European Commission taking the lead to protect bees

Tuesday 08 April 2014

European Commission bee health

Press Release, 08.04.2014 - The Bee Health conference, organised by the Commission on 7 April 2014 (1) (1a) brought together a huge number of people in Brussels interested in bee health. The stakeholders, beekeepers, farmers, scientists, chemical-industry and environmental associations, had the opportunity to keep informed on the Commission work on bees. The actions presented were linked to veterinary practices and products, pesticides, beekeeping, environment and agriculture (2).

The results of EPILOBEE (3), a harmonized monitoring on honeybee mortality, were presented at the conference. The study covers about 32 000 colonies across 17 Member States (between autumn 2012 and summer 2013). Winter colony mortality rates ranged from 3.5% to 33.6% with huge variability among countries and higher mortality in Northern Europe. Bee Life finds unfortunate the fact that only pathogens are considered in the monitoring. Pesticides and botanic resources could be easily integrated to provide a more complete picture of stressing factors leading to colony mortality. Today, this monitoring clearly demonstrates that in most of the case pathologies (varroosis, nosemosis, American foulbrood) cannot explain the mortality of bees.

The EFSA has identified duplicates and gaps in bee research. The gaps highlighted are mainly linked to bee toxicology. Therefore, the EU food safety authority pointed the need of coordinated and efficient research in the EU. Bee Life sees urgent need to invest on research on effects of chemicals on colony bee health and on the ring testing of methods for pesticide risk assessment. Bee Life raises awareness on the necessity for the EU authorities to take actions based on independent research and to keep critical regarding the development of industry-funded research.

DG AGRI acknowledged the role of pollinators for the sustainability of European agriculture. Their policy vision for the future aims to create an agricultural model in harmony with bees. Given the field reality of beekeepers today, Bee Life can just support such idea and asks the Commission to keep ambitious and determined in their future actions. This is a political decision to be taken regarding a choice of society.

Twitter: #EU4Bees