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Wanted: Billions of bees for European farms

Published on Jan 9, 2014 6:26 AM

PARIS (AFP) - Many countries in Europe face a worrying lack of crop-pollinating honeybees, a problem caused mainly by an European Union (EU) policy shift in favour of biofuels, scientists warned on Wednesday.

"Europe as a whole only has two-thirds of the honeybee colonies it needs, with a deficit of more than 13.4 million colonies - equivalent to around seven billion bees," they said.

Researchers at the University of Reading in southern England compared the number of beehives in 41 European countries with pollination demand from 2005 to 2010.

In 22 countries, honeybees were unable meet demand, they found - with farmers increasingly having to rely on bumblebees and other wild insects.

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