Terms of reference for an EU Bee Partnership
Managed and wild bees provide essential ecosystem services by pollinating crops and wild plants. Losses of managed honey bee colonies as well as the decline of many wild bee species in the EU and elsewhere have raised considerable concern about bee health amongst stakeholders, including the general public. As part of the European Parliament's Week of Bees and Pollination 2017, there was a general agreement that an EU Bee Partnership Discussion Group (DG) should be established, with the vision of ‘a Platform run by stakeholders for the benefit of society to ensure that bees in the EU can thrive and prosper’. Subsequently, an EU Bee Partnership was identified as one of the targeted platforms established by EFSA, under the Stakeholder Engagement Approach. This document describes the terms of reference developed by and for this EU Bee Partnership DG. The objective of the EU Bee Partnership is to improve data collection, management, sharing and communications to achieve a holistic approach to the assessment of bee health in Europe and beyond. It will consider honey bees, with the potential for subsequent expansion to include bumble bees and solitary bees. Six broad themes of potential work were identified, including an inventory of data on the health of honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees. During the first 12 months, the Partnership will focus on one or more of these six themes, using a ‘proof of concept’ approach. Details of stakeholders and observers are presented, including roles and responsibilities. The DG identified the need for both short‐ and long‐term funding. A phased approach to funding is proposed, but with clear recommendations that long‐term resources are needed. Critical success factors were defined. Several risk and risk mitigation strategies were identified, relating to funding, confidentiality, time, resource and project coordination and stakeholder motivation.