National Reference Centre / FAO Reference Centre for Beekeeping
The IZSVe has been active in beekeeping since the 1970s, particularly, in the diagnosis, prevention and control of honey bee diseases. The detection and spread of the Varroa mite throughout Italy was of particular importance in the IZSVe’s becoming a reference laboratory; the IZSVe developed integrated programmes for the control of Varroa destructor infestation, in collaboration with national research institutes in both Italy and other countries.
In 1995, the IZSVe was appointed the Beekeeping Centre of the Veneto Region (Italy). The Centre has also been active in evaluating the quality of honey and other honey bee products and in developing new analytical methods. Another important activity is the detection of residues of veterinary medicines and residues from agriculture and the environment in honey.
Since 1999, the Centre has been accredited by SINAL, Italy’s national laboratory-accreditation body, which verified the ability to conduct the tests for which accreditation was granted, after having verified compliance with the requirements of standard EN ISO/IEC 17025.
In 2003 the IZSVe was appointed the National Reference Centre for Beekeeping by the Italian Ministry of Health, and in 2018 also as the National reference laboratory for honey bee health.
In 2019 the IZSVe was appointed as FAO Reference Centre for Apiculture, Health and Biosecurity (jointly with the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e Toscana).
Activities and services
The National reference centre for beekeeping currently performs more than 50 different diagnostic and analytical tests for evaluating problems related to beekeeping and beekeeping products. The methods used for the diagnosis of honey bee diseases are those indicated in the “Manual of Standards for Diagnostic Tests and Vaccines for Terrestrial Animals”, edited by OIE/WOAH (7th ed., 2012).
The analytical methods used for determining physicochemical and bacteriological parameters and for residue analysis are regulated (D.M. 25/07/2003) or developed and validated in the laboratory, in accordance with standard UNI EN ISO 17025. Most methods are accredited.
- Varroa destructor is probably the most devastating parasite of honey bees causing damages to both the brood and the adults. Furthermore, associated viruses such as Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV) relevantly contribute to further damage the colony.
- American foulbrood (brood disease) caused by Paenibacillus larvae is still a threat to honey bee colonies, while to a significantly less extent European foul brood (also brood disease) due to Melissococcus plutonius.
- Nosema ceranae seems to have replaced N. apis in the whole country. Its true direct and indirect impact on honey bee health is still matter of investigation. Its presence in Italy was firstly published in 2007, the oldest positive honey bee sample was dated 1993, in agreement with the findings of the other European countries.
- Acarapis woodi is no longer detected.
- Tropilaelaps spp. is still exotic to Europe. (ANSES )
- The small hive beetle (SHB) Aethina tumida is present in South Italy since november 2014.
The monitoring activities carried out in recent years on samples from the entire national territory have shown that the presence of pesticides on live honey bees amounted to about 8%. In cases of reported abnormal mortality the presence of residues of pesticides in dead bees rises to about 65%. The investigations carried out on beebread demonstrated a contamination due to pesticides in about 27% of cases.
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