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.