Large areas of central and southern Russia have seen a major decline in their bee populations in recent months, BBC reported. The head of the Russian beekeepers’ union, Arnold Butov, said 20 regions had reported mass bee deaths.
The affected regions include Bryansk and Kursk, south of Moscow, and Saratov and Ulyanovsk on the Volga River.
Butov, quoted by Russian media, said the crisis might mean 20% less honey being harvested. Some officials blamed poorly regulated pesticide use.
Yulia Melano, at the rural inspection service Rosselkhoznadzor, complained that her agency had lost most of its powers to control pesticide use since 2011.
Russia produces about 100,000 tonnes of honey annually. Butov said the union’s members were collecting data on bee losses, so that by 1 August a detailed report could be submitted to the Russian government, BBC adds.
Sunflowers and buckwheat are just two of the staple crops pollinated by bees in Russia. Orchards also rely on bees for pollination.
There are fears that the bee deaths will push up not only honey prices, but also those of other popular foods. The crisis has spread as far as the Altai region in Siberia, more than 4,000km (2,485 miles) east of Moscow.