Over the past decade, increases in honey bee mortality were reported in several countries within and outside the EU. Therefore, the first task of the EU Reference Laboratory (EU RL) for Bee Health was to provide technical support to the implementation of a surveillance programme on honey bee colony mortality. In 2011, the European Commission (EC) started to set up and co-finance a standardised and pan-European voluntary surveillance programme to obtain reliable and accurate measure of honey bee colony losses and information on honey bee health.

The surveillance procedure foresaw to study in each participating Member State (MS) a number of apiaries, randomly selected, representative of the total population of honey bee colonies. Colony losses were estimated and the prevalence of the major diseases was investigated. The Epidemiological protocol was implemented in each of the 17 selected MSs in order to provide comparable data (Commission implementing decision, 2012). During this study, apart from the active surveillance of colony losses (overwintering colony mortality rate, seasonal colony mortality rate), major honeybee diseases were surveyed:  varroosis, American foulbrood (AFB), European foulbrood (EFB), nosemosis and the chronic bee paralysis. This project also ensured an early alert in case of the detection of the two exotic arthropods Aethina tumida and Tropilaelaps spp. mites.


A web-based database was created, within the framework of the project, which enabled collecting and saving  data of all MSs participating in the study. Each MS had and still has access to its own data. The EURL was in charge of the management and the analysis of the data in consultation with the EC and the participating MSs. This project was the opportunity for common publications between the EURL and the participating MSs.


Check out the reports from EPILOBEE first year and EPILOBEE second year on the European Commission website.


  Check out the Online database of the voluntary study on honeybee colony losses