German project – FIT BEE
About FIT BEE
There has been a dramatic decrease in the number of bee colonies in Germany over more than the last two decades; in addition, periodical total losses of apiaries have been recorded (DIB, DeBiMo end-of-year reports). It is assumed that environmental parameters like climate and food availability as well as bee diseases have had an important role in explaining these losses because they have a greater impact on the health and vitality of honey bees than on other forms of livestock, which may be kept under more controlled conditions and under greater surveillance.
The healthy, vital bee colony (‘FIT BEE’) is the central focus of this joint project. The project’s component modules aim – within the context of an integrated network – at understanding more deeply the complex interactions between the individual bee, the bee colony, bee diseases and environmental parameters. The project thereby aims to define conditions for a healthy bee colony and to improve them by specific measures.
Influence of and interaction between different factors impacting the health of the bee colony. The environment, the apiary and individual bee health influence the vitality of the bee colony directly (red arrows).
- ‘FIT BEE’
The vital bee colony is the central focus of this joint project. The vitality of the bee colony as a ‘superorganism’ is determined by three main factors: environment, conditions at the apiary and the single bees’ vitality.
Environmental conditions affect the bee colony directly via the climate (temperature, humidity), but also in an indirect manner via the influence of bee diseases and the individual bee’s nutrition, including the intake by the bee and the colony of sublethal quantities of crop protection products applied to crops.
- Individual bee
The individual bee’s health, which is multifactorially influenced by bee diseases and environmental factors, significantly impacts the vitality of the bee colony.
The number of colonies at an apiary and the bee density affect the spread of diseases and therewith the vitality of the separate bee colonies too. Poor health status of individual bees may intensify these effects because some bees return to the wrong hive.
Varroosis and Nosemosis, two most important bee diseases, have a significant influence on an individual bee’s vitality and therefore on the population dynamics of the whole bee colony.