pan-european assessment, monitoring, and mitigation of stressors on the health of bees

The Project

PoshBee aims to support healthy bee populations, sustainable beekeeping and pollination across Europe. Integrating the knowledge and experience of academics, beekeepers and farmers, PoshBee will:

  • provide the first pan-European quantification of the exposure hazard of chemicals to managed and wild bees;
  • determine how chemicals alone, in mixtures, and in combination with pathogens and nutrition, affect bee health, and;
  • meet the need for monitoring tools, novel screening protocols, and practice- and policy-relevant research outputs to local, national, European, and global stakeholders.

Objectives and expected outcomes

 

  1. Measure hazard: drawing on the expertise of a diverse range of actors, PoshBee will quantify the exposure of honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees to chemicals within major agricultural cropping systems across Europe.
    • This will fill a major knowledge gap in the exposure hazard of chemicals for bees.
  2. Assess toxicity: through the development of innovative protocols and novel model systems, co-created with end-user partners, we will assess toxicity and dynamics of key agrochemicals, and their mixtures, in honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees.
    • This will provide key information for the development of improved policy and regulations for the safe and sustainable use of agrochemicals in Europe.
  3. Estimate health effects: taking a trans-disciplinary approach, we will integrate laboratory, semi-field, field, and landscape studies to provide a holistic understanding of how chemicals, their mixtures, and their interactions with pathogens and nutrition drive health in honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees.
    • This will help beekeepers and other stakeholders improve bee health management, and fill a major knowledge gap on how hazards interact to threaten bee health.
  4. Develop a bee health model: within PoshBee we will develop the first mechanistically-underpinned holistic model of bee health.
    • This will validate and develop agent-based, landscape-explicit models for risk assessment in honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees, building on current MUST-B approaches and working with MUST-B.
  5. Monitor tools and protocols: we will provide validated tools for the monitoring and assessment of bee health and exposure to stressors.
    • This will result in a novel molecular monitoring tool, or ‘health card’ for bees, that measures chemical exposure, pathogens, immune capacities, and nutritional state.
  6. Drive policy and practice: working together with key stakeholders in the honey bee, agrochemical, farming, pollination service, research, EU policy and regulatory, and bee conservation sectors alike, we will develop a European bee health knowledge exchange hub.
    • This will help us synthesize and disseminate our research findings to improve knowledge exchange, and develop best practice protocols, tools, training resources, and policy support for stakeholders across Europe, thereby promoting sustainable beekeeping, bee health, and pollination services.

Structure

-WP1: A site network for assessing exposure of bees to chemical, nutritional, and pathogen stressors

Lead: Trinity College Dublin (TCD)

Work package 1 will establish and implement a site network across eight countries incorporating Europe’s main biogeographic zones and range of honey bee subspecies.

The goal is to quantify and identify drivers of agrochemical exposure in solitary bees, bumble bees, and honey bees, their interactions with pathogens, parasites and nutritional status, and their combined effects on bee health in the main European biogeographic zones.

+WP2: Measuring chemical exposure, pathogens, and poor nutrition in honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees

Lead: Agency for food, environmental and occupational health & safety (ANSES)

Work package 2 will screen samples from the site network (WP1) to develop a database of bee exposure to agrochemicals, pathogens, and nutritional stress.

The objective is to understand bee chemical exposure in key crops across the EU, and quantify direct, synergistic and antagonistic effects of multiple stressors at population and colony levels.

+WP3: Toxicokinetics, toxicodynamics and interactions among agrochemicals

Lead: Eesti Maaülikool (EMÜ)

Work package 3 will determine the dose-response relationships of three classes of agrochemical in three model bee species, including four honey bee subspecies.

The aim is to evaluate toxicodynamics of agrochemicals on three model bee species in the laboratory (chronic and sublethal effects), as well as synergies among classes of agrochemical in their effects on bees

+WP4: Development of novel wild bee species for risk assessment

Lead: Martin Luther University Halle (MLU)

Work package 4 will develop a representative model for wild bee species to be used in chemical risk assessment in the laboratory, and establish chemical dose-response relationships across these wild bee species in the laboratory

The goal is to test impacts of key chemical stressors on these novel and representative wild bee species.

+WP5: Effects of agrochemical-nutrition interactions on bee health in the laboratory

Lead: Université de Mons (UMONS)

Work package 5 will develop protocols for assessing nutritional stress for three model bee species.

The idea is to study the effect of pollen diversity, quality and quantity on the development and survival of bees during chronic and acute agrochemical exposure, as well the effect of chronic and acute agrochemical exposure on nutritional intake in our three model bee species

+WP6: Effects of agrochemical-pathogen interactions on bee health in the laboratory

Lead: Universität Bern (BERN)

Work package 6 is responsible for determining the effects of agrochemical-pathogen interactions on three model bee species across life stages (larvae/pupae/adults), sexes (males/females) and castes (queens/workers), as well as for estimating how individual-level effects scale up to colony-level effects among bumble bees.

The aim is to determine how and when agrochemical-pathogen interactions are likely to impact honey bees, bumble bees, and solitary bees.

+WP7: Effects of chemicals and their interactions with other stressors on bees tested in semi-field and field experiments

Lead: Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg (ALU-FR)

Work package 7 will develop protocols to measure the single and interactive effects of key agrochemicals and other stressors on honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees in semi-field and field experiments.

The goal is to test, monitor and assess the single and interactive effects of identified key agrochemicals and their interactions with other stressors on honey bees, bumble bees and solitary bees in semi-field studies across Europe.

+WP8: Systems and agent-based modelling approaches to assess the synergistic effects of multiple stressors on bee health

Lead: University of Udine (UNIUD)

Work package 8 is responsible for deriving a working definition of ‘bee health’ by modelling higher order interactions between multiple stressors of bee health, training and optimizing these models with data from laboratory and field studies and identifying predictable consequences of effects of multiple stressors on bee health.

The aim is to develop a model to assess the combined threat posed to bumble bees in their natural environment by parasites, infectious agents, agrochemicals and other stressors, and implement these tools for risk assessment of environmental threats to bee health

+WP9: OMICS of agrochemical responses in bees

Lead: Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS)

Work package 9 is responsible for establishing an analytical procedure by MALDI Beetyping® of pollinator haemolymph to define the molecular response of bees to stress factors and characterising the molecular changes within hemolymph and targeted tissues (e.g., digestive tract, nervous system) associated with stressor factors.

The vision is to select molecular markers for prognostic/diagnostic application. Eventually, MALDI Beetyping®, will develop a molecular marker solution usable for large scale monitoring.

+WP10: Knowledge Exchange and Impact Strategy

Lead: The University of Reading (UREAD)

Work package 10 will synthesise the project findings and external knowledge and identify appropriate response options for multiple stressors on bee health. This includes the development of policy briefings and engagement with policymakers and coordinating the development of tools and guides for practitioners.

The goal is to help drive evidence-based policy development with respect to pollinator health and national and European levels.

+WP11: Dissemination, Communication and Knowledge Transfer

Lead: Pensoft

Work package 11 will create and maintain a recognisable project brand and effectively communicate and disseminate findings, which will help maximise the uptake and implementation of project results.

The objective is to transfer results to all stakeholders responsible for bee health and raise general public awareness of wild and managed bees health, as well as among young scientists, veterinarians and other specialists via targeted training.

+WP12: Project Management and Scientific Coordination

Lead: Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL)

The overall aim of Work package 12 is to coordinate, structure, and guide the project and consortium practically and scientifically. This includes monitoring the progress, evaluating and managing risk, as well as ensuring quality of project outputs and scientific reports.

The aim is to ensure compliance with Grant Agreement conditions and provide legal management, as well as financial management.

+WP13: Ethics requirements

Lead: Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL)

Work package 13 sets out ethics requirements that must observed within PoshBee.

The aim is to ensure compliance with the ethics requirements throughout the whole project.