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CRA-API (Honey Bee and Silkworm Unit of the Council for Research and Experimentation in Agriculture) derived from the former National Institute of Apiculture (Istituto nazionale di Apicoltura, INA) and the former Experimental Sericulture Station.

INA has been working since 1931 to promote and implement initiatives aimed at increasing, optimising and disseminating beekeeping practices and beehive products. The idea of a national institute was born in the 1920s against the regulatory backdrop created by law 562/26, which set forth provisions for the defence of apiculture. Despite its being de facto operational, it was not until 1933 that the provincial council of the corporations of Bologna, the Italian confederation of farmers and the Royal University of Bologna entered into an agreement to set up a consortium for the creation of a National Institute of Apiculture. Thanks to special funding provided by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and the Bologna Savings Bank, the consortium successfully launched the INA, officially instituted by Royal Decree no. 1049 of 16 June 1938. Thereafter the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests provided nearly all of the functional resources required for day-to-day activities, endowing the Institute with facilities and specifically trained laboratory personnel and enabling it to become the main point of reference in Italy for problems and issues related to beekeeping. Since its foundation the INA has had its headquarters in the Department of Zooculture, Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Bologna. Since 1997 it has maintained a centre in Bologna, funded by the Ministry for Agricultural Policy, which boasts innovative labs and facilities geared toward meeting the needs for renewal within the beekeeping sector. Since 1981 the Institute has also had an operating unit in Reggio Emilia, in a branch division of the University of Bologna Faculty of Agriculture (degree course in Animal Production Science). It includes a centre for the selection of Italian honeybees (Apis mellifera ligustica) and an instrumental insemination laboratory.The OU was the first centre in Italy to specialise in the instrumental insemination of queen bees and to apply this technique in programmes for the genetic selection of honeybees. Over the years it has established fruitful partnerships with other organisations (Universities, local health care units, zooprophylactic institutes, beekeepers’ associations) in specific research projects, organisation and management of territorial disease prevention plans and provision of diagnostic services on behalf of beekeepers. Since 1 October 2004 the Istituto Nazionale di Apicoltura has been a member of the CRA .

The Experimental Sericulture Station was established in Padua in 1871, according to the king Vittorio Emanuele II’s decree, and following the proposal of the Minister of Agriculture, Industry and Commerce, Luigi Luzzatti. The basic reason for the foundation of the institution was willingness of counteracting the crisis of Italian sericulture, due to the pebrine (Nosema bombycis) epidemic spreading in Europe, starting with 1845.  Enrico Verson was the first director, who was in charge of the institution from 1871 to 1919. In 1923 the historic seat, in the centre of the Padua city, and belonging to the Province, was transferred in a more suburban zone, by establishing a dedicated building along with a rearing facility and planting an experimental mulberry field. Alternate events in Italian sericulture, which was again under crisis after the Second World War, caused merging of the Padua Station, afterwards dedicated to the above-mentioned Verson, with the Ascoli Piceno one, closed in 1958. One of the two sericultural  collections,  many silkworm strains and some mulberry cultivars constituted the Ascoli’s heritage, In 2006, the historic seat of the Padua Section was transformed into Museum of the Living Insects, where still sericulture collections and historic library are located, while the seat of the research institution was transferred into the nearby rearing facility, which was restored in order to carry out sericulture activity.

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