Bees@wur works on a wide range of bee-related issues through research, information and service provision and consultancy. The focus is on bee health and bee mortality.
Bees live in an environment in which they are constantly exposed to factors that affect their health. Diseases, pesticides and food – but especially the interaction between these factors and others – are at the core of our research. Bees@wur does experimental research into how and why these factors interact.
The decline in insect pollinators may have far-reaching impacts on food security. Gallai et al. (2009, In: Ecological Economics 68, p 810-821) calculated that with the current decline in pollinators, the expected production of fruits, vegetables and luxury products (coffee, tea, tobacco) will fall below the current consumption level.
Bees are the most important group of pollinators – not only for crops, but also for wild plants. Of the main crops for human consumption, about 70% depend on pollination. The total economic value of pollination as an ecosystem service for 2005 was estimated at 152 billion euros, equivalent to 9% of the value of world agricultural production for human consumption. The demand for pollination is rising world-wide due to the increased cultivation of crops with a high production value, such as fruit. The increased cultivation of these high-value crops – together with their pollinators – is essential to supply the growing world population with sufficient vitamins and minerals.
The research on bee health focuses on the effects of inadequate food on the vitality of bee colonies, or on the side effects of exposure to pesticides on the vitality and survival of honeybee colonies. At present the emphasis is on the interactive effects between these separate factors.
Besides research, Bees@wur offers services such as diagnosis of bee diseases and information about keeping healthy bees.
Bees@wur is often asked to consult on the import of bees (related to exotic pests/diseases) or to answer questions regarding honeybees or the production of bumblebees.
Our research and information and service provision are contract-based; Bees@wur complies with the Wageningen University & Research code of conduct. To safeguard the independent position of the organisation and its employees, Wageningen University & Research has strict policies with clearly defined agreements to which every researcher adheres. For the organisation, this independent position is an essential precondition for doing its job well.