While they are buzzing around Switzerland gathering and spreading pollen, bees are also contributing CHF 350 million to the economy, according to a recent report by Swiss agriculture agency, Agroscope.
Without these industrious bees, Switzerland’s (and the world’s) agriculture would wither. Though in Switzerland only 14 percent of cropland directly depends upon bee pollination, that still amounts to about 38,000 hectares of arable crops, plus 10,000 hectares of fruit and 3,200 hectares of berries”, says the report. The research was lead by entomologist Louis Sutter.
Sustainable populations of husbanded honey bees and wild bees – both threatened around the world – are crucial to maintaining viable pollination levels, says Sutter. As of now, bee populations in most areas of Switzerland dependent on crop pollination aren’t worrisome, except in the western region of the plateau between the Jura and Alp mountain ranges and the canton of Valais, according to the report.
How to protect bee populations? Among other things, Sutter’s report recommends a very pretty solution: flowers. Lots of flowers. Ribbons of flowers in otherwise fallow farmland between crops. “Bees require nesting and wintering possibilities as well as a supply of multiple and continuous food, which can be reached for example through floral fallows, hedges or flowered bands”, says the Agroscope report.
It’s the proverbial win-win for both agriculture and biodiversity, says Sutter. Not to mention lovely to look upon.
By Bill Harby