Faculty of Agrobiology and Food Resources

Meeting of the EIP-AGRI Focus Group for Beekeeping

by Jozef Polák

Doc. Ing. Robert Chlebo, PhD., from the Faculty of Agrobiology and Food Resources, participated in the first working meeting of the EIP-AGRI Focus Group for Bee health and sustainable beekeeping from 7. to 8. May 2019.

The agricultural European Innovation Partnership (EIP-AGRI) has been launched in 2012 by European Commission. At the end of 2018, call for experts in five new Focus groups was published, concerning beekeeping, poultry, medicinal plants, soil contamination and soil salinization. From the several hundred applications received, 20 members were selected for each Focus group. In the Focus Group for Bee health and sustainable beekeeping were selected representatives acting as an bee advisors, researchers and farmers from Belgium, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Germany, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy and the United Kingdom.

The main mission of EIP for Rural Development is in particular support Operational Groups and Innovation Support Services within a country or region. Number of Operational Groups within EU regions exceeded a thousand. Although the creation of Operational groups is covered by Slovak National Rural Development Programme for 2014-2020, no calls has yet been published. More information and inspiration for the EIP program can be found in Slovak language on the National Rural Development Network website (www.nsrv.sk/?pl=85) or their FB profile.

During a two-day meeting in Uppsala, Sweden, members of the Focus Group carried out following tasks:

  • identify sustainable apicultural practices and tools to cope with challenges posed by climate change and to better control pest and diseases, including harmful invasive species;
  • identify sustainable agricultural practices influencing beekeeping, including non-chemical alternatives for plant pest and disease prevention and control (i.e. preventive agronomic practices such as crop rotation and use of biological control);
  • harvest the existing knowledge on ways to monitor the effect of environmental and climatic conditions, beekeeping practices and agricultural practices on bee health and production.

After a brief country reports, several working subgroups were created to deal with specific sub-tasks (so-called mini-papers). These will be completed in the interim period to the second final meeting scheduled for the autumn of this year.

Focus Group members and Starting paper are published at the EIP-AGRI web page (https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/focus-groups/bee-health-and-sustainable-beekeeping), mini-papers from individual working groups will soon be added.

During the second meeting, proposals should be made to further direct apiculture research, covered in particular by Horizon 2020, and to define the priorities for challenges for innovative projects, such as already mentioned EIP-AGRI Operational groups.

As part of the meeting, members of the Bee Scanning (beescanning.com) project, a beekeeping related Operational group active in Sweden, presented a mobile application for evaluating diseases in bee colonies through photos of honeycombs. Participants also had the opportunity to talk about the status of a professional beekeeping in Sweden while visiting the Sigtuna Honung apiary near the Stockholm Arlanda Airport.

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