LG launched the challenge of planting 47 million trees in Spain, one for every resident, in 2017 – so far, 5 million have been planted.
However, the consumer electronics company has embarked on another environmental challenge: the recolonization of the Iberian Peninsula with 47 million specimens of Iberian honeybees (“Apis mellifera iberiensis”). For the multinational, based in South Korea, the goal is to recover the species in decline but also to “promote the expansion and recovery of our ecosystems.”
What appeared to be a perfect, eco-friendly marketing campaign, however, had a catch: for experts, releasing so many millions of bees is far from a good idea.
For Concepción Ornosa, a professor and researcher at the Complutense University of Madrid, the idea of introducing native species is attractive, but they must be replaced by bees that are lost every year and do not repopulate en masse – the expert warned of the risk of “importing too much” this the subspecies. “If you put 47 million of a single species into the wild, you’re going to create a competition that will affect all the other species of wild bees, insects and butterflies that already inhabit the place,” he pointed out.
“They have also been shown to transmit fungi and viruses to other bees and do so through the flowers they pollinate, converting the pathogens,” the expert explained.
The project is from the technology company ‘Smart Green Bees’. “We will have 900 hives, which we want to reach in 2 to 3 years, scattered throughout the Spanish territory. So far, we have created 45 hives, with 250,000 bees in total,” said Paola Vecino, company biologist.
In Europe there are 9 million hives, 3 million of which are in Spain. “Just as one farm does not affect the ecosystem, so a million farms do. One cell is not significant, but millions of cells are visible in nature. In degraded environments there is additional pressure,” revealed zoologist and entomologist Félix Torres, professor at the University of Salamanca, in statements to the Spanish newspaper “El País”.
There are more than 17,000 species of bees in the world, Ornosa explained, and all are excellent pollinators of crops and wild plants. The bee introduced in this project is ‘Apis mellifera iberiensis’, a subspecies endemic to the Iberian Peninsula and part of the bee group. Which is not a good idea, emphasized Ignacy Bartomeu.
“In Spain there are a thousand species of bees, twice as many birds, and they are affected by climate change and human action. If the idea is to protect pollinators, it is wrong – it would be the same thing as taking care of birds in Spain by housing chickens,” said the CSIC researcher at the Doñana Biological Station, who nevertheless encouraged the action.
“Wild bees are endangered, but they are still around [aqui]: although their populations are declining, they may rise again. It’s a very clear sign and it’s time to act. It is important to maintain a variety of races, as each has a different genetic ‘reservoir’ which is a ‘regulator’: if a virus appears and we only have one type of bee, we would lose the whole species.”