Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira takes part in a research project launched in Finland to study the incidence and causes of bee mortality. In particular, information will be acquired on the role of the varroa mite and associated viral diseases in colony deaths. For the beekeepers selected into the project, it provides a unique opportunity to learn about the over-wintering and health of hives.
Research is part of EU-wide project
In the project, the mortality and health of bee colonies is monitored during the whole production year and the prevalence of the most important infectious diseases of bees in the area of EU in 2012 – 2013 will be determined.
A total of 17 EU member countries participate in the research project. In Finland, the project encompasses five dissimilar beekeeping areas, which represent the outermost regions of the EU in terms of their location and climate zone: Aland, Kajaani, Kitee, Seinäjoki, Jokioinen. The project is carried out in collaboration with other operators in beekeeping.
EU specifies promotion of bee health as its objective
The background to the project is the bee mortality reported worldwide. There is no reliable information available about the incidence rate and causes of bee deaths in the EU area. The national reference laboratories of the member countries are supervised by the EU reference laboratory for bee disease diagnostics, which was started in 2011. The Finnish reference laboratory is the Kuopio laboratory of Evira. Funding for the project and for the development of reference laboratory activities has been received from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, and EU.
Bee forum discussed bee disease status in Finland
Evira's reference laboratory arranged in Loimaa on 30 May 2012 a bee disease forum, which brought together Finnish experts in the diagnostics, research and control of bee diseases. They represented beekeepers and the Finnish Beekeepers' Association, the bee research of MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the University of Helsinki, and other operators in the sector.
A total picture was obtained in the forum of the bee disease status in Finland as well as of research and development needs in the areas of disease diagnostics, treatment and control.
The disease that causes most destruction in beekeeping in Finland is the varroa mite and associated viral diseases. The runner-up is American foulbrood, which is widespread and requires more effective control measures than those available at present. It was particularly wished that Evira should provide viral disease diagnostics services.
Topical areas that were brought up included the mandatory registration of honey bees and bumblebees, which was enforced this year, as well as the decision of the MTT Agrifood Research Finland to discontinue bee research as of the beginning of 2013.
It was unanimously concluded that national resources in this research sector must be reinforced through collaboration between operators in the sector.
For more information, please contact:
Professor Sinikka Pelkonen, Head of Research Unit
Research Unit of Veterinary Bacteriology in Kuopio
tel. +358 400 287061
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