Research Institute for Organic Agriculture, Frick

Beekeeping and farming – dependence and contradiction

In many countries of the northern hemisphere, populations of honey bees and other pollinating insects have been in decline for some years. The causes of this decline have not yet fully been clarified. There are, however, strong indications that intensive agriculture can impact pollinators negatively. Many agricultural activities affect pollinating insects and thus affect the work of beekeepers. Farmers, for their part, depend on the ecosystem service of pollination. Although numerous studies on the health status of honey bees are now available, Switzerland’s beekeepers and farmers have never been asked how they perceive the associated problems and how they view approaches to solving these problems. These issues were explored in a qualitative survey. Results showed that the surveyed farmers generally know little about the problems related to honey bees. Among the beekeepers, perceptions of problems and views concerning solution-oriented approaches are very diverse. Although many beekeepers report negative experiences with agricultural activities, their general attitude towards agriculture is positive. In their view, most problems arise from diseases and parasites of bees, and from the ways that individual beekeepers manage their hives. More care than in the past should be taken to maintain this good relationship between farmers and beekeepers, as the mutual dependence is large.

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