Review of the evidence on bee background mortality

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Series Details Volume 17, Number 7
Publication Date July 2020
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In March 2019, the European Commission mandated EFSA to revise its guidance document on the risk assessment of plant protection products on bees (Apis mellifera, Bombus spp. and solitary bees). One of the aspects of this revision involves a review of the evidence on bee background mortality, which is addressed in this report.

Eight different assessment questions were formulated in order to account for the various bee groups, the difference between active and inactive periods, and to specifically consider the influence of beekeeping practices on honey bees. A systematic literature review and a survey of beekeepers from several EU countries were used as the main sources of information. The available dataset for honey bees is large enough to draw rather robust conclusions.

The results of the analysis highlight important differences in levels of background mortality between the castes and roles of the bees in the colony. The impact of beekeeping practices on mortality appears to be very limited, but not completely absent. The dataset for bumble bees and solitary bees is smaller and too scattered to be able to draw robust conclusions. Nevertheless, it is sufficient to be able to define a plausible range of background daily mortality rates, and to provide some indications of differences among species.

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