To address the lack of pollen and nectar:
flowers to save the bees
More than 30,000 hectares transformed into a larder for bees by Soufflet Agriculture.
The aim is to strengthen their immune systems and prevent high death rates
Thursday 6 October 2011 – At a time when the European Parliament’s Agriculture Commission is set to approve a report on bee health recommending an improvement in pollen and nectar sources for bees, the Biodiversity Network for Bees (Réseau Biodiversité pour les Abeilles) and the Soufflet Group are committed in the field to effectively combine farming and biodiversity. More than 30,000ha has thus been transformed into a real larder for bees, with intercropped nectar-bearing plants providing bees with the pollen and nectar they need, especially now. Autumn, which marks the end of the beekeeping year, is a very important time for bees which need to collect quantities of pollen to ensure they winter well and thus limit winter mortality.
Combining farming and biodiversity benefits with Etamine brown mustard
These improvements are part of the nitrate-retaining intermediate cropping system (known as CIPAN in France). Crops established so that the ground is not left bare in winter are mixes based on mustard, pulses (vetches, peas and lentils) and nectar-bearing species such as phacelia. But it is another species, Etamine brown mustard that has attracted the attention of the Soufflet Group which is conducting experiments in the field with the Biodiversity network for Bees. The aim is to measure the attractiveness to bees of Etamine brown mustard compared to white mustard.
Why such close interest in Etamine brown mustard? Because it has greater benefits for farming than other varieties. Its substantial root development contributes to improving soil structure. Its early development facilitates combination with pulses to enrich the soil with nitrogen. That is the aim of the MICA range mixes designed and marketed by Soufflet Agriculture. Crop management with Etamine brown mustard also makes for healthier soil and a reduced disease risk for following crops. Lastly, its early sowing (from the end of summer harvesting) contributes from September to the bees’ food stock, the cornerstone of biodiversity because of their value as pollinators estimated at 153 billion euros world-wide.
The first results from the experiments are interesting. Attractive for the quality of its pollen, Etamine brown mustard is also high in nectar as shown by the activity of feeding butterflies (see table below).
Eat well for heightened resistance
As the European Parliament reminds us, faced with the many causes that have resulted in large numbers of bee deaths over the last few years, the quality of bees’ food stock is a key factor. It is true to say that bees need quality food to withstand Varroa parasites, the world’s number one killer of bees, and Nosema ceranae, nicknamed “bee AIDS” because of its effect on bee immune systems.
This approach by the Soufflet Group in partnership with the Biodiversity Network for Bees is contributing to boosting contacts between beekeepers and farmers. The improvements implemented by farmers are very positive because they provide plentiful, high quality food for pollinating insects before the first cold weather sets in. The impact of these intercrops introduced in association with the farming world, on maintaining bee immune systems is thus an encouragement to extending the approach.
Head of Marketing and External Communications
Tel.: 06 82 81 38 72
Biodiversity Network for Bees
Tel.: 06 67 17 10 65
Flowers to save the bees - 06 10 11