World’s first pan-European and UK bee research to start

World’s first pan-European and UK bee research to start
Researchers will study bees in Europe and around the globe, many threats and are in decline.

A professor at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK, will be leading a world-first study into the effects of agrochemicals on bees across the UK and Europe.

The first pan-European and UK bee research has received a grant of €9m. The research consortium, POSHBEE, led by Mark Brown, Professor in Evolutionary Ecology and Conservation at the Royal Holloway University of London, will study bees in Europe and around the globe, many threats and are in decline.

The bee research will include:

  • Honey bees;
  • Bumble bees; and
  • Solitary bees.

Human activity is having a substantial impact on the natural world. The United Nations’ Climate Panel have previously announced that they were 95% certain that humans are the ‘dominant cause’ of global warming since the 1950s. Alongside this, it is widely held that climate change is just one of the threats for bee populations around the world, as warmer and drier conditions cause extinctions and also drive populations of both plants and insects north.

What will the bee research focus on?

The study will incorporate the knowledge and experience of local beekeeping, farming organisations and academic researchers, the research will provide the first comprehensive pan-European assessment of the exposure hazard of chemicals.

It will take a specific look at the mix of chemicals that bees are exposed to, as well as their co-occurrence with pathogens and nutritional stress for certain types of bees across two major cropping systems.

Brown said: “I’m very excited to be leading this new study, especially as it will examine many species of bee, from our well-known social honey bees to much less well-known, but equally vital solitary bees.

“With 42 partners working on POSHBEE across the UK and Europe, and with the help of experts from science to bee keepers and farmers, we aim to make ground-breaking findings and start to work on ways to keep bees healthy.”

He concluded: “We hope that by the end of the five-year study we will have a good understanding of the threats that bees face, as well as a range of advice and tools for policymakers and practical bee keepers and conservation organisations that will keep our bees healthy into the future.

“After all, they are our best pollinators and are essential for our human well-being.”

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