Honey bees are besides pigs and cattle the most important livestock. Together with wild bees they contribute to pollination, an ecosystem service with a global estimated value of 153 × 109 US $. High winter colony losses were recently reported for managed honey bees from Canada, China, Europe, Israel, Turkey and the United States of America, raising concerns that a global pollinator decline could be going on.
Many high-value crops depend on pollination for producing fruit. A decline of pollinators would have consequences that are very difficult to anticipate. Particularly in developed countries, a consensus among decision takers, scientists and beekeepers emerges, that is it too risky not to take action against declining pollinator populations. Accordingly, several countries including the United States of America, the United Kingdom and France are developing national strategies for preserving pollinators.
The project will result in enhanced management practices for minimising winter losses in managed honey bee colonies across Luxembourg in collaboration with the relevant administrations and beekeeper associations.
The project will furthermore allow enhancing the recommendations of the Sentinelle project on how to minimise the risks for honey bees when protecting crops from insects that must be considered as pests.
The BeeFirst project will result in enhanced management practices for reducing honey bee colony losses over winter with means that are available to beekeepers and landscape architects. BeeFirst will also result in building blocks for the implementation of European and national programs focused on reducing the risks of pesticide use. Sets of new management practices that help safeguarding or improving the quality of apicultural products will be developed.
Publications on locally interesting findings and techniques in applied journals and publications on generally interesting findings and techniques in international journals will contribute to share the BeeFirst experience.
Beyer M, Junk J, Eickermann M, Clermont A, Kraus F, Georges C, Reichart A, Hoffmann L (2018): Winter honey bee colony losses, Varroa destructor control strategies, and the role of weather conditions: Results from a survey among beekeepers. Research in Veterinary Science 118: 52-60.
Clermont A., Eickermann M, Kraus F, Hoffmann L, Beyer M (2015): Correlations between land covers and honey bee colony losses in a country with industrialized and rural regions. Science of the Total Environment 562: 1-13.
Clermont A, Pasquali M, Eickermann M, Kraus F, Hoffmann L, Beyer M (2015): Virus status, varroa levels and survival of 20 managed honey bee colonies monitored in Luxembourg between summer 2011 and spring 2013. Journal of Apicultural Science 59: 59-73.
Clermont A, Eickermann M, Kraus F, Georges C, Hoffmann L, Beyer M (2014): A survey on some factors potentially affecting losses of managed honeybee colonies in Luxembourg over the winters 2010/2011 and 2011/2012. Journal of Apicultural Research 53: 43-56.