Research Institute of Organic Agriculture
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On-farm beekeeping research network

Today the honeybee parasite Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) causes the most serious economic damages to beekeepers. Varroa mite directly interferes into the life of bee colonies by feeding on the body fluid of bee larvae and imagos resulting in smaller, underdeveloped bees and shorter lifespan. In addition, the mite also spreads viruses, and by weakening the bee colony it makes bees susceptible to other pathogens as well. Through false orientation, robbing or the relocation of combs mites may get into new bee colonies. 

There are no mite-free bee colonies in Hungary. Without proper medical treatment Varroa infestation extends over time, finally resulting in the collapse of the bee colony. Consequently, the number of mites must be minimized within the bee colonies. Hungarian beekeepers usually use chemical acaricides, the environmental and long term health risks of which are very high. The on-farm beekeeping research network of the Hungarian Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (ÖMKi) aims at developing new bee health prevention technologies free of artificial materials for residue-free and sustainable honey production in Hungary.

Organic approach for sustainable honey production

  • Synthetic agent-free beekeeping practices help to safeguard the health of both bees and beekeepers.
  • We enable the production of special quality honey free of residues, and in order to facilitate this we are developing a quality assurance system.
  • Through the gathering and the cooperation of the actors of the sector we make a basis for the long-term development of sustainable beekeeping in Hungary.

Unique cooperation

Our first workshop on organic beekeeping and the issue of Varroa mite control was organized on 24th March 2013, within the frameworks of which the participating beekeepers discussed organic techniques applied in organic beekeeping, and – with the help of the distributor companies – could meet certified products to be used against the Varroa mite under organic conditions. Since then about 70 beekeepers participate in the activities of the on-farm network, and on-farm meetings, planning days and workshops are regularly organized. There are two professional guides available for the simple presentation of the practical tasks of organic beekeeping.

Objectives of our researches

  • Further development of organic protection strategies against the Varroa mite, which can be used under the Hungarian conditions.
  • Authentic support of the distinctive quality of organic beekeeping and its products.
  • Increasing the number of organic apiaries in Hungary.
  • Collecting professional knowledge within the beekeeping sector, and holding those beekeepers together who apply it at a high level.

Some results that we are especially proud of

  • The initiative developed into a national network spreading dynamically.
  • We have developed and spread organic acid based medication techniques against the Varroa mite, which replace conventional synthetic products throughout the beekeeping year, and are popular all over the country. These are the following:
  • Long lasting oxalic acid formula (in warm seasons),
  • Controlled oxalic acid sublimation used in serial treatments (in cold seasons) and as final treatment before winter.
  • Our research network is supported by the Hungarian National Apiculture Programme as an applied research.
  • The popularity of organic beekeeping has unequivocally increased, and a growing number of beekeepers cooperating with our network apply for organic certification.

Related content and more articles in this category

2019. June 25.

Research with the participation of Hungarian farmers

The ÖMKi on-farm research network is a system of innovative experiments carried out on Hungarian organic farms. It was established in 2012 and since then, the number of participants has been increasing continuously. This is the first research network in Hungary that is based on the active participation of farmers: the topics of our simple experiments carried out under realistic conditions are determined together with the farmers.

2022. February 4.

Hungary’s largest organic agriculture research institute presents flour from ancient grains

Emmer and einkorn landrace organic flour varieties are now on sale

2020. May 20.

A future without bees?

Let’s do something for them instead on the World Bee Day (too)!

Bees – both honeybees and wild bees – are nature’s most important pollinators, and without them it wouldn’t only be the honey on our toast we would be missing, but about 70% of our agricultural plants would not be able to yield any fruits or crops either.



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