Future of Honey Bees

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Changed on: 17.05.2019

The research project "Future of Honey Bees" investigated bee health in Austria and the influence of agricultural production, beekeeping and weather conditions on colony and bee losses. Beekeepers were intensively involved in order to be able to work on questions of practical relevance for beekeeping and agriculture and to derive conclusions and measures from the results. The main focus of AGES work was on land use and winter losses, research into the causes of colony and bee losses (surveillance study, suspected cases of poisoning) as well as the diversity of pollen source (pollen analyses).

>> Project page Future of Honey Bees and final report Future of Honey Bees 

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The research project "Future of Honey Bees" investigated bee health in Austria and the influence of agricultural production, beekeeping and weather conditions on colony and bee losses. Beekeepers were intensively involved in order to be able to work on questions of practical relevance for beekeeping and agriculture and to derive conclusions and measures from the results. The main focus of AGES work was on land use and winter losses, research into the causes of colony and bee losses (surveillance study, suspected cases of poisoning) as well as the diversity of pollen source (pollen analyses).

>> Project page Future of Honey Bees and final report Future of Honey Bees 

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Winter Losses

In Austria, the winter loss rates of honey bee colonies have been recorded since 2008. By including the data of many beekeepers, this study is the largest of its kind worldwide. The data will be used to develop a publicly accessible risk analysis database. Particular attention will be paid to the influence of Varroa treatment methods on winter mortality.

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Surveillance Study

Around 190 apiaries distributed throughout Austria were accompanied for one year. Bee diseases and parasites were investigated and colony losses were recorded during hibernation in 2015/16. In addition to the level of Varroa infestation, the experience of the beekeeper, the age of the queen and the strength of the population in autumn are among the most important success factors.

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Land Use

Against the background of varying winter loss rates of bee colonies in different areas of Austria, the relationship between winter losses and the type of land use was investigated. Complex model calculations showed a correlation with climatic conditions. With the results, however, it is not possible to predict expected winter losses on the basis of short-term climate observations.

 

 

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Pollen sources

Food supply is one of the most important factors for bee health and population development. Honey bees and wild bees need pollen to supply them with protein and fat, which they collect in the flight circle from the plants growing there. Pollen, however, is of different quality. For Austria, pollen sources and their diversity used by bees seasonally and regionally were investigated for the first time.

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Suspicion of Poisoning

Honey bees can come into contact with various chemical substances inside and outside the hive. These may result from the use of veterinary medicines, plant protection products or biocides, but may also originate from previously authorised applications, the traces of which are still detectable in the environment today. Reported bee damages and colony losses with suspicion of poisoning were clarified by residue investigations.

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Future for Honey Bees 2 - Virus Monitoring

Which are the most common bee viruses in Austria and are these viruses associated with high winter losses of native honey bee colonies? To answer these questions, 200 beekeepers from all over Austria are working as "Citizen Scientists" on the Future Bee Follow-Up Project. In addition to an overview of the virus situation, an improved and cost-effective virus diagnosis will be developed and important questions, including the economic significance of winter losses, will be scientifically addressed.

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