Healthy discussion in Brussels

by Eliana Lima 08.04.16

EFSA scientists will be heading to Brussels next week for a workshop with scientists and representatives of industry and NGOs involved in bee health. The aim of the meeting is to canvass and discuss the views of bee experts on the work done so far by EFSA under the HEALTHY-B project.

HEALTHY-B was set up to fill a significant gap: the lack of a harmonised and robust framework for collecting data on the multiple factors that can affect the health of honeybees. Such a framework will be an essential part of EFSA’s overarching MUST-B project on the risk assessment of multiple stressors in bees.

Assessing colony health is a complex task because landscape, weather, pathogens and pests, pesticides, beekeeping practices, colony demography and behaviour, and colony outputs must all be taken into account. The collection of harmonised field data across Europe on these multiple factors would enable risk assessors to carry out a more holistic characterisation of bee health, to compare the health status of colonies across regions and time, and to gain clearer insights into the dynamics of stressors that have an impact on colony health.

Over the past months, the HEALTHY-B working group has identified the general traits of a healthy colony, discussed their relevance and feasibility to be assessed in field conditions and, finally, assessed the availability of methods and tools for measuring the factors considered to be of high biological relevance. In Brussels, EFSA’s experts will share this work and take on board the practical experiences of stakeholders as well as any scientific evidence not yet taken into account.

The working group will meet representatives from national governmental organisations, NGOs, industry groups, academia, national reference laboratories, beekeeping organisations, and other bodies involved in bee health. During the meeting, stakeholders will have the opportunity to discuss, comment on and suggest improvements to EFSA’s work.

It’s an important opportunity for EFSA to fine-tune and improve the framework, which is going to be fundamental to our future work on bee health.

The conclusions of the workshop will be published on the EFSA website.

Eliana Lima is a trainee in EFSA’s Animal and Plant Health Unit.

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Comments

Too much money is being spent on looking into the possible affects of pesticides. Look at the bottom line and ask yourself these questions: Why are there not large scale colony losses in Australia where neonicotinoids are widely used? Why was there no improvement in bee health in France after Gaucho was banned there? Why was there no difference in colony losses in France between areas where neonicotinoids were used and those where they were not? Why did the largest commercial beekeeper in Scotland actively seek out oilseed rape for forage and yet have below average colony losses? Why, when I controlled Varroa effectively, did I have some of the most productive years ever with my bees after neonicotinoids were widely used in my area? If neonicotinoids were killing bees on the scale claimed would there not be less managed colonies in the areas where they are used and not more?
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Retired professional beekeeper (60yrs)

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