Bees get death-by-pesticide funeral in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - Bee keepers and environmental activists staged a mock funeral in Paris on Thursday for bees, to protest against the pesticides they say are killing insects crucial for the eco-system.

Some protesters, wearing beekepers masks and overalls, lay motionless in coffins while others stood, heads bowed in respect as a bugle played during the ceremony on a patch of garden near the Les Invalides museum.

Green campaigners say bee colonies in western Europe have been ravaged by the use of neonicotinoids, a group of pesticides based on the chemical structure of nicotine.

Bee keepers in France have pressed the government to take more action to protect their livelihoods.

"It's been talked about for 20 years now but nothing's been done about it," said one campaigner.

"There's going to be a big blowout and in the very short term," said another, both dressed in white beekeeper suits.

An EU court upheld on Thursday a partial ban on three neonicotinoids, saying the European Commission had been right in 2013 to restrict their use to protect bees. The restriction means they cannot be used on maize, rapeseed and some spring cereals.

Crop chemical companies have argued that real-world evidence is not there to blame a global plunge in bee numbers on neonicotinoid pesticides alone.

The ceremony came days after lawmakers failed to secure the inclusion of a ban on the use of glysophate -- widely used in weedkillers - in new legislation even after President Emmanuel Macron promised its prohibition in three years time.

(Reporting by Lucien Libert; Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Richard Lough and Robin Pomeroy)

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