In an innovative approach to supporting honeybee survival and agricultural pollination in the face of ongoing climate change, a unique project is being undertaken on the Maltese islands.

A €1.74 million research study led by the Beekeeping and Agro-environmental Research Center (CIAPA) of Spain is underway to identify honeybee species that are most resilient to climate change in the Mediterranean. University of Malta researchers and Maltese beekeepers are participating.

The University of Malta has stated that honeybees are critical to sustainable agriculture. Given the increased desertification of the Maltese islands as well as the Mediterranean region, a new project is aimed at supporting this sustainability.

This 2:31-minute video by TRT World features a Turkish beekeeper and how bee decline threatens entire eco-systems:



Honeybees from Lebanon and Turkey to Spain and Morocco—in other words, from countries surrounding the Mediterranean—will be observed by Maltese scientists. They will identify which honeybee species are most resilient to climate change. Researchers will monitor the diversity of the honeybees, and the resistance and endurance of bee colonies will be assessed, so new genetic markers can be identified for the honeybee species that prove to be the most resilient.

Dr. Marion Zammit Mangion, from the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, is leading the University of Malta’s participation with contributions by Dr. Belinda Gambin of the Institute of Earth Systems and Dr. Sandro Lanfranco of the Department of Biology.

In addition, Thomas Galea of Breeds of Origin, and all local beekeepers, will contribute to the project and will set up testing apiaries and conduct field studies on the native Maltese honeybee along with non-native honeybees.

The Maltese team will also carry out mitochondrial tests of the genetic studies on all the honeybee subspecies that are investigated during this project.

The group that is carrying out the study is the MEDIBEES consortium. Maltese researchers will identify the most critical challenges and major threats to honeybees in the region and adopt a strategy.

Such a project could work well in other climate regions of the globe that share common changes based on climate change.