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Research supporting resilient beekeeping set to commence

Published on: 8 September 2023

Supporting bee health in the face of climate change is the focus of an international project involving Newcastle University experts.

The BeeGuards consortium has been funded to provide sustainable management practices, novel breeding strategies, and digital and forecasting tools that will allow the beekeeping sector to adapt to a changing environment.

BeeGuards will conduct studies in 11 countries in Europe and beyond, applying innovative threshold-based management practices, using hives equipped with digital sensors. It will support the work of beekeepers by providing guidelines for the adaptation of beekeeping practices to present and future challenges. BeeGuards will carry out complementary immunological, behavioural, pathological, genomic and ecological studies to explore how management, climate and environment act on honey bees and other pollinators.

The consortium is coordinated by Dr Cecilia Costa from the Italian Agricultural research Council (CREA). Starting in October 2023, the project brings together 27 partners, including scientists, beekeepers and beekeeping associations, consulting and technology companies from 16 countries. It was selected as one of two research projects for the “Resilient beekeeping” call funded under the Horizon Europe framework (HORIZON-CL6-2022-BIODIV-02).

Beekeepers, farmers and citizens will be involved via a WikiBeedia, as well as by citizen-science and carbon footprint studies, to ensure that research findings are directly translated into good practices for end users.

The Modelling Evidence and Policy Research Team at Newcastle University is a major partner of the project. Professors Giles Budge and Stephen Rushton, alongside a new postdoctoral researcher, will lead a strand of the project called ‘Understanding climate as a driver of Parasites & Pathogens and mitigating their impact’.

Professor Budge, of Newcastle University’s School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, said: “We are excited to be working with some brilliant European partners to better understand how the honey bee might cope in our changing climate. In particular, we are interested in better understanding how climate change across Europe might impact the spread of invasive pests and endemic diseases that impact these important pollinators.”

Adapted with thanks from Horizon Europe.

European honey bee

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