Christmas Varroa treatment again

It is important to understand the influence of the parasitic varroa mites that we have in nearly all colonies all over Europe.

INSIGNIA uses the honeybees as bioindicators of our surroundings, of the environment. We want to understand what is going on in our environment, about the pollution, the farmers spraying, etc. But then we also need to understand the beekeepers. What are they doing in the colonies ? They need to treat against the varroa mites, otherwise the colonies will die within a few years.

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Pollen as food

Bees pollen is a very important part of the INSIGNIA project. It is collected by the bees as a pallets of pollen made by bees when they land on a flower. It’s a mixture of pollen, saliva, and nectar. It is the very advanced way of the sexual life of the flower plants. The bees bring it from flower to flower. Pollinating. The honeybees are rewarded with nectar and pollen. Pollen is a very important part of the honeybee’s diet as proteins. But for humans it is very interesting as well. One tablespoon of pollen contains  approximately 16 calories 0.3 grams of fat, 1.2 grams of protein, 2.2 grams of carbohydrates, 250 types of nutrients, including vitamins and flavonoids. The last is very interesting. Humans are using it as api-nutrition, means nutrition from the bees’ products. You could say food-supplement. Pollen is also used in the Apitherapy.
Below we show how humans are using pollen in food as the finest and healthy spices you can imaging.

Mixed into homemade chocolate

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Like a crime scene!

Now the laboratories are working. Hard working. Analyzing all our samples. And is a lot. And they do an amazing job. They analyze, the give results, they question if that and that substance really is to find in the vicinity of the colonies. We give our best answers. They go back, re-analyze and do it even in another laboratory to exclude mistakes. They are very accurate and careful. They came back, telling that the findings are confirmed. We discus, we wonder, we get surprised and we get very excited on this project. It is like a crime case, where now the forensics are working. And they ask for new samples, to conform a suspicion.

This happens today. They wanted to validate or invalidate some findings. They want to be total sure. So, they asked for honey samples and control samples. So, we did. And nice to visit the colonies, confirming if they are alive. And they are and they look good. But for sure now they are in the wintercluster, so we do not want to disturb them to most and stress them. So, we opened the colonies, gentle and took out a frame with feed, scaping a sampling.

All this for the forensics, to confirm the hypothesis.

This project is so exciting and will bring a lot of new results to the surface.

Flemming Vejsnæs

Great to have a car

The colonies in Denmark have been treated for varroa mites, the main killer of honey bee colonies. We know we did treat well during the season with organic treatments. We finished feeding and the bees have slowly started to have what we call “loose” winter cluster. On sunny days with the sun on the bee boxes, the bees do fly out and we even see them collect pollen during those warmer days. The colonies look very fine and strong and we expect them to come into the new season well. Continue reading “Great to have a car”

Time to clean up!

Denmark. Actually, we already did 2 weeks ago. We did sample in 4 apiaries this season. It became 10 samplings. Between the lines some had 11 sampling, and even more between the line in one Danish apiary we continue to sample 13 times, just to have that number in our records. It has been very exciting to belong to one of the 4 pilot countries in this project. Samples were taken every 2th week very regular during the season. In total this gave 604 samples of pollen, beeholdtubes, apistrips, beebread and a single time honey sample as well.

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INSIGNIA at the world beekeeping congress

Norman Carreck presented the INSIGNIA project in front of the world’s beekeepers and scientists at the Apimondia congress running in Montreal in September. The aim of Apimondia is to connect science and beekeepers all over the world. More than 5.000 participants took part in the 5 days congress. Several parallel sessions on exciting beekeeping issues are discussed. More than 500 posters were presented. A huge exhibition on beekeeping material attracted lot of beekeepers. And the beekeeping world award, showed how competitive beekeepers are to produce the very best products on honey, mead, wax, inventions, books etc. Technical tours and visits are taking place as well. This is the right place to disseminate the INSIGNIA project, discuss and getting response.
* Flemming Vejsnæs

35 kg of pollen per year

Do bee colonies make pollen stores? Yes, they do!

One of our old very valued scientists in Denmark Orla Svendsen long time ago made the nice picture with a big pollen bag on the roof of a bee colony to illustrate the consumption/need of pollen as protein supply for a production honeybee colony. Literature claim different values, but he claimed a colony needs around 35 kg a year. Sjef van der Steen (personal comments) did some very nice calculations on this subject that does support this saying 30-35 kg. This is a lot. Continue reading “35 kg of pollen per year”

Arrivals of samples

Pollen, beebread, and beehold tube samples from Denmark arrived at the lab of CIMO/IPB on Wednesday, after a two day-day trip. Samples arrived in good conditions. Now they are stored at -20 C awaiting for DNA extraction.
Alice Pinto

Shit happens!

Yes, that happens. 6th sampling period starts today. In Denmark, we try to do the sampling on Fridays. So, this morning in one of the test apiaries we went out to mount the pollen trap. Shit happens. We did forget to unmount the traps. So, two traps where active for more then 10 days. One colony gave 1176 gram of pollen and the neighbor one gave 753 grams of pollen. This showing us that the last sampling period has been very active and productive for the colony. Our experience is that we of cause need flight condition with nice weather. But if we compare. Then colonies that are not in balance, we see little or no pollen collection. Could be a queen less colony. We have areas now where the lack of flowering plants now is so low, that this is a hindrance for further pollen collection.

Notice the difference in the colors of the two colonies.

Never mind, mistake done, let us enjoy the beauty and variety of pollen in bees’ colonies.


Latvija ir Insignia projekta dalibniece

Insignia recently got presented in the Latvian Beekeepers Magazine “Biskopis”. The association has 3.200 beekeepers, but even additional copies were distributed with the country. In total there are 4.200 beekeepers having 102.000 colonies. Main flow is oilseed rape, lime tree, clover, heather etc.
Latvia is an important part of the citizen science in year 2. Latvia is our most north situated beekeeping. Very mixed landscape, with lot of forest areas and intense farming.
Valters Brusbardis

Link to the beekeeper magazine