Bees for Biodiversity

Bees for Biodiversity

Biodiversity: irrenouncable value for sustainable agriculture

Biological diversity is one of the fundamental resources for man, such as water and energy resources. Maintaining a high biodiversity in the environment must, therefore, represent an indispensable objective for production activities, especially in the primary sector.

Agenda 21 (objectives 4 and 5) indicates the path for the salvation of the planet: management of water resources and energy sources, protection of marine ecosystems and forests, fight against desertification and conservation of biodiversity.

The Project

The Bees for Biodiversity project, type C, transregional ESF, aims to include – Smart Agrifood, innovation driver in the field of environmental sustainability, within the “Smart specialization strategy” of the Veneto Region (RIS3), with development trajectories that cover all five points of the strategy

  • Nutrition, health and food safety;
  • Sustainable agri-food;
  • Intelligent management of natural and energy resources;
  • Innovative and sustainable transformation processes;
  • Traceability and protection of supply chains.

The Bees for Biodiversity project is developed by WBA onlus in synergy with BIOAPI and the FEM-CTT group (Plant Protection and Agroforestry Biodiversity Operational Unit, beekeeping group of the Edmunch Much Foundation).

As part of the Project, WBA Project has published “L’apicoltore consapevole”, a manual on natural beekeeping with top bar hives, written by the American beekeeper Christy Hemenway. This guide addresses the topic in a broad and in-depth way and represents a fundamental starting point for those who intend to devote themselves to beekeeping, even without having experience or knowledge of how to raise bees, how to set up and control top bar hives, what terrible consequences can result from an infection due to the parasitic mite Varroa destructor, or other diseases and parasites of bees and many other topics.

Purpose

Among the objectives of the project is the spread of the breeding of honey bees and that of making an active contribution to the spread of the breeding of the same, disseminating the type of “family beekeeping”: low use of technology and equipment, and high efficiency in the control of diseases and parasites by means of biological techniques.

 

The scientific and technological objectives of the project want to highlight the possibility of using natural beekeeping through “top bar hives“, as a tool for cultural and cultural aggregation, as well as as a tool for assessing environmental qualities, through the analysis of pollutants starting from bees and beehive products.

 

The spread of family beekeeping can benefit professional beekeeping, increasing the knowledge and appreciation of bees and those who take care of them at a social level, and above all making the critical aspects for the survival of bees more tangible.

The meaning of a family bee-keeping

Family beekeeping, based on principles of natural reproduction and selection of queen bees, in fact favors the maintenance or reconstitution of a high genetic diversity (ecotypic type) in honey bees.

 

Family beekeeping, also called backyard beekeeping, must not and cannot be an alternative or competitive to the activity of beekeepers because it is mainly devoted to the maintenance and diffusion of honey bees, social insects, which live in permanent colonies (superorganisms) composed of several tens of thousands of individuals who feed mainly on nectar and pollen, in the wake of a phenomenon of co-evolution with seagrass plants.

 

These aspects mean that honey bees, much more than other pollinating insects, are key organisms for the conservation of plant biodiversity and therefore for the maintenance of different ecosystems.

Beekeepers: depositors of millenary knowledge

The main actors of these actions must be beekeepers, custodians of millenary knowledge and always ready for new technical and intellectual challenges. Furthermore, the opportunity that a beekeeping with “Arnie Top Bar” can offer to conventional beekeeping companies should not be underestimated. This breeding system and the particular approach can help every beekeeper to better understand the intimate biology of the honey bee, its potential and its weaknesses, knowledge that can then be transferred to beekeeping with standard hives.

Urban beehives

The need to ensure absolutely accurate management from a health point of view of small family apiaries requires coordinated and reasoned action to provide clear and accessible information and tools to all. In this perspective, urban and above all village beekeeping must also be included, which could find their important qualification and enhancement.

In fact, the project aims to encourage the presence of hives especially in vegetable gardens and gardens, in the concept of backyard beekeeping.

Bee breeding and teaching

The honey produced with these hives, obtained by pressing and not by centrifugation, can constitute an additional product with which to differentiate the offer to its customers. From a didactic point of view, the top bar hives are perfect, both because they allow you to more realistically show the biology of the honey bee but also because the bees reared show great docility.

Thee top bar as huts for the biomonitoring of pollutants

In recent decades, the quality of life and the perception of it in a territory has become a priority on a global level. One of the significant aspects is the environmental condition, from which derives a series of considerations and actions that regulate its protection. In order to protect the environment, its state must be measured, through monitoring that determine the degree of healthiness.

Why with bees?

In recent years, monitoring with bees has assumed great importance due to the characteristics of management simplicity and the greater effectiveness of detection compared to other methods. In fact, bees are able to reveal the health of the environment for a range of up to over 3 km from the location of the detection stations.

Bees are excellent biological indicators, able to monitor the quality of the environment in which they live, through these signals:

  • mortality,
  • residues found in the bodies
  • residues found in hive products

Many features make the bee a good ecological detector:

  • it is easy to breed;
  • it is an organism that adapts to any environment;
  • its body is covered with hair which makes it particularly suitable for intercepting materials and substances with which it comes into contact;
  • it is highly sensitive to most pesticides and insecticides.

The high reproduction rate and the relatively short average lifespan of the bee (about 40 days as an adult insect in the summer), induces a fast and continuous regeneration in the hive, has a high mobility and a wide range of flight that allows you to control a large area, carries out numerous daily withdrawals (up to 10,000,000 per hive), patrols all environmental sectors (soil, vegetation, water, air), has the ability to bring various types of external materials back into the hive ( nectar, pollen, propolis and water) and to store them according to controllable criteria.

All the information obtained, the precise data of the laboratory analyzes carried out by accredited bodies, such as CRE-API and the Edmunch Much Foundation of San Michele all’Adige (TN), as well as the evaluation of environmental assessment interventions, through selective colonization analysis by part of the Apoidea insects in the “Insecten Hotels” used in the project, will allow the creation of a permanent monitoring network. It is therefore planned to create a synergy between research bodies and public institutions responsible for collective health and agricultural management in the Triveneto, in order to harmonize the application and management interventions. The data collected, processed and made available through targeted but public communication with new communication methods thanks to the web network, will be able to provide added value to the Triveneto beekeeping sector, giving a high integration to the income of individual companies and on the other, providing lines guide and the establishment of permanent interregional working groups with representatives of beekeepers, universities, government bodies, trade associations, large-scale distribution and exponents of citizens’ communities.

Specifically, the knowledge and skills that the research intends to develop can be summarized briefly in the two positions of fellows who will be trained:

– a technologist expert in environmental assessments by analyzing pollutants and ecological assessments given by physiology estimates adaptive of animal populations (bees and apoidea);

– a technologist expert in indexing and web, mobile and smart enhancement of search contents.

Coordinators

FEM-CTT (Unità operativa Protezione delle piante e biodiversità agroforestale, gruppo apicoltura)

WBA onlus, WBA project

Bioapi – Centro Culturale di Apicoltura – Biologica e Naturale

The project is supported by GIORDAN s.as.


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