Buzzed off

How many different species of bee are there in Europe?


There are 1,965 species, according to the best authorities – and pretty soon there will be some 1,768. That’s because about 9% of the species will probably soon be wiped out thanks to intensive farming and the destruction of bee habitats. Worrying, because bees are vital pollinators, and much of our crops rely on them.

But the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which did the study on which this assertion is based, doesn’t really know how Europe’s bees are doing.

It says that 150 species have declining populations – that’s just 7.7% of the total; 12.6% (244 species) are stable; 0.7% (only 13 species) are actually increasing. Then it adds, crucially: “The population trends for 1,535 species (79%) remains unknown.”

So before we all start weeping buckets – and The Reaper loves bees as much as anyone – let’s reflect.

It is at least possible that some of the 1,535 species could be in rampant good health. Not very likely, admittedly. But possible…survival of the fittest and all that.