Bees (including managed and wild bees, social and solitary bees) are subject to numerous pressures in the modern world: exposure to cocktails of agrochemicals, various pathogens, lack of abundance and diversity of feed, flowers, etc., and possibly even climate change. Stressors do not necessarily act in isolation, but often in combination, and may differ between warm and cold geographical areas. Regulations and beekeeping or agricultural practices do not currently address such interactions. Even studying the interactions poses a major challenge, due to the difficulty of testing and control in natural conditions. There are gaps in our understanding of the underlying mechanisms and how to interpret them in order to discern trends and understand the natural biology of colony health how it interacts with the stress factors. Previous and on-going EU projects have sought to shed some light in particular areas. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA[[http://www.efsa.europa.eu/]]) and the EU reference laboratory (EURL[[https://eurl-milk.anses.fr/en/minisite/abeilles/eurl-honeybee-health]]) for bee health are addressing more focused aspects of a holistic risk assessment of multiple stressors in honeybees in the MUST-B project. Nevertheless, there have been no significant breakthroughs in our ability to understand and therefore mitigate the stressors of bee health (at least not without possible detriment to other sectors), and to ensure sustainable beekeeping and/or the provision of adequate pollination services in the EU.Scope:
The research will focus on bee health and sustainable pollination, taking a transdisciplinary approach and building on and synthesising knowledge from previous EU projects, national research and existing networks, and EFSA and EURL initiatives. The projects should address the most critical obstacles to sustainable beekeeping and the provision of bee pollination services, taking account of socio-economic factors and human behaviour, in various regional EU scenarios, and propose measures to mitigate the most critical gaps/stressors/threats. It should be based on a comprehensive mapping of our current understanding, in particular including recent research. The research activities should provide as far as possible model systems for sustainable apiculture in several representative EU settings of environment and beekeeping and a better understanding of the contribution of bees to sustainable pollination for major dependent crops in the EU (with or without managed honeybees). Projects should fall under the concept of the 'multi-actor approach'[[See definition of the 'multi-actor approach' in the introduction to this Work Programme part.]]. The projects should ensure appropriate dissemination to the breeding and professional sectors and other relevant stakeholders to facilitate uptake of results.
The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of up to EUR 4.5 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude the submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.Expected Impact:
Review of the most critical gaps/stressors/threats in achieving bee health, sustainable pollination and sustainable beekeeping in different European. Contribution to the development of mitigation measures for the most critical gaps/stressors/threats. Provision of model systems for sustainable apiculture.