Declines of managed honey bees and beekeepers in Europe.
Simon G Potts, Stuart P M Roberts, Robin Dean, Gay Marris, Mike A Brown, Richard Jones, Peter Neumann, Josef Settele.
Growing evidence indicates that European managed honey bees are in decline, but information for Europe remains patchy and localized. Here we compile data from 18 European countries to assess trends in the number of honey bee colonies and beekeepers between 1965 and 2005. We found consistent declines in colony numbers in central European countries and some increases in Mediterranean countries. Beekeeper numbers have declined in all of the European countries examined. Our data support the view that honey bees are in decline at least in some regions, which is probably closely linked to the decreasing number of beekeepers. Our data on colony numbers and beekeepers must, however, be interpreted with caution due to different approaches and socioeconomic factors in the various countries, thereby limiting their comparability. We therefore make specific recommendations for standardized methodologies to be adopted at the national and global level to assist in the future monitoring of honey bees.