• Open Access

Towards an integrated environmental risk assessment of multiple stressors on bees: review of research projects in Europe, knowledge gaps and recommendations


  • European Food Safety Authority

  • Correspondence: scer@efsa.europa.eu
  • Acknowledgement: EFSA wishes to thank Edith Authié, Ryszard Laskowski and Robert Luttik for the reviewing of this report and the hearing expert: Gérard Arnold and EFSA staff: Domenica Auteri, Yann Devos, Jean-Lou Dorne, Diane Lefebvre, Tobin Robinson, Agnès Rortais, Franz Streissl, Csaba Szentes, Simon Terry, Frank Verdonck and Sybren Vos for the support provided to this scientific report.
  • Approval date: 26 February 2014
  • Published date: 13 March 2014
  • Question number: EFSA-Q-2012-00531
  • On request from: EFSA


This report reviews recent work on bee health carried out by EFSA, Member States (MSs) and the European Commission (EC). It identifies data and knowledge gaps and provides research recommendations that may facilitate the transition towards an integrated environmental risk assessment of multiple stressors on bees. The report was produced by the EFSA Bee Task Force (TF), involved representatives from six different Scientific Units, and was coordinated by the Scientific Committee and Emerging Risks Unit (SCER). The TF consulted experts from MSs and the Bee Interservice Group of the EC. Additional scientific exchanges with experts were promoted by SCER through the organisation of a scientific colloquium on bee health in May 2013. The review identified a total of 220 research projects on bee health at EU level (EFSA, 19; MSs, 181; EC, 20), and 33 additional projects from other international organisations dealing with general aspects, non-research-focused, of bee issues. A quantitative assessment of the retrieved projects revealed that research projects on multiple stressors on bees and projects on bees other than honeybees were missing, especially with regard to monitoring and testing. EFSA projects were predominantly in the area of risk assessments of pesticides on bees. Research projects on in-hive treatments and bee exposure to chemicals funded at the EC level were scarce, as were those focusing on protection goals, bee diversity and pollination services at the MS level. The qualitative assessment of the retrieved projects revealed knowledge gaps at each step of the risk assessment, which led to several recommendations for future scientific work at EFSA and research to be undertaken in the framework of Horizon 2020. Additional recommendations are given for research coordination, planning and knowledge sharing with MSs and the EC. At EFSA level, further communication, internal collaborations and training on bee health are suggested.