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Bee Mortality and Bee Surveillance in Europe - A Report from the Assessment Methodology Unit in Response to Agence Francaise
No abstract available
Since 2003 there have been reports in Europe and America of serious losses of bees from beehives. In 2006 the term Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was first used to describe this phenomenon. CCD is characterised by the rapid loss from a colony of its adult bee population.
The “Mortality, collapse and weakening in bee hives” working group of AFSSA sought information from EFSA with relation to the following topics:
- monitoring of chemical residue levels in honey within the member states
- surveillance programmes monitoring collapse, weakening and mortality in bees active within the EU
- data on levels of honey production in the member states
In order to collate this information, a short questionnaire was distributed through the EFSA Focal Point Network. Furthermore sources of European data on honey production and chemical residue monitoring were analysed.
All member states have a monitoring programme for residues in honey as required under Directive 96/23/EC. In Directive 86/363/EEC there are no pesticide residue MRLs set for honey so residue monitoring in honey focuses on residues of veterinary medicinal products nd environmental contaminants. The following veterinary medicinal products and environmental contaminants that have also been used for plant protection have been detected at non compliant levels in honey; streptomycin, pyrethroides, organochlorine compounds and organophosphates. In September 2008 the Regulation 396/2005, which includes temporary MRLs in honey, will be applicable. Therefore, future monitoring programmes will include data on specific active substances in honey.
Five member states reported additional programmes investigating chemical residues. The UK and French surveillance programmes included laboratory testing for pesticide poisoning. The Project “Deutsches Bienenmonitoring” tests for pesticide residues in pollen, the Programa Apícola Nacional includes analysis of honey for pesticides and there is a project in The Netherlands testing for natural plant alkaloids in honey.
Responses were received from the EFSA Focal Point Network from twenty-two member states plus Norway and Switzerland. This identified seventeen bee surveillance programmes in sixteen countries. The surveillance programmes are frequently organised by national associations / federations of beekeepers. Additionally there is collaboration with the international COLOSS Network which aims to explain and prevent large scale losses of honeybee colonies.
The honey production figures provided in the questionnaires were frequently higher than those reported in FAOSTAT, EUROSTAT and national residue monitoring plans. Both the FAOSTAT and EUROSTAT datasets suffered from missing data and were not always clear regarding the data sources used to obtain the figures. When honey production figures extracted from EUROSTAT and FAOSTAT were averaged, Spain was the highest producer followed by Germany, Hungary, France, Romania Greece and Poland. A similar pattern was seen for honey production figures from the national residue monitoring plans. The data supplied in the questionnaires identified Hungary and Germany as the largest producers of honey. Luxembourg produced the smallest amount of honey. Greece reported the largest bee population (1,380,000 beehives). Analysis of the bee population figures provided by twenty-two countries for 2006-2007 estimates the bee population in Europe at greater than 8 million beehives. This estimate is conservative as data from two of the larger producers of honey Spain and Poland was not available.
In order to investigate further the phenomena of colony collapse disorder in Europe the following actions should be considered:
- Description of the study design of the surveillance programmes identified to assess the feasibility of combining data for EU level epidemiological analysis
- Collation of historical data on bee mortality rates and colony losses from the member state surveillance programmes identified in this report
- Review of reports referenced in the questionnaire and existing scientific literature on possible causes of colony collapse disorder and bee mortality
An EU-wide review of bee mortality and bee surveillance would facilitate an objective assessment of all possible causes of CCD. Additionally it would prepare the grounds and orientate research towards identified gaps in scientific knowledge.