Here, I relate what the journalist said in his article “En Europe, le déclin des abeilles frappe lourdement les pays du Nord”. All quotes, originally in French, were translated by me.
Bees are “pollinating insects essential to 84% of plants cultivated in Europe”. The decline of bees would not have been specifically studied, which was done with the “Epilobee” study. It shows that the countries of northern Europe have the highest death rates: 42.5% (Belgium), the United Kingdom (38.5%), Sweden (31.1%), Finland (29.8%) and France (27.7%), against 9.1% for Greece, 7.6% for Italy and 16.3% for Spain.
During the beekeeping season, it is for France that mortality is highest during the beekeeping season: 13.6%, against less than 10% in all the other countries studied.
The study funded by the EU and piloted by ANSES mobilized> 1,300 inspectors who visited 3 times between 2012 and 2013 nearly 3,300 apiaries totaling 32,000 bee colonies. They reported the mortalities and the presence of the main pathogens of bees such as varroa and nosema parasites. However, they did not measure the presence of pesticides. The word is missing from the 30-page report:
“This study is a little strange, quips the apidologist David Goulson, professor at the University of Sussex (United Kingdom). They spend over 3 million euros studying bee health and don’t even mention the word “pesticide”! “
According to the apidologist Gérard Arnold, research director at the CNRS, the choice not to identify pesticide residues would be “political, not scientific”. Gilles Salvat, director of animal health at ANSES replies that the cost of such analyzes would have been prohibitive.
The results exclude the responsibility of only natural pathogens in the high mortalities, diseases affecting only a small proportion of hives (in France, 1.5% for American foulbrood, 1.2% for varroa and less than 1% for nosema). It would also be a shame if the environment of the hives was not described, which precludes “the search for possible links between the mortalities and the types of agriculture practiced near the hives.”
Finally, the fact that only mortality was monitored implies the study neglects the weakening of the colonies.