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BEE SHOP Bees in Europe and Sustainable Honey Production
Honey is among the oldest food products of mankind and beekeeping is deeply rooted in every European culture. Numerous European and national regulations control honey quality, which reflects both the high nutritional and societal value of the product. Yet in an environment with increasing chemical pollution and the wide use of agrochemicals, honey runs high risks of becoming chemically polluted. In addition a broad spectrum of chemicals is used to treat honeybee diseases, further contaminating honey with sometimes highly toxic compounds. The BEE SHOP is a network of nine leading European honeybee research groups in honey quality, pathology, genetics and behaviour as well as selected beekeeping industries, which all share a common interest in promoting Europe's high honey quality standards. The prime goal is to reduce potential sources of honey contamination due to both foraging contaminated nectar and chemotherapy of honeybee diseases. The BEE SHOP will therefore deal with the development of biological resistance to pests and pathogens to avoid chemotherapy. Various European honeybee races and populations will be screened for their disease resistance potential to the main pressing pathogens. Differences in foraging patterns among European honeybees and their underlying mechanisms will be studied to identify behavioural traits reducing contamination. The impact of honey quality on disease prevention in honeybee colonies will be studied by analysing antimicrobial properties of plant and bee derived compounds in bee products . These new tools for testing honey quality and authenticity will also allow for inspections of honey according to the current EC directives on honey quality and organic beekeeping. Differences in disease susceptibility will be genetically analysed by QTL mapping. Major loci in the genome will be identified with the aid of the published honeybee genome. SNPs will be developed to allow for selection of specific target genes in both drones and queens before insemination. This will greatly accelerate the selection progress in honeybee breeding allowing for the swift establishment of resistant but efficient stock.
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