Croatia region declares natural disaster after 50 million bees were poisoned

More than 50 million bees have been found poisoned in the northern county of Međimurje, which borders Hungary. As a result, County Prefect Matija Posavec declared a natural disaster for a part of Međimurje county on Monday (15 June). Veterinary inspectors and forensic scientists are looking into what caused all these deaths.

Beekeepers were shocked and devastated when they encountered a “carpet” of millions of dead bees lying on the ground on Monday (9 June) in an area between Podturn and Gardinovac near the border with Hungary.

According to the Jutarnji list daily, twenty beekeepers lost about six hundred hives, which is about 50 million bees. 

Pesticide poisoning, though not officially confirmed as yet, is suspected to be the cause of this ecological disaster.

It is probably insecticide poisoning. After the analysis, it will be known whether this is the result of spraying potatoes or rapeseed”, Ana Pepelko, a beekeeper from Gardinovac, told national television HRT.

While Željko Trupković from the Association of Beekeepers of the Međimurje County said the “damage for the ecosystem is disastrous”, the president of the Pčelinjak association (the hive association), Dražen Jerman, told HRT on Tuesday (16 June) that this was not the first “bee poisoning” case. ‘He said his association had staged a protest against the use of pesticides in front of the Association of Beekeepers a few years ago.

”But pesticides are not the only cause of damage for bees,” he said. ”Bee communities are under stress caused by climate change, and there is also the outbreak of coronavirus”. Jerman singled out the pollution of Sava river by antibiotics, among other reasons, saying these were not favourable for “ecological agriculture”.  

The Centre for Forensic Examinations, Research and Expertise “Ivan Vučetić” from Zagreb, collected samples of bees, honey, and fields to determine the exact cause of death via laboratory analysis, state news agency HINA reported.

The Public Health Institute of Međimurje County will conduct tests of honey, while the Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology of the Veterinary Faculty in Zagreb will determine the cause, to find out whether “bee deaths did not occur due to bee diseases.” An analysis of the impact on human health will also be conducted.

Međimurje County reported on Monday (15 June) that had discussed further steps with beekeepers. Representatives of the Međimurje Police and the County Agricultural Advisory Service attended the meeting and pointed out that they would provide “maximum support to beekeepers in order to repair the damage as soon as possible and protect the remaining bees”.

Beekeepers will receive €200 per damaged hive, however, the ”damage is much greater,” said Jerman. ”Just think about the importance of the bees for the pollination. The losses are immeasurable,” he added. (Karla Junicic,

Subscribe to our newsletters