Landmark research shows 29% of honeybee colonies died in winter of 2012-13, with summer losses also high at 9.7%
The European commission said the study revealed mortality rates were better than had been expected. "These data show that, while higher bee colony mortalities do exist in some parts of the EU, bees are neither disappearing, nor is colony collapse disorder taking place."
But noted that it did not assess wild pollinators which, alongside honeybees, are vital in pollinating three-quarters of all food crops. "Scientific data on wild pollinators, including wild bees is scarce, but current indicators show a worrying decline. Preliminary results [of other research] already suggest that wild bees face a serious threat," said an EC statement. A recent European assessment of bumblebees indicated a quarter of the 68 species were threatened with extinction.
"While overwintering honeybee colony losses in Europe are variable and sometimes considered unacceptable, on the whole they are still much lower than in the US," said Prof Simon Potts from the University of Reading.
Prof David Goulson, a biologist at the University of Sussex, criticised the report: "It does seem odd that the EC spent over €3m on a project on bee health and the words pesticide and insecticide are not used once in the document."