The overall situation is alarming, however: bee populations are declining in Belgium and throughout Europe. In 10 years’ time, the mortality rate of bees increased from 17% (in 2004) to 32% (in 2013). This is due to various causes: lack of suitable food, diseases, pesticides and harsh winters. The consequences may be even more serious: 84% of plants in Europa depend on pollinating insects.
EDF Luminus has protected biodiversity for many years and, whenever possible, goes beyond the legal requirements. Within this scope, the company decided to support the protection of bees. In late 2013, it therefore entered into a partnership with BeeOdiversity, a young enterprise managing over 250 colonies. BeeOdiversity has monitored the mortality rate of bees across Belgium in collaboration with the universities of Ghent and Liège since 2004. It gives beekeepers who have already lost many bees the opportunity to be supplied with bees free of charge. In exchange, the beekeepers have to follow a strict protocol centred around the protection of bees and not the production of honey. Over 100 beekeepers have so far partnered with BeeOdiversity.
To participate in this project, EDF Luminus had to:
- Select sites which provide suitable food within a 3 km radius from March to October. In addition, the hives were installed in rural and not in urban areas;
- Accurately identify the locations, making it possible to comply with the regulations as to the location of colonies (at least 20km from public roads, at least 10m from barriers of 2m or higher);
- Inform staff on the prevention of bee stings and what to do in case of bee stings;
- Follow the protocol imposed by BeeOdiversity, which ensures a mortality rate of less than 5%;
- Inspect the colonies at fixed intervals to check their health.
The BeeOdiversity report from early March states that the bees have survived the winter well and predicts that honey yields will be excellent this summer.