Apidology – Bee research group
Bees have both an environmental and a productive value. Environmental, for their role in the pollination of spontaneous flora and as a bioindicator; productive, thanks to the direct production of honey, royal jelly, pollen, wax, propolis on behalf of honey bees and for crop pollination. Bees are facing increasing difficulties caused by numerous factors, including the intensification of agricultural activities, the loss of habitats and biodiversity, the decrease of nutritional resources, the arrival of new pests and pathogens. The CREA - Agriculture and Environment Research Center seeks to respond to these challenges through research, training and dissemination activities.
The Bee research group of the CREA Agriculture and Environment Research Center collects the legacy of the National Institute of Apiculture whose foundation dates back to the 1930s, a period in which it was erected as a "Moral Entity" under the supervision of the Ministry for Agriculture, with Royal and Imperial Decree. At that time there was a strong development in commercial queen bee production and there was the need to certify the queens produced for trade, in order for them to conform to health and race standards, and the Institute was created to meet this need. Over the years apicultural activities have undergone a strong development and the institute's skills have expanded to continue meeting the needs of beekeepers.
With the advent of an increasingly intensive agriculture, new problems have arisen, especially related to the use of agrochemicals and the arrival of exotic pests. At the same time, the simplification of trade has made the enhancement of Italian beekeeping products increasingly important, in the face of a global economy. More recently, awareness is growing that the phenomenon of climate change can also have a strong influence on bees, which have taken on an environmental significance which is marked by their role in pollination and by their unique ability to take matrices of various kinds from a vast territory. The Bee research group therefore fits perfectly within the "Agriculture and Environment" research center, which has as its mission the efficient management and monitoring of natural resources, both biotic and abiotic, for sustainable and innovative agriculture.
The Bee research group is made up of 8 researchers and 8 technicians from the scientific area, and other staff employed on a temporary basis for specific projects. The group is located in Bologna, in via di Saliceto n.80.
Scientists and technical and administrative staff part of the Bee research group, summer 2019. Starting from top left: Ilaria Cardaio, Antonio Nanetti, Marino Quaranta, Cecilia Costa, Patrizia Bergomi, Roberto Colombo, Gian Luigi Marcazzan, Maria Teresa D’Amato, Michela Boi, Emanuele Carpana, Laura Bortolotti, Vittorio Capano, Piotr Medrzycki, Sara Danielli, Gennaro Di Prisco, Francesca Corvucci, Antonio Iannone, Francesca Vittoria Grillenzoni, Anna De Rogatis, Giorgia Serra.
What we do
The group’s activity in support of the bees, the environment and the beekeeping sector is performed by pursuing research in the following areas:
- Pathology: biology of the parasitic mite Varroa destructor and biological and biotechnical methods to control its reproduction and development; alternative methods to prevent bacterial (Paenibacillus larvae) and fungal (Nosema ceranae) infections; diagnosis and control techniques for Aethina tumida and Vespa velutina.
- Nutrition: evaluation of the effect of feeding on bee health in realistic contexts of stress of the colonies due to lack or insufficient natural resources, and repercussions on the immune system of the bee.
- Genetics: genetic improvement of the subspecies of bees bred on the Italian territory with focus on disease resistance characteristics; characterization of the biodiversity of the Italian populations of Apis mellifera.
- Biomonitoring: use of Apis mellifera and other Apoidea to evaluate the effect of agronomic practices on pollinating insects, the state of health of agro-ecosystems or urban and industrial environments.
- Ecotoxicology: development of protocols for the evaluation of the effect of pesticides on bees and other pollinators.
- Wild Apoidea: monitoring and characterization of Apoidea populations.
- Product enhancement: enhancement of beekeeping productions through studies and experiments aimed at characterizing and qualifying them.
In addition to research activities, the group carries out institutional activities and services:
- World Bee Day 2020 https://youtu.be/aCjQLOUJgv0
- CREA Bee Marathon 2021 https://sway.office.com/XEz3eHU7VRbSExFA