Russian officials have quickly put the blame for the losses on pesticide use run rampant.
Earlier this month, the spokeswoman for the state agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, Yuliana Melano, the state-run Rossia-24 television channel, which showed the footage of dead honey bees, that in 2011 the agency had relinquished most of its powers to control pesticide use.
“The Economic Development Ministry, in our view, needs to take responsibility,” she said. “They were the ones to propose less regulation.”
In a statement, the local branch of the Investigative Committee said that a subsidiary of Russia’s farming conglomerate Rusagro “failed to issue timely and sufficient warnings” to beekeepers. Bee experts say that pesticides should only be administered at night when bees aren’t in the fields and that beekeepers should be aware that pesticides are being administered so they can take necessary precautions.
Russian bee experts in interviews also blamed the honey bee losses on pesticide misuse.
Butov, who is preparing a report for the Russian government to be delivered on Aug. 1, said that the people hired to spray pesticides by large-scale corporate farms often don’t have the right certification needed to administer the “strong-acting poisons” safely.
Alfir Mannapov, the president of the National Association of Beekeepers, said that regional officials should have been better monitoring the issue.
Bee losses have confounded experts all over the world in recent years. Despite dozens of papers written about the massive die-off in the United States in the mid-aughts, Dave Goulsen, a bee specialist at the University of Sussex in Britain, said that scientists had still not pinpointed what exactly had killed the bees.
Experts do blame pesticides — specifically neonicotinoids — but also varroa mites, the loss of natural habitat and flowers, and, more recently, climate change.
Russia isn’t the only European nation to have seen massive honey bee die-offs this year: Officials have sounded concerns in France, too.
The French farming union cited the same cause.
The Moscow Times