Sustainable Management of Resilient Bee Populations


Food and Environment Research Agency FERA, United Kingdom


FERA is a leading centre for research in sustainable agriculture and plant protection, providing applied, interdisciplinary, research for both the commercial and government sectors.

FERAs National Bee Unit (comprising staff from both FERA & Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA)) has been involved in the control of bee pests and diseases, along with research and training for beekeepers, for over 60 years. The National Bee Unit (NBU) is a recognised centre of excellence in the provision of advice and research in bee health and currently operates the most comprehensive honeybee surveillance system in Europe (EFSA report).

The NBU draws on the vast and diverse scientific expertise across FERA, and more widely with collaborating universities and institutes in the UK and overseas, drawing on the vast and diverse scientific expertise of our collaborators to achieve the broad range of the work.
As collaborators in the SMARTbees consortium we are involved in 6 of the 10 work packages that make up the project.

These are:

WP 1- Gene discovery of resistance traits
  • Identification of bees with enhanced virus (DWV) resistance, to feed into genetic sequencing work.
  • Gene characterisation and cross verification of resistant traits.

WP 5- Development of new extension methods for sustainable apicultural production and maintained diversity
  • Survey beekeepers and bee breeders on their needs for dissemination strategies and extension, in order to develop a general method for apicultural development in honeybee management.

WP 6- Field testing and selection on local bee populations
  • Field testing the performance and disease resistance of local honey bee populations and breeding lines and provide samples for molecular genetic analysis

WP 7- Dissemination
  • Helping support breeding networks in the UK and Eire.
  • Dissemination of training and findings to stakeholders, including; beekeepers, bee breeders, trainers, associations and government
  • Producing articles for bee keeper magazines, and peer reviewed journals

WP 8- Elucidating and enhancing honeybee resistance mechanisms to parasitic diseases
  • Development of an optimum dietary regime for DWV tolerance in individual bees

WP 9- Determining present and future pathogen threats
  • Investigating the virulence of Europe-wide DWV isolates.
  • Determining signatures of the viral sequences that relate to the virulence and adaptation of DWV to its mite vector (Varroa) and host (honey bee).

For more information, please contact NBU directly via this website.