Forests still pine for solution to honey bug

A government-backed scheme aimed at relieving Attica’s pine trees of a lethal sap-sucking insect – which are known to have boosted the country’s honey output – is to be terminated after experts deemed that the pesticides being used could be causing more harm than good. In May, the Agriculture Ministry approved the use of insect repellent on pines in Melissia, Kifissia, Nea Erythraia and Aghios Stefanos to eradicate their infestation by the pest. But pine forests across Attica continue to bear evidence of the distinctive white fluff secreted by the Marchalina hellenica and which constitutes an important food source for bees. Scientists who spearheaded the anti-infestation project warned that the chemical was apparently ineffective but «could also have a negative impact on beekeeping and pose a threat to ecological balance.» Furthermore, use of the chemical in residential areas leaves traces in the atmosphere. «The only solution is for there to be no more intentional infestations of pine forests and for a treatment to be found that does not interfere with ecological processes,» a project member said.