Climate Witness: Giuseppe Miranti, Italy
Bees are changing their behaviour due to warmer temperatures
Honey always had its place in an Italian buffet: it’s sweet and delicious. But over the last years something has changed. Due to warmer temperatures flowers are blooming at unusual times, which makes the bees change their behaviour. As a consequence the level of activity in the apiary has slowed down drastically.
The biological cycle of bee parasites is just another serious problem: today these parasites live longer and are more persistent - because of the warmer climate. This has negative impacts on the bee population and on the honey production.
All this is not just a result of local or temporary phenomenons, but definitely due to a worrying climatic trend."
I have my doubts that bees will be able to adapt to man-made climate change
Over the centuries bees have instinctively learnt to adapt to changes in their natural environment, but I have my doubts that they will we able adapt to man-made climate change.
Nowadays Italian bee-keepers find it really difficult to deal with the changes, but they keep trying to compensate for the recent imbalances in the bees’ ecosystem.
Many bee-keepers are currently testing new products and methods, e.g. adjusting the nutrition in order to ensure that bees are in a good condition when the flowers start blooming.
Let’s remember what Albert Einstein once said: “Should the honey bee ever disappear, mankind would only survive a few years beyond it.
Watch video about Giuseppe Miranti and the impact of climate change on his bee farming and honey production and his work to adapt to the changes.
Scientific backgroundItalians know what it means to suffer from impacts of climate change. The human cost of the 2003 heatwave was higher in Italy than in any other EU country. According to government figures, 20,000 people died. Almost 2,000 forest fires were reported during that summer, and drought-related agricultural damage cost around €5 billion. In 2005 the country has experienced another heatwave, as well as severe droughts. Temperatures have nudged 40ºC in parts of the country, with the Government warning that around one million people are at serious health risk.
Italy has generally become drier, with the number of rainy days falling by about 14 per cent since 1996. But the drop in the number of rainy days was accompanied by a rise in intensity of rainfall, meaning more heavy rainstorms. It is predicted that Italy will be one of the EU countries worst affected by future global warming, with overall rainfall levels shrinking still further, and many more prolonged and intense heatwaves.
It seems that the Mediterranean Sea is also heating up rapidly: a recent study found that sea temperatures around Italy rose by almost 4ºC between 1985 and 2003. Sea levels are expected to rise by between 20 and 30cm by 2100, which threatens around 4,500 square kilometers of costal plains.