Research on bee health

22 February 2013    

Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR)


In view of the decline in the bee population, what research funds are still available to enable more progress to be made in identifying the causes of the decline and in developing remedies? How should application for such funding best be made at this stage?

What steps are being taken, including realistic field trials, to ensure that unnecessary or premature action is not taken by the Commission on the basis of poor evidence?. I have in mind suggestions that have been made to ban pesticides such as neonicotinoids, the effect of which may be devastating for our farmers, with few significant benefits for bees. What is the current status of these suggestions, and what steps does the Commission now expect to take?

Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

8 April 2013  

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to written questions E‐000450/2013(1) and E-000875/2013(1). The Commission draft implementing measures was discussed and put forward for a vote at the Standing Committee on the Food chain and Animal Health on 15 March 2013. The Committee did not deliver an opinion. Therefore, the Commission is considering the next steps and the possibility to refer the draft implementing act to the appeal committee for further deliberation.

Research on bee health has received considerable attention during the 7th Framework programme with a total budget reaching EUR 15 million. In particular the Bee Doc project(2) is quantifying the impact of the interactions between parasites, pathogens and pesticides on honeybee mortality. They address sublethal and chronic exposure to pesticides both at the colony and at the individual level. The STEP project(3) is looking at the nature and extent of declines in both wild and domesticated pollinators. The COLOSS(4) COST action is a network of researchers and stakeholders following the evolution of colony losses and joining forces of participants in national research programmes. A last research proposal will be funded this year to tackle another major threat for bee, the varroa mite, in order to reduce the pressure of this parasite on honeybee health.

Also, the Single CMO Regulation(5) provides EU financial support for cooperation with specialised bodies for the implementation of applied research programmes related to beekeeping in the frame of the national apiculture programmes put in place by the Member States. Member States have to submit their national apiculture programmes for the next three years by 15 April 2013.