L-R: Fernand Etgen, Minister of Agriculture, Viticulture and Consumer Protection; Paul Jungels, beekeeper; Credit: MAVPC

Yesterday, 22 August 2017, the Luxembourg Ministry of Agriculture, Viniculture and Consumer Protection discussed the projects relating to bee health BeeFirst and VSH at a press conference in Brandenburg.

Agriculture Minister Etgen opened the press conference with introductory words on the current status of bee health, noting how bees are affected by Varroa mites, as well as the use of pesticides and the deterioration of their natural habitat and food sources. At the event, the importance of the honeybee and its economic, ecological and ecological benefits were also emphasised.

In order to deal with the phenomenon of bee mortality, the Ministry of Agriculture currently supports two projects, which were presented to professional bee trainer Paul Jungels at the event.

 Marco Beyer from the Institute of Science and Technology (LIST) presented the latest results from the research project "BeeFirst" and showed which pesticide residues from agriculture and beekeeping were detected in pollen samples collected from bees and the effects of these residues on bee health. The active substances metazachlor and thiacloprid, both of which are more important in rapeseed cultivation, are negatively affected. Above all increased stress caused by thiacloprid appear to have an influence on the bee health.

Under the precautionary principle, Minister Etgen subsequently announced that he wanted to limit the use of the active substance thiacloprid in agriculture on the basis of the results of "BeeFirst". Accordingly, this compound is no longer classified as dangerous to the environment and its application is subject to stricter rules. Restrictions regarding the active substance metazachlor have already been taken within the framework of drinking water problems. In addition, the project duration of "BeeFirst" is extended.

Subsequently, Paul Jungels presented the second project "Varroa sensitive hygiene" (VSH), funded by the Ministry of Agriculture. The aim of this project is to breed bees, which tolerate attacks by Varroa mites, to which Luxembourg honeybees are currently not adapted. A successful conclusion of the internationally networked VSH project should allow to eliminate a major factor of bee mortality and to ensure the long-term preservation of beekeeping.