Cold reduces number of sightings in annual bee count


The average number of bees spotted in the annual national bee count is down compared with previous years because of the chilly spring.

Some 3,400 volunteers counted an average of 15 bees and other pollinating insects each during the counting period, five fewer than were spotted last year and the year before.

The honey bee was seen most often, with a total of 11,000 sightings, followed by the European orchard bee and the red mason bee and, lower down the list, the bumble bee.

‘Bees may have been dying off in greater numbers in the winter period,’ bee expert Koos Biesmeijer of nature institute Naturalis told broadcaster NOS.

This year’s bee count had to be extended by a week because of the cold because bees need to warm up before they can fly, Biesmeijer said. Honey bees and mason bees, which profit from warmer conditions in hives and bee hotels, showed themselves despite the lower temperatures but other bee species waited for the cold to ease off, he said.

There are some 360 bee species in the Netherlands, half of which are on the red list of threatened species. Around 34 species have already become extinct.

The annual count is meant to monitor bee numbers and promote ways of stopping their decline. ‘Bees and other insects pollinate 80% of our edible plants and almost 90% of our wild plants,’ Biesmeijer said.

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