demonstration scheduled for Earth Day on April 22.
Protests already have been held in the Black Sea city of Varna and in the town of Shoumen. A protest was to be held on April 16 in the town of Turgovishte.
The Union of Bulgarian Beekeepers is citing European and Bulgarian studies saying that neonicotinoid pesticides harm the immune systems of bees, shortening their lives and aggravating the mass disappearance of bee colonies.
Beekeepers are upset that in the most recent EU-level vote on banning the use of three pesticides, Bulgaria was among countries that abstained.
The March vote was on a ban of three pesticides, clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiamethoxam, for two years. Thirteen countries voted in favour, nine against and the rest, including Bulgaria, Germany and the UK, abstained.
At an April 10 march, beekeeper Hristo Stoikov told Bulgarian National Television that in the past three years, close to 60 per cent of the bee population had disappeared. If the government failed to act, Bulgaria would be left with no bees.
Separate reports said that about 200 000 bees died in Bulgaria in 2012, about 20 per cent of the country’s bee population.
The Food Safety Agency maintains that it strictly monitors compliance with the ordinance regulating the use of pesticides.
While evidence that certain types of pesticides are devastating bee populations, Bulgarian beekeepers are insisting on the moratorium, saying that Italy had the same problem but after it introduced a ban, swarms had increased.
At the beginning of 2013, Brussels asked EU member states to prohibit the use of some pesticides on sunflower, canola, corn and cotton.
A recent report by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) concluded that the pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honeybees.
The Commission was expected to redraft its proposals ahead of another vote, the BBC reported in mid-March.
There are already some restrictions in place in France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia. But the idea of a two-year ban did not attract enough support after the UK and Germany both abstained, the BBC said.
(Photo: Nate Brelsford)