IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE - The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.
European Flag    Europa The European Commission Research Agriculture FAIR
index by sub-area Animal and plant health, animal welfare
index by country Sweden

Coordination in Europe of research on integrated control of varroa mites in honey bee colonies

Contract nr: FAIR-CT97-3686
Project nr: 3686
Project type: CA
Starting date: 01/01/1998
Duration: 24 months
Total cost: 70,000 EUR
EC Contribution: 70,000 EUR
Scientific Officer: Massimo BURIONI
Research topic: Animal health

Since the entrance of the ectoparasitic Varroa mite (Varroa jacobsoni) into European honey bee colonies in the 1970's, this mite has become the major obstacle to profitable bee-keeping. Without control of the mite population, honey bee colonies die approximately three to five years after the first mite attack. To control the mite population, the most common measures include the use of acaricides, especially pyrethroides, inside the colonies. Until recently these methods have been highly effective but we now have evidence of acaricide resistant mites in parts of Italy, France, Switzerland, Austria and Spain. In Italy there are reports of losses of about 50 % of the honey bee colonies in parts of Lombardia, where mite control has relied heavily on treatment with acaricides. Besides the fact that Varroa mites are now developing resistance to major groups of acaricides, it has become obvious that there is also a problem with increasing levels of acaricide residues in products from the bee hive. In particular, the most widely used acaricides accumulate in beeswax and have already been shown to affect the quality of honey. It is imperative that the quality of products from the bee hive is not jeopardised, since this may have a negative impact on honey consumption, on bee-keeping at large and on the local marketing of honey. The severity of the problem of Varroa mites to European bee-keeping, the need to coordinate treatment of varroatosis, and the need to improve honey quality, have recently been emphasised in a document from the Commission of the European Union (Doc. COM (94) 256 endg.) Because of the problems at present with acaricide resistant mites, and the increasing problems of residues in hive products, there is an urgent need to develop a strategy for Varroa mite control that avoids these problems. It is clear that it is possible to sufficiently control the mite with softer chemicals, such as organic acids and etheric oils (some of which occur naturally in the bee hive). However, the efficacy of these methods often depends on details in the application procedure or on environmental factors, and it is not always clear that the methods are suitable for different regions or climatic conditions.

By combining information from research in different parts of Europe on integrated Varroa control, the process of developing successful strategies can be greatly enhanced. There is an urgent need to standardise methods of evaluating treatment regimes and to merge results on integrated Varroa control from different parts of Europe. By creating a European network of researchers specialised in integrated control of the Varroa mite, it is possible to coordinate the efforts in this field and to produce comparable results in different regions of Europe. As acaricide resistant mites continue to develop, the economic importance of such a network will continue to grow. With the purpose of developing realistic treatment alternatives to the most commonly used acaricides, it should also be emphasised that the proposed network will be of a direct value to practical beekeeping all over Europe.

The CA consisted of four scheduled meetings with all participants, and one sub-coordinator meeting. Working groups have expediated work between meetings. The last CA meeting, in Merelbeke, Belgium also included invited participants representing administrators, beekeeping advisory systems, beekeepers and product developers.

Current situation/results:
The CA was terminated on December 31 1999. To be able to extend the network beyond this time limit, initiatives have been taken to create a European Network on Integrated Varroa Control. The first meeting to establish this network will be organised in Switzerland, 16-17 June 2000. The main achievements of the CA are:
1) coordinating research in several countries using the same protocol (primarily oxalic acid and formic acid applications);
2) recommendations for experimental protocols for mite control;
3) formulated strategies for ecological mite control in northern, central and southern Europe.
The main results, together with the proceedings from the last CA meeting, can be found on the CA website.


Ingemar FRIES
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Department of Entomology
S-750 07 Uppsala
Tel.: +46 18 672 073
Fax: +46 18 672 890


  • Marc Edouard COLIN
    Institut National de la Recheche Agronomique
    Station de Zoologie
    Domaine Saint Paul - Agroparc
    F-84914 Avignon
    Tel.: +33 4 90 31 60 30
    Fax: +33 4 90 31 62 70

    Free University Berlin
    Department of Zoology
    D-14195 Berlin
    Tel.: +49 30 838 39 45
    Fax: +49 30 838 39 16
    Landesanstalt fuer Bienenkunde der Universität Hohenheim Landesanstalt
    August-Von-Artmann-Str. 13
    D-70 593 Stuttgart
    Tel.: +49 711 459 26 61
    Fax: +49 711 459 22 33

  • Ralph BÜCHLER
    Hessische Landesanstalt fuer Tierzucht Abteilungfuer Bienenzucht
    Erlenstraße 9
    D-35274 Kirchhain
    Tel.: +49 642 294 06 13
    Fax: +49 642 294 06 33

  • Antonio NANETTI
    Istituto Nazionale di Apicoltura
    Via San Giacomo 9
    I-40126 Bologna
    Tel.: +39 051 24 43 52
    Fax: +39 051 25 19 36

  • Norberto MILANI
    Universita degli Studi di Udine
    Via Palladio 8
    I-331000 Udine
    Tel.: +39 043 255 85 08
    Fax: +39 043 255 85 01

  • Henrik HANSEN
    Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries
    Danish Institute for Plant and Soil Science
    Department of Cereals, Seeds and Industrial Crops
    Ledreborg Alle' 98
    DK-4000 Roskilde
    Tel.: +45 46 32 02 04
    Fax: +45 46 32 55 05

  • Franco MUTINELLI
    Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale delle Venezie (Sanitary Public Body)
    Via Romea 14/A
    I-35020 Legnaro
    Tel.: +39 049 807 03 06
    Fax: +39 049 807 05 70

  • Mariano HIGES
    Centro Apicola Regional
    Servicio Investigacion agraria
    Junta de Conunidades Castilla - Lamancha
    San Martin S/N
    E-19180 Marchamalo
    Tel.: +34 94 925 00 26
    Fax: +34 94 925 01 76

  • Anton IMDORF
    Swiss Federal Office of Agriculture
    Mattenhofstraase 5
    CH-3003 Bern
    Tel.: +41 3 13 23 82 12
    Fax: +41 3 13 23 80 11

  • Seppo KORPELA
    Agricultural Research Center of Finland
    Institute of Plant Protection
    FIN-31600 Jokioinen
    Tel.: +358 1 64 18 85 76
    Fax: +358 1 64 18 85 84

  • Wolfgang RITTER
    Tierhygienisches Institut
    Abteilung Bienenkunde
    Am Moosweiher 2
    D-79018 Freiburg
    Tel.: +49 761 1502 141
    Fax: +49 761 150 22 99

    Ambrosiushoeve Research Center for Insect Pollination and Beekeeping
    Ambrosiusweg 1
    NL-5081 Hilvarenbeek
    Tel.: +31 135 42 58 88
    Fax: +31 135 43 91 55

  • Johan CALIS
    Wageningen Agricultural University
    Department of Entomology
    PO Box 8031
    NL-6709 Wageningen PD
    Tel.: +31 317 48 23 20
    Fax: +31 317 48 48 21
  Search Top