About the MUST-B project

The way that biological and chemical stressors and environmental factors interact to affect bees and contribute to population decline is still not well understood. The mechanisms are complex and the potential number of different combinations and interactions is hard to estimate. It is a scientific puzzle.

EFSA has set itself the task of trying to understand how some of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. With every new insight and connection we hope to improve our understanding the complex issue of bee decline.

The aim of this multi-annual project, therefore, is to develop a holistic approach to the risk assessment of multiple stressors in honeybees (MUST-B), with the ultimate goal of developing a software tool that can assess the combined threat posed to bee colonies in their natural environment by parasites, infectious agents, pesticides and other stressors.

MUST-B is being overseen by an EFSA Working Group made up of experts from a variety of scientific backgrounds. The work plan envisages a number of interlinked activities to be carried out either in-house or in collaboration with external specialists, researchers, data analysts and bodies such as EU Member States, the European Commission, EU sister agencies, and the European Reference Laboratory for Honeybee Health.

The starting point is to gather evidence on co-exposures and interactions and to establish exactly what constitutes a healthy honeybee colony. This question is being addressed by a working group of EFSA’s Animal Health and Welfare Panel, which is establishing a set of harmonised indicators that can be used to assess the health status of a colony. As well as providing the basis for the development of the model, the findings of this group will be used to design field survey protocols.

Work on modelling the impact of stressors and other factors on bees has been initiated by EFSA’s pesticide experts, who produced a report on the suitability of the BEEHAVE model for assessing risks from pesticides and other stressors.

Another area of focus is surveillance and monitoring. In 2008, EFSA conducted a survey on existing bee surveillance systems in the EU and, following its recommendations, the European Commission established the EU Reference Laboratory (EURL) for Honeybee Health and funded an EU wide monitoring programme on honeybee mortalities and diseases in Europe (EPILOBEE). The results of this programme showed a geographic north-south trend in mortality, but there is some uncertainty surrounding the consistency and robustness of the results. EFSA and the EURL will continue to collaborate in this and other areas related to MUST-B.

As well as projects that fall under the MUST-B umbrella, EFSA continues to carry out activities that are directly relevant to bee health, such as its risk assessments of neonicotinoid pesticides and bee pathogens. The conclusions – and data – generated by these activities will be valuable resources for the various MUST-B projects.

In 2012, EFSA set up an internal multidisciplinary task force on bees and organised a scientific colloquium entitled “Towards holistic approaches to the risk assessment of multiple stressors in bees”. The task force produced an inventory of EFSA’s work in the area of bee health and consulted a wide range of stakeholders – such as the European Commission and Member States – to identify knowledge gaps in research and to make recommendations to move towards an integrated approach to the risk assessment of bees. The MUST-B project was one of the results of this intelligence-gathering work and of the EU’s increased efforts to tackle bee decline.

Resources and Documents

Report: Developing a model for bee health risk assessment

Contains detailed information about the predictive model that will be required by EFSA to enable it to assess the impact of pesticides on honeybee colony health, in the context of multiple stressors.
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Horizon 2020 research call on bees

EU funding of up to €9 million has been made available for research proposals relevant to the MUST-B project.
More

Report: EU workshop on bee health and sustainable pollination

The workshop was held to help identify areas for possible research topics under Horizon 2020 and assist EFSA’s work on bee health.
More
MOREREPORTS

Resources and Documents

Report: Developing a model for bee health risk assessment

Contains detailed information about the predictive model that will be required by EFSA to enable it to assess the impact of pesticides on honeybee colony health, in the context of multiple stressors.
More

Horizon 2020 research call on bees

EU funding of up to €9 million has been made available for research proposals relevant to the MUST-B project.
More

Report: EU workshop on bee health and sustainable pollination

The workshop was held to help identify areas for possible research topics under Horizon 2020 and assist EFSA’s work on bee health.
More
MOREREPORTS

Meet the Must-b team

  • Angelo Maggiore
    Scientific officer at EFSA
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    David Spurgeon
    Principal Scientist in Ecotoxicology at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
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  • niroan
    Web Producer
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    Simon More
    Simon More is Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis at University College Dublin. He is also Chair of EFSA’s MUST-B Working Group.
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  • Roberta Palumbo
    Trainee in EFSA’s Assessment and Methodological Support Unit
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    Giorgio Sperandio
    Trainee in EFSA’s Scientific Committee and Emerging Risks Unit
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  • Frank Verdonck
    Officer in EFSA’s Animal Health and Welfare Unit
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    Eliana Lima
    Lima
    Trainee in Animal and Plant Health Unit.
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  • tobinr
    Head - Emerging Risks
    Head - Emerging Risks
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    Ana Afonso
    EFSA expert
    Scientific Committee and Emerging risks Unit
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  • Agnès Rortais
    Bee specialist at EFSA
    Bee specialist at EFSA
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    Simon Terry
    Communications Officer
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  • matteom
    online comms
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    sarahs
    Digital Producer / Director Agtel
    More
  • sharonm
    Multimedia specialist
    More

Meet the Must-b team

Angelo Maggiore
Scientific officer at EFSA
Read More
David Spurgeon
Principal Scientist in Ecotoxicology at the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Read More
niroan
Web Producer
Read More
Simon More
Simon More is Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Risk Analysis at University College Dublin. He is also Chair of EFSA’s MUST-B Working Group.
Read More
Roberta Palumbo
Trainee in EFSA’s Assessment and Methodological Support Unit
Read More
Giorgio Sperandio
Trainee in EFSA’s Scientific Committee and Emerging Risks Unit
Read More
Frank Verdonck
Officer in EFSA’s Animal Health and Welfare Unit
Read More
Eliana Lima
Lima
Trainee in Animal and Plant Health Unit.
Read More
tobinr
Head - Emerging Risks
Head - Emerging Risks
Read More
Ana Afonso
EFSA expert
Scientific Committee and Emerging risks Unit
Read More
Agnès Rortais
Bee specialist at EFSA
Bee specialist at EFSA
Read More
Simon Terry
Communications Officer
Read More
matteom
online comms
Read More
sarahs
Digital Producer / Director Agtel
Read More
sharonm
Multimedia specialist
Read More