BPractices: New methods for peoples management


The objectives of the international cooperation within the BPRACTICES project were to safeguard the bee population and to maintain the quality and safety of bee products. The focus was on the development of innovative and bee-friendly methods that are simple, effective and gentle to bees. New clinical diagnostic methods, biotechnological applications and innovative biomolecular techniques were applied.

Project description

Good beekeeping practices, disease prevention, diagnosis and control contribute to meet current and future challenges in an appropriate way. The objectives of the BPRACTICES project were to safeguard the bee population and maintain the quality and safety of bee products. In addition, innovative and bee-friendly methods were developed. New clinical diagnostic methods, biotechnical applications and innovative biomolecular techniques were applied in the project. In addition, best practices for colony management ("good beekeeping practices"), disease prevention, diagnosis and control were identified and harmonized internationally.

Colony losses in honey bees are not least favoured by bee diseases. Important diseases and parasites are: Varroa mite, American foulbrood, European foulbrood and nosemosis. The situation could be further worsened by the appearance of the small hive beetle (SHB, Aethina tumida). In Europe, there has been an occurrence in southern Italy (Calabria) since September 2014, which has not been eradicated to date. The beetles and larvae eat bee brood, honey and pollen. As a result, the honey stores present in the colony spoil and the honeycomb structure is destroyed. In case of heavy infestation, the colonies perish. Within the framework of the project, we established a molecular biological diagnostic method (PCR) for the detection of the small hive beetle - in accordance with our function as a national reference laboratory for bee diseases. Based on this method, PCR-based monitoring of the small hive beetle was carried out on manure samples over a period of three years. Our other research activities focused on predictive monitoring of bee diseases from manure, monitoring of small hive beetle incidence by PCR analysis, innovative approaches to Varroa mite control, and organization of and participation in laboratory intercomparison tests.

A key element was the involvement of beekeepers in a "Citizen Scientists" approach to ensure practical relevance. Practical tests on American and European foulbrood and on the varroa mite were carried out with voluntary participation. Among other things, manure samples from all Austrian provinces were sent in and examined for the small hive beetle. The result showed that the beetle was not detectable in any of the 172 composite samples sent in - neither in the form of visible beetles, beetle parts or larvae nor in the form of DNA of the small hive beetle. This result was consistent with official data showing no infestation in Austria. In addition, 194 official bee experts from all provinces were trained in detail regarding biology and diagnostic characteristics of the small hive beetle and areas with increased risk of introduction were identified.

The use of innovative methods suggests lower costs for outbreak detection. Particularly noteworthy is the establishment of international cooperation, not least with the EU reference laboratory for bee health. The project also thought about consumers and tested a traceability system ("From the hive to the jar") as a novelty. The traceability of bee products throughout the entire production and marketing chain is increasingly a purchasing criterion, as is the ecological added value that results from buying regional products with appropriately certified origin.

Benefit of the project

Healthy and productive honey bees are the most important prerequisite for successful beekeeping, for obtaining high-quality bee products and for ensuring the pollination of cultivated and wild plants. The identification and implementation of Good Beekeeping Practices (GBP) and preventive measures to avoid disease outbreaks (Biosecurity measures in Beekeeping; BMB) are important elements in keeping the bee population healthy. Timely detection of pathogens and parasites using innovative methods can also prevent major damage. This is particularly true for notifiable diseases such as American foulbrood and infestation with the small hive beetle.

Project details

Project acronym: BPractices

Project Management: Giovanni Formato, Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana "M. Aleandri", Rome, Italy

Project management AGES and work package leader work package 2: American foulbrood: DI Dr. Alexandra Ribarits

Project partners: University of Namik Kemal (Turkey), Agricultural Institute of Slovenia (Slovenia), Centro de Investigación Apícola y Agroambiental de Marchamalo (Spain), Mississippi State University (USA), Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (Italy)

Funding: The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Regions and Water Management, BML (formerly Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism, BMLRT) under the EU research and innovation funding program Horizon 2020, Grant Agreement No. 696231 [SusAn].

Project duration: 02/2017 until 11/2020


Pietropaoli, M., Ribarits, A., Moosbeckhofer, R., Köglberger, H., Alber, O., Gregorc, A., Smodis Skerl, M.I., Presern, J., Bubnic, J., Muz, M.N., Higes, M., Tiozzo, B., Jannoni-Sebastianini, F., Lubroth, J., Cazier, J., Raizman, E., Zilli, R., Bagni, M., Della Marta, U., Formato, G., 2021. Biosecurity measures in European beekeeping. Scientific and Technical Review of the OIE, 39 (3).

Pietropaoli, M., Smodis Skerl, M., Cazier, J., Riviere, M.-P., Tiozzo, B., Eggenhoeffner, R., Gregorc, A., Haefeker, W., Higes, M., Ribarits, A., Muz, M.N., Vejsnæs, F., Formato, G., 2020. BPRACTICES Project: Towards a Sustainable European Beekeeping. Bee World; 97 (3): 66-69; doi: 10.1080/0005772X.2020.1757220

Ribarits, A., Köglberger, H., Gottsberger, R., Griesbacher, A., Mayr, J., Etter, K., Alber, O., Derakhshifar, I., Morawetz, L., Moosbeckhofer, R., 2020. Maßnahmen der imkerlichen Praxis zur Verbesserung der Bienengesundheit in Europa. BPRACTICES, ERA-NET Cofund SusAn. Abschlussbericht zum Forschungsprojekt Nummer 101232. 1. Aufl. S. 1-116.

Rivera-Gomis, J., Bubnic, J., Ribarits, A., Moosbeckhofer, R., Alber, O., Kozmus, P., Jannoni-Sebastianini, R., Haefeker, W., Köglberger, H., Smodis Skerl, M.I., Tiozzo, B., Pietropaoli, M., Lubroth, J., Raizman, E., Lietaer, C., Zilli, R., Eggenhoeffner, R., Higes, M., Muz, M.N., D’Ascenzi, C., Riviere, M.P., Gregorc, A., Cazier, J., Hassler, E., Wilkes, J., Formato, G., 2019. Good farming practices in apiculture. Rev Sci Tech. 2019 Dec;38(3):879-890. doi: 10.20506/rst.38.3.3032

Rivera-Gomis, J., Bubnic, J., Cersini, A., Chabert, M., Chauzat, M.P., Eggenhoeffner, R., Erat, S., Gregorc, A., Haefeker, W., Higes, M., Jannoni-Sebastianini, R., Lietaer, C., McCabe, P., Moosbeckhofer, R., Muz, D., Necati Muz, M., Ozdemir, N., Pietropaoli, M., Ravarotto, L., Ribarits, A., Riviere, M.P., Smodis Skerl, M.I., Søgaard Jørgensen, A., Formato, G., 2018. Good Beekeeping Practices (GBPs) and disease prevention. In Apimondia. Working for the benefit of bees and apiculture, released within the framework of the first World Bee Day.

Rivera-Gomis, J., Bubnic, J., Ribarits, A., Moosbeckhofer, R., Kozmus, P., Jannoni-Sebastianini, R., Haefeker, W., Koeglberger, H., Smodis Skerl, M. I., Tiozzo, B., Pietropaoli, M., Lubroth, J., Zilli, R, Eggenhoeffner, R., Higes, M., Muz, M. N., D’Ascenzi, C., Riviere, M. P., Chauzat, M. P., Gregorc, A., Formato, G., 2019. Biosecurity Measures in Beekeeping. Proceedings, Rome, Italy, Honey Bee Health Symposium 2019 „New Approaches to Honey Bee Health“, p.76-77.

Last updated: 02.10.2023

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