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Beekeeping and honey production - Introduction

Beekeeping, honey production and wild bees

It is estimated that pollinators contribute at least 22 billion Euros each year to European agriculture, with 84% of crops needing insect pollination, and more than 80% of wild flowers require pollinators to reproduce. However, throughout Europe there a severe decline in the numbers of wild bees and other pollinators and managed honeybees have been reported, and this trend is expected to continue.

The EU has more than 2,500 species of wild bees and one species, the honeybee (Apis mellifera), which has been domesticated and is widely managed; there are also a few other species of bumblebees (Bombus spp.) and Osmia bee which are also managed for pollination services but on a smaller scale.

These EU bee species play an important role in both crop and wild flower pollination and honeybees also provide honey and other apiculture products within the EU.

Latest developments


2014 - Commission announces Conference for Better Bee Health

2013 - Commission continues co-financing voluntary surveillance studies on honeybee losses
This co-financing of EUR 1.84 million was endorsed by Member State experts meeting in the Standing Committee on Animal Health on 10 September and is planned to be formally adopted soon.

2013 - EU takes additional measures on fipronil to better protect Europe’s bees
A Commission proposal to restrict the use of fipronil, an insecticide which has recently been identified as posing an acute risk to Europe’s honey bee population, was backed by Member State experts meeting on 16 July 2013.
Read more on the measures PDF

2013 - Bumble bee study does not affect neonicotinoid conclusions, concludes European Food Safery Authority (EFSA)
EFSA has identified several weaknesses in a study, published by the UK Food and Environment Research Agency, which suggested that neonicotinoid pesticides do not have a major effect on bumble bee colonies under field conditions.
Read more in the statement

2013 - European Food Safery Authority (EFSA) has assessed the risk to bees from fipronil
EFSA scientists have identified a high acute risk posed to bees by fipronil when used as seed treatment for maize.
Read more on EFSA’s study

2013 - Commission goes ahead with plan to better protect bees
A restriction on use of 3 nenicotinoids decided by the European Commission to enter into force on 1 December.
Read more on the Commission's proposal

2013 - European Food Safery Authority (EFSA) identifies risks to bees from neonicotinoids
EFSA scientists have identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides
Read more on the EFSA study

2012 - Commission earmarks €3.3 million for surveillance studies on honeybee colony losses
As part of a series of initiatives, the Commission has earmarked almost €3.3 million to support 17 Member States to carry out surveillance studies aiming to gather further important information on honeybee colony losses.
Read more on the surveillance

2010 - Commission steps up efforts to tackle bee mortality
The European Commission adopted on the 6th of December 2010 a Communication providing for a series of specific actions that will help to better understand the reasons behind the worldwide issue of high bee mortality and will therefore assist the efforts to find solutions to the problem.
Read the Communication BG CS DA DE EL ES ET FI FR HU IT LT LV MT NL PL PT RO SK SL SV pdf

Several key stakeholders has expressed opinions on the Communication

European Institutions

Non-Governmental organisations