Safeguarding agroecosystem resilience under climate change through efficient pollination and sustainable beekeeping

The overall objective of SafeAgroBee is to contribute to adaptation and mitigation of the effects of climate change and other drivers negatively influencing the sustainability and the resilience of the agroecosystems in the Mediterranean basin, ensuring the income of farmers and food security. In SafeAgroBee we focus on beekeeping and on pollination services provided by both Apis and non-Apis bees as important drivers in ruling food security, biodiversity, and human well-being.

To this aim, SafeAgroBee will specifically address the following points:

  1. Examine the resilience of bee pollinators (Apis and non-Apis bees) in a changing environment and their capacity to ensure pollination services and crop productivity. For that, we will evaluate Apis and non-Apis bee contribution to the pollination of key crops in the Mediterranean basin (e.g. apple, oilseed rape) along a combined gradrient of climate and honey bee densities to assess synergetical effect among pollinators that maximize pollination services to crops and honey production, in order to derivate integrated management practices that improve food production and safeguard biodiversity in agroecosystems
  2. Investigate the adaptability of local bee populations and the application of optimal practices under climate change in order to ensure sustainable beekeeping: Several local genotypes will be tested in different environmental conditions and their performance will be monitored; special traits responsible for disease resistance will also be evaluated
  3. Support the development of mitigation strategies ensuring the health of the bees and provide advice for the beekeepers: Organic versus conventional farming strategies and technological beekeeping practices as well as the use of gut microbiota to fight contagious deseases will help to establish different scenarios on adaptation and mitigation measures to be delivered to beekeepers
  4. Develop innovative monitoring tools and precision apiculture systems for advanced data acquisition; improve capacity building of the existing innovative systems for data aquisition as well as developing a platform, as ‘Knowledge Hub’ for data analysis, data sharing and eventually data utilization by all stakeholders
  5. Develop, test and validate a set of modelling tools supporting sustainable beekeping. This includes, models for evaluating the interactions among landscape, wild bees and managed bees (e.g. landscape pollination requirement and pollination provision by bees), and models for predicting the health status and potential productivity of bees (e.g. honey production)
  6. Adopt a Citizen Science approach to interact and collaborate with all stakeholders (beekeepers, farmers, advisors, policy makers) and the citizens.