(Reuters) - Bulgaria will support the ban on pesticides linked to the death of bees, interim Prime Minister Marin Raikov said after a protest of bee keepers in the Balkan country on Monday.
A sharp fall in bee populations around the world, partly due to a phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder, has fuelled concerns over the impact of widespread use of pesticides, notably the neonicotinoids class.
The Balkan country had initially blocked the attempt to introduce a Europe-wide ban on three widely used pecticides, linked to the decline of bees and abstained when the ban was discussed last month in Brussels.
The European Commission is threatening to force a ban through by the summer unless member states agree a compromise.
"Bulgaria will firmly vote for the ban of these pecticides, because there is no life without bees," Raikov told about 100 bee-keepers from across the country who gathered in front of the government to demand support for the ban.
Agriculture Minister Ivan Stankov confirmed that Sofia will support the ban at the next sitting on the issue in Brussels on April 29.
The decline of honey bees in the Balkan country increased sharply last year, and in some regions in the southeast it has reached 80 to 85 percent, the government said in a statement.
It said a research from 2011 showed pesticide poisoning was among the key reasons for the bees' decline.
Syngenta and Bayer, the top producers of the pesticides blamed for a sharp fall in bee populations around the world, proposed a plan last week to support bee health to try to forestall a European Union ban.
Their plan includes the planting of more flowering margins around fields to provide bee habitats as well as monitoring to detect the neonicotinoid pesticides blamed for their decline and more research into the impact of parasites and viruses. (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by William Hardy)