Navigation path

Themes
Agriculture & food
Energy
Environment
ERA-NET
Health & life sciences
Human resources & mobility
Industrial research
Information society
Innovation
International cooperation
Nanotechnology
Pure sciences
Research infrastructures
Research policy
  Current framework programme
  Economic development and cohesion
  Enlargement
  European Research Area
  Past framework programmes
  Regional dimension of innovation
  Scientific support to policies
  Sixth Framework Programme
  Other
Science & business
Science in society
Security
SMEs
Social sciences and humanities
Space
Special Collections
Transport

Countries
Countries
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Finland
  France
  Georgia
  Germany
  Ghana
  Greece
  Hungary
  Iceland
  India
  Ireland
  Israel
  Italy
  Japan
  Kazakhstan
  Kenya
  Korea
  Latvia
  Lithuania
  Luxembourg
  Macedonia - former Yugoslav Republic
  Malta
  Mexico
  Montenegro
  Morocco
  Namibia
  Netherlands
  Nigeria
  Norway
  Peru
  Poland
  Portugal
  Romania
  Russia
  Senegal
  Serbia
  Slovakia
  Slovenia
  South Africa
  Spain
  Swaziland
  Sweden
  Switzerland
  Taiwan
  Tunisia
  Turkey
  Ukraine
  United Kingdom
  United States


   Research policy

Last Update: 07-08-2012  
Related category(ies):
Agriculture & food  |  Success stories  |  Research policy

 

Countries involved in the project described in the article:
France  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Slovakia  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

BEE SHOP – Keeping life sweet: protecting the purity of one of our oldest foods

Honey has been a part of human life since ancient times. Cave paintings in Valencia, in Spain, suggest that humans hunted for honey at least 10,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians used honey to embalm the dead, and traces have even been found in the tomb of Tutankhamun.
Alongside its role as a foodstuff, the practical health benefits of honey have also long been recognised, although it is only recently that honey's antiseptic and antibacterial properties have been properly understood. Not by chance, it would seem, is honey one of the five elixirs of immortality in Hinduism.


© Fotolia, 2012

For all this, honey in the 21st century faces some serious threats – in spite of a range of European and national regulations designed to control its quality.

Increasing environmental pollution, together with the widespread use of chemicals in agriculture, is affecting the nectar foraged by honeybees, putting the honey itself at risk of pollution. At the same time, the use of chemicals to treat honeybee diseases puts honey at risk of contamination by toxic substances.

It was to address these threats that the BEE SHOP project was set up in 2006, bringing together nine leading European honeybee research groups. With nearly € 2 million of funding provided under the Food Safety and Quality theme of the EU's 6th Framework Programme, the project was designed to pool the expertise of the research groups across a range of specialist areas including honey quality, pathology, genetics and honeybee behaviour.

The overriding aim of the consortium was to ensure honey quality by reducing the potential sources of contamination, whether these arose from bees foraging in nectar contaminated with insecticide, or from the chemicals used to treat honeybee disease.

In the words of BEE Shops' co-ordinator, Professor Robin Moritz of Martin-Luther-University in Halle, Germany: "Since there is an increase in honeybee diseases, novel chemotherapies have been developed. Typically, most bees are susceptible to diseases, but there may be strains that are less susceptible and we are in search of these."

Against this background, one of BEE Shops' most ambitious intentions was to start the process of completely eliminating the need for chemicals to treat and control honeybee disease.

One innovative result of the project's work was the development of molecular tools for the selection of disease resistant colonies – an advance made possible by the completion of the sequencing of the honeybee genome. Since individual genes control specific disease resistance in honeybees, the ability to select stock, together with methods to control mating, should now enable this ambition to be realised.

In parallel with this, BEE-SHOP researchers also identified behavioural and physiological mechanisms in bees, in order to help control the way in which they forage for nectar and so avoid contaminated nectar sources. Other initiatives included the investigation of pathogens affecting honeybees – in particular their virulence and their transmission pathways, as well as the resistance levels of different honeybee strains.

By significantly adding to our understanding of honeybees' behaviour, disease patterns and genetic characteristics, the three and a half year BEE SHOP project undoubtedly made a major contribution to the goal of preserving the quality of European honey. This is of direct benefit not only to all consumers, but also to Europe's honey producers.

Thanks to BEE SHOP, the future one of the oldest foodstuffs known to humanity looks secure. For Europe's honeybees, honey producers and consumers, life will continue to be sweet.

Project details

  • Participants: Germany (Coordinator), Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Slovakia, United Kingdom
  • FP6 Proj. N° 22568
  • Total costs: € 2 610 000
  • EU contribution: € 1 860 000
  • Duration: March 2006 – August 2009

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also

Project web site

Project information on CORDIS

Contacts
Unit A1 - External & internal communication,
Directorate-General for Research & Innovation,
European Commission
Tel : +32 2 298 45 40
  Top   Research Information Center