IZSLT - Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana “Mariano Aleandri”

The Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana “Mariano Aleandri” (IZSLT) is a public body operating in the frame of the National Health Service with duties related to animal health and welfare and food safety. In such areas it provides services in the diagnosis of animal diseases and zoonoses, microbiological, chemical and physical controls over safety of foods, food production chains and animal feed. In the same areas it performs research, epidemiological surveillance, continuous training and international cooperation activities.

IZSLT's mission is to ensure that animal health and welfare, hygiene of farms, primary productions, safety of foods and animal feed comply with the relevant legislation.

To effectively fulfill its mission, the Institute carries out:

  • diagnostic service over animal diseases and zoonoses;
  • scientific and technical support to veterinary and public health services for controls on animals, food and feed;
  • laboratory tests to verify the health status of animals;
  • technical and scientific support to monitor veterinary medicines;
  • research on animal health and welfare, food safety and hygiene of farming and livestock products;
  • studies on animal welfare and development of alternatives to the use of animals in experiments;
  • studies to monitor the safety of food of animal origin and feed;
  • scientific and technological cooperation with other research institutes;
  • epidemiological surveillance on animal health and food safety, on livestock products and on environmental factors affecting the above;
  • studies on the health risks for humans linked to animals and animal products;
  • support, technical assistance and hygiene information to manufacturers of food of animal origin;
  • production of vaccines and laboratory diagnostics for the improvement of animal health.

In the frame of IZSLT activities, the Apiculture Unit’s mission (http://www.izslt.it/apicoltura/) is to certify and guarantee the health and welfare of bees, and the hygiene and safety of the hive products, through: diagnosis of bee diseases and analyses on hive products, support to Governmental Institutions in drawing up legislation, research activity, collaboration with other laboratories or institutions, technical support and training for operators, pollution environmental monitoring using honey bees and protection of honey bee biodiversity.

Contact person: 
Giovanni Formato

Technologies from IZSLT - Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana “Mariano Aleandri”


Chalkbrood and Stonebrood

Chalkbrood and Stonebrood are fungal diseases of honeybees (Apis mellifera) that occur worldwide. Chalkbrood is caused by Ascosphaera apis and affects the brood.
Stonebrood is caused by Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus fumigatus and affects both the brood and adult bees.

This practice describes the causes and symptoms of Chalkbrood and Stonebrood, how they spread, how to address and prevent these diseases.

Bonnes pratiques apicoles

L’apiculture est la pratique de la gestion des abeilles dans les ruches pour la pollinisation, la production de miel et d'autres produits tels que la cire, la gelée royale, la propolis et le pollen. En outre, un aspect important de l'apiculture est la production d’abeilles, de reines, de paquets d'abeilles, etc. Les bonnes pratiques apicoles impliquent une bonne gestion du rucher ce qui peut prévenir les maladies des abeilles et, au même temps, permet d'obtenir des produits de haute qualité.

Good beekeeping practices

Apiculture (beekeeping) is the practice of honeybee management in hives for pollination, production of honey and other products such as wax, royal jelly, propolis and pollen. In addition, an important aspect of beekeeping is the production of bees, queens, package bees, etc. Good beekeeping practices involve proper management of the apiary that can prevent bee diseases and, at the same time, allow to obtain high quality products respecting the consumer’s health.

Main diseases of honey bees

Honeybees are susceptible to various diseases, some of which are very contagious and diffusive. It is very important that the beekeeper is able to recognize the first signs of disease or infestation in hives and knows how to proceed. This practice outlines the factors that play an important role in the outbreak of a disease and describes the classification of bee diseases.

Varroa mites (Varroatosis or Varroosis)

Varroa destructor is the mite responsible of Varroatosis (or Varroosis), an external parasitic disease that attacks honeybee colonies (adult bees and especially the brood). V. destructor causes the major economic losses to the beekeeping sector because it is widespread and it has a strong adaptability to the treatments.
This mite affects both the brood and the adult bees. It weakens the adult bees by sucking their hemolymph. The weakened bees are more susceptible to other diseases, especially viral pathologies. The first to suffer are the stronger colonies with more brood because of the higher possibility of the mite to replicate at the brood level.


Nosemosis is a fungal disease of adult bees caused by Nosema spp. There are two different sub-species of Nosema that affect Apis mellifera with different prevalence depending on the area: Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae, responsible for two different forms of the disease.
Both N. apis and N. ceranae have a dormant stage, a long-lived spore.The spores are hardly morphologically distinguishable between the two species and represent the resistance and propagation form of the disease (Fig.1). Spores can remain infectious from a few days up to five years at low temperatures.
This practice describes the two forms of the disease caused by Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae, how they are transmitted. It also provides some indications on how to control the disease.

EFB (European Foulbrood)

The European Foulbrood (EFB) is a bacterial disease that affects the honey bee brood. The genetic resistance of some species of bees to this disease may allow, especially in favourable environmental conditions, to overcome the infection without suffering serious damage. However, it should be noted that, even if characterised by a better prognosis than the American Foulbrood, in some areas the EFB has a more malignant manifestation, seriously damaging even very strong bee colonies.

This practice describes the causes and symptoms of EFB, how the disease spreads, and how to address and prevent the disease.

Bee viruses

Virus diseases of bees are spread throughout the world. They are usually undervalued by beekeepers: they can cause serious economic losses if associated with other bee diseases.
Varroa destructor has greatly contributed to increase the incidence of viral diseases. Varroa, in fact, is a passive carrier of bee viruses that are transmitted to the bees through the mite’s saliva. In addition, varroa weakens the immune system of the bees, which can allow the reactivation of latent viral infections already present in the body of the bees.
Other bee diseases that set the conditions for the onset of viral diseases are Nosemiasis, European Foulbrood and Amebiasis.
The transmission of the viruses usually occurs horizontally (e.g. through the bee feces, royal jelly, varroa saliva, the beekeeper), but the transmission of the main bee viruses occur vertically (from the queen to the brood).
This practice describes the causes and symptoms of bee viruses, how these diseases spread, and how to address and prevent them.