Assessment of honeybee viruses in wild pollinators in Luxembourg


Wild pollinator communities are under pressure due to factors such as the loss of floral resources, intensification of agriculture and the off-target effects of pesticides. In the literature, the potential competition between commercial honey beekeeping and wild pollinators (solitary bees, bumble bees and others) is an additional challenge discussed. While for Luxembourg increasing numbers of beekeepers and apiaries are reported, no information is available on how honeybees can affect wild pollinator health in the well-established and species-rich nature protection zones (Natura 2000).


DESPOT is based on novel insights, providing a detailed understanding of the current and ongoing risk of emerging infectious disease (EID) transmission between managed and wild pollinator species in nature protection zones for a range of RNA viruses in Luxembourg.

In the framework of this project, LIST researchers will assess the prevalence of Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) Type A and Type B as well as Sacbrood Virus (SBV) in different indicator species of wild pollinators in six nature protection zones of Luxembourg. The results will be compared with viruses spread in honeybees (Apis mellifera) from apiaries surrounding these zones.

Honeybee and wild pollinator assessment will be done in close collaboration with the Fondation Faune-Flore (FFF), the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle (MNHNL) and the Fédération des Unions d'Apiculteurs du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (FUAL) between 2024 and 2026. By using the droplet digital polymerase chain reaction approach (ddPCR) in LIST laboratories, DESPOT aims to accurately detect and quantify even low abundant targets of the different pathogens.


By addressing 11 of the 21 actions from the three pillars of the “Plan national d’actions pour la préservation des insectes pollinisateurs”, the project results will support stakeholders in validating the effect of commercial beekeeping on wild pollinator health and adapting measures to optimize a balanced coexistence of apiculture and nature conservation.

In the event of effects resulting from commercial beekeeping close to nature protection zones, guidelines can be developed in close collaboration between the MECB and the Fédération des Unions d'Apiculteurs du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg (FUAL). Additionally, findings can be used in the “guides d’implantation raisonnée des ruchers” that will be developed by the FUAL to avoid negative cohabitation interactions between honeybees and wild pollinators.

Research domains
  • Environment

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