Global apiculture is facing an unprecedented crisis of increasing parasite pressure and a loss of hon-eybee biodiversity. SMARTBEES unites a team of experts with the necessary skills to build a bright and sustainable future. The SMARTBEES concept is low risk and high impact, using established protocols and state-of-the-art methods. Including world leading researchers from outwith the traditional honeybee sphere (e.g. acarology, genetic breeding and insect immunology). We will identify crucial facets of honeybee resistance to colony losses, Varroa and viruses. We will provide a step-change in the current mechanistic understanding of these traits, and will characterise the genetic background of the resistance mechanisms in honeybees. We will develop breeding strategies to increase the frequencies of these valuable traits in local honeybee populations, considering the variable need of both common and endangered subspecies and local beekeeping practises. Breeding efforts concentrating on very few races may endanger genetic diversity, to avoid this SMARTBEES will promote multiple local breeding efforts, to conserve local resilient populations and will develop molecular tools for describing and safeguarding future populations. SMARTBEES recognizes responsibility to protect our natural honeybee heritage. SMARTBEES will commission extension science, and work in cooperation with stakeholders to attain conservation by utilisation. SMARTBEES will establish a network of apiaries for performance testing, to encourage local uptake of resistant traits. These will be run mainly by beekeepers, thereby improving the local acceptability and dissemination, and support the long-term sustainability of the apicultural sector. SMARTBEES recognises the need to horizon scan for new threats, and the consortium includes the current EU reference laboratory to that end. SMARTBEES is an opportunity to make a lasting difference to the health, resilience and genetic diversity of our honeybees.
Fields of science
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SW1P 3JR London
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