LIST’s BeeFirst project: presentation of the latest results

Published on 28/08/2017

On 22 August 2017, the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) took part in a press conference on the subject of Bee Health, organized by the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture, Viticulture, and Consumer Protection, at an apiary owned by professional beekeeper and honey bee breeder Paul Jungels in Brandenbourg (LU).

BeeFirst, or monitoring bee colonies

This was an opportunity for our specialist environmental researcher, Marco Beyer, to present the latest results of the BeeFirst research project. The BeeFirst project was launched in 2011 with the aim of identifying factors that are linked with honey bee colony losses in Luxembourg. 

Details about the press conference

Fernand Etgen opened the press conference with an introductory statement on the current state of bee health: bees are affected by the varroa mite, the use of pesticides, and the loss of their habitat and food sources. He underlined the importance of bees and their great value, both economically and ecologically speaking.

To decrease bee mortality, the Agriculture Ministry is funding two research projects, which were outlined during the event: the LIST BeeFirst project, presented by Marco Beyer, and the Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH) project presented by Paul Jungels.

During his presentation, Marco highlighted which residues from pesticides used in agriculture and beekeeping were found in pollen collected by bees as well as their relationship with bee health. The active substances metazachlor and thiacloprid, two key substances in rapeseed cultivation, had a negative impact. 

The Agriculture Ministry is introducing a precautionary measure

As a precautionary measure, the Agriculture Ministry has announced measures to better protect bees from exposure to thiacloprid. This compound  will no longer be classified as being harmless to honey bees and its use will be subject to stricter regulations. Restrictions on metazachlor have already been implemented as a result of concerns about clean drinking water in 2015.

After this, Minister Etgen handed over to Paul Jungels, who introduced the innovative VSH project, which aims at selecting bees that are resistant to a varroa mites. European bees are not well-adapted to this parasite, which was introduced from Asia in the 1980s. Beekeepers currently have to treat their bees with chemicals to protect them from the mites. Discussions during the press conference were constructive and positive, and concluded with the Ministry pledging to continue funding both the LIST BeeFirst project and Paul Jungels's VSH project. 

> Read the full version in German on the Ministry's website. Read also related articles on, and

> For further scientific information, read the scientific publication „Correlations between land covers and hony bee colony losses in a country with industrialized and rural regions“ written by A. Clermont, M. Eickermann, F. Kraus, L. Hoffmann, M. Beyer. 

> Contact Marco Beyer for any further request on this topic.

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