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A sustainable organic solution for bees decline

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MICRO4BEE (A sustainable organic solution for bees decline)

Reporting period: 2016-03-01 to 2016-08-31

The apiculture sector is an important part of the EU agriculture. There are around 630.000 beekeepers and 16 millions of hives in the EU, producing 234,000 tons of honey per year. Moreover honeybees are of great importance worldwide due to their pollination activity for crops, fruit and wild plants. Since few years, large-scale of honeybees’ losses have been reported worldwide, related to multiple causes.
This project aimed to develop a feasibility study for MICRO4BEE (M4B), an eco-innovative product representing a sustainable solution to the problem of the decline of bees. M4B is a freeze-dried formulation of the symbiotic spore-forming bacteria AC1 and AC2, harmless to humans and with probiotic activities towards honeybees, protecting them against bacterial diseases. The main strength of managing the symbiotic resources associated to honeybees is that it preserves the honeybees’ health by exploiting natural mechanisms of protection (eco-intensification of production). The proposed technology is an example of a sustainable approach towards the environment by enhancing the beehive and honeybee productivity, using a strategy alternative to the traditional ones, based on chemicals.
The marketing analysis identified Europe and USA as the major buyers and provided a sales forecast for the first 4 years. The second activity was related to the regulatory analysis: according to a strategic GAP analysis/data audit (performed by an external consulting group) two possible routes of registration have been indentified for M4B: as a technological feed additive or as a veterinary drug.
The last main task was related to the system design. This activity in collaboration with a third party involved the use of a semi­continuous production unit and led to the optimization of the production protocol for the two bacterial strains of M4B. All these activities have been essential to draw an updated business plan and to define the economic needs to reach the market in the coming years.
The application of such technology could bring significant benefits to the beekeeping sector and improve the health of hives.
It is expected that, starting from a patent already deposited on the use of probiotics in beekeeping, further patents might stem from the project, facilitating the technology transfer. Contacts with a potential business partner who is interested in further applications of the probiotic technology to protect beehives have been already established.
The feasibility study conducted in the frame of the H2020 SME Instrument, helped Micro4yoU S.r.l. to decide to continue the business idea providing interesting information on the registration of the product and on its production on industrial scale.