Health for humans, animals & plants

BPractices - New methods for managing peoples

In the ERA-Net project BPRACTICES new methods for colony management are identified and developed with the active participation of beekeepers.

Background

Bee diseases and bee pests are major contributors to colony losses of bees in Europe. Major pests are the Varroa mite, viruses, American foulbrood, European foulbrood and Nosema. In addition, since 2014, a new parasite of honey bees, the small hive beetle(Aethina tumida), has appeared in the EU. It is already widespread in southern Italy and endangers bee colonies in addition to the above-mentioned threats.

The project

ERA-Net SusAn BPRACTICES. New management practices for sustainable beekeeping.

The BPRACTICES project ("New indicators and measures of beekeeping practices to improve bee health in Europe in the era of Aethina tumida") is funded by the European Union through the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program and the ERA-Net SusAn - European Research Area for Sustainable Animal Production Systems, and had a duration of three years (2017-2020). The consortium is led by the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana (IZSLT) and brings together seven partner institutions (including AGES' Apiculture and Bee Conservation Department) from European and non-European countries. Consortium partners are research institutes, universities and health authorities.

The main goal of the project is to identify or develop new methods for colony management (Good Beekeeping Practices - GBP) with the active participation of beekeepers. An essential strategy is the detection of pathogens and parasites of honey bees already in the pre-clinical stage using innovative techniques (e.g. PCR from hive manure or biosensors from honey). New methods to control honey bee diseases will also be tested. The international cooperation between the different countries involved in the project and the participation of the EU Reference Laboratory for Bee Health guarantee that a wealth of experience and knowledge will be contributed. Also important is the cooperation with the International Federation of Beekeepers' Associations (Apimondia), through which the beekeepers' point of view will be strongly taken into account. Last but not least, an innovative traceability system based on QR code/RFID technology will provide consumers with details on the origin and extraction method of bee products. This is intended to create more awareness of the positive impact of beekeeping on the environment and the associated ecosystem services. Another goal is to harmonize methods. The innovative production system stimulated by the project should be applicable in any European country and include all levels of beekeeping, from the ecological aspect to economic aspects.

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