On 21 May 2014, an international group of researchers, including scientists from Wageningen UR, published an extensive literature review with the aim of providing the basis for a renewed debate on the causes of the sharp increase in winter mortality of honeybee colonies and the decline of wild bee populations. The study was coordinated by the University of Oxford.
The study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, systematically reviewed all the available literature on these topics. The researchers divided the literature into four categories to clarify which studies can be considered proven and which information should still be substantiated.
The categories are:
- A strong evidence base involving experimental studies or field data collection, with appropriate detailed statistical or other quantitative analysis
- Consensus of expert opinion extrapolating results from related ecological systems and well-established ecological principles
- Some supporting evidence, but further work would improve the evidence base substantially
- Projections based on the available evidence for which substantial uncertainty often exists that could affect outcomes
The publication, which is also the cover story of Proceedings of the Royal Society B, is an open source publication: the full text of the article is available for free. In this way, the researchers want to make the study as widely accessible as possible.