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Folder Scoping meeting “Honey Bees, Indicator of Health and the Environment”, BelSPO, Friday, June 13th 2014


Following increasing concern about the decline of honey bees and the risk this poses to, amongst others, the ecosystem service of pollination, European, national and regional authorities are increasingly developing implementing measures to address the situation. A number of scientific projects, such as those reviewed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA[1]) and approaches to standardize methodologies (COLOSS BeeBooks[2]) have been instrumental to increase understanding while European-wide systems are put in place to monitor trends in bee health. In Belgium it is the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain and the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain that coordinates the national implementation of this monitoring system.

The “Bees” Working Group, under the auspices of Interministerial Conference on the Environment is proposing a number of targeted measures to contribute to a better understanding and monitoring of pollinator health. One of these new actions is the development of a tool “Honey bees, sentinel of health and the environment”. This tool is aimed at becoming a credible and reliable system to monitor ecosystem health, by measuring several actual and potential drivers of honey bee health (pathogens, contaminants, food quality) and quality of bee products as environment proxy. Such a tool must take advantage of, and expanding existing knowledge, methodologies and monitoring systems and must be compatible with similar monitoring systems in use or development throughout the EU. A feasibility study commissioned by the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment confirmed the relevance of such a tool and recommended that it should be based on a multidisciplinary approach.

To ensure that the envisaged monitoring tool is built upon best scientific knowledge, the Belgian National Focal Point to the Convention on Biological Diversity (RBINS) and the Belgian Biodiversity Platform (BBPf) are co-organizing a scoping process on a project proposal aiming to develop a monitoring system using honey bees as indicators of health and the environment. This process will consist of a three-tiered approach, consisting of:

- An initial e-consultation inviting expert views on a number of questions related to the project;
- A one-day scoping meeting where the results of the e-consultation will be discussed and where scientific recommendations relevant to the development of the monitoring tool and research needs will be formulated;
- A consultation amongst representatives of public authorities to develop a call for tender for developing the general protocol and field test of the instrument.

Practical information

Registration for the scoping meeting can be done through this webpage. Deadline is May 19th.

The e-consultation is open to all registered participants. A list of questions will be opened on May 12th; registered participants will receive an e-mail with the link to the E-consultation. Responses and suggestions will be accepted until June 6th.

Participation to the scoping meeting is restricted to a maximum of 30 persons. The organizers will select participants to the meeting in order to obtain a balanced representation of disciplines, expertise, and interests. The scoping meeting will be held at BelSPO (Brussels) on Friday, June 13th, starting at 9:00 AM.

Venue : Belgian Science Policy (BelSPO), Avenue Louise 231 Louizalaan, B-1050 Brussels, Belgium (map)

For more information contact Hendrik Segers (Hendrik.segers [at] or Hilde Eggermont (h.eggermont [at]

Background information

  • « L’abeille, sentinelle de la santé et de l’environnement, indicateur des écosystèmes”(link); “De bij, bewaker van gezondheid en leefmilieu, indicator voor ecosystemen“ (link)


8:30 Start registration
9:30 Introduction (Frédéric Chemay, FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment)
9:45 The EU perspective (Agnès Rortais, Scientific Committee and Emerging Risks Unit, European Food Safety Agency)
10:00 Monitoring Bee health in Belgium (EPILOBEE-project: Stefan Roels & Sophie Roelandt (CODA CERVA))
10:15 Methodology applied in the study: “Honey bee colony disorder in crop areas: the role of pesticides and viruses”. (Noa Simon-Delso, Gilles Saint Martin, Etienne Bruneau, Laure-anne Minsart, Coralie Mouret & Louis Hautier)
10:30 Introduction to the discussion session; outcome of the e-consultation (Hendrik Segers, National Focal Point to the CBD, RBINS)
10:45 Coffee
11:00 Discussion session (parallel sessions)
12:30 lunch
13.30 Experience from Italy: monitoring methodology and results of APENET (Piotr Medrzycki, Agricultural Research Council, CRA-API, Bologna)
13:45 Discussion session (parallel session)
15:00 Coffee
15:30 General discussion and wrap-up


Start registration: May 1st, end of registration: June 6th.
E-consultation: May 12th to June 6th
Scoping meeting: June 13th


PDF De bij, bewaker van gezondheid en leefmilieu, indicator voor ecosystemen (NL) Download
PDF L’abeille, sentinelle de la santé et de l’environnement, indicateur des écosystèmes (FR) Download
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