Arctic beekeeper taking part in INSIGNIA

At the Nordic Baltic Bee Research meeting in February in Oslo, I did meet Sissel Goodgame. A Norwegian female beekeeper showing the most wonderful pictures of her new home in the artic close to some of the northernmost part of Norway. Close to 1.800 km north of the capital Oslo in Norway. Same distance as from Copenhagen to Rome. Showing the extend of Norway to the north. Very close to the Russian border. Nature is wild, clean, unpolluted, rough, and amazing. From the 17th of May there is 24 hours daylight. Everything is close to nature. Sissel and her husband moved from Bergen to the new place. Since there is no varroa in the northern part of Norway, Sissel had to buy new colonies and transport them on a trailer over 1700 km. Long distance transport!

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Instruction videos ready

Two instruction videos are now on the road in English version. Sorry the Danish accent, but this is how it is. The Danish translation is ready and the Austrian one will be added very soon. The other countries will translate as soon as possible. So now we just need April to turn up and get started.

It was quiet a big challenge to shoot the instruction videos in Denmark in the beginning of march. Lucky, we had no snow, so we could pretend is was summer. But even this was very difficult, because we had the worst windy weather condition since long, with heavy storms and rain. Rain and rain and rain. And yes, cold as well. Bees did not like it for sure. But we had to do it!
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T-shirt born on the backseat!

Born on the backseat!

After an exciting and successful annual meeting in Almeria a small group went to Granada to have a look on this very beautiful and historical city. Especially the historic Alhambra is very recommendable. We continued to evaluate our meeting. And suddenly one said: “We should make a citizen’s science t-shirt”. “Yeah, we want a t-shirt”. A t-shirt to show we are a team and a t-shirt to promote INSIGNIA and even maybe a t-shirt for our citizens science apiculturist.

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Keeping the Nordic Baltic countries updated


At the end of January 2020, the annual Nordic-Baltic Apicultural research symposium took place in Oslo, Norway. It is a special meeting, where beekeeping organization people, extensionist and scientist from the Nordic Baltic countries meet to update each other and to create common projects. INSIGNIA made a presentation on the INSIGNIA project, explaining the background and the aim and perspectives of INSIGINA. The very first results from the Danish apiaries were presented. Very exciting results and very good response the audience. Especially presenting the citizen science set up for 2020 showing a simpler setup and easier than in 2019. Several countries express the hope that the project will continue after the pilot project will finish and are ready to join as well if possibly. Conclusion, the project is well received and accepted by society.

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