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

The danish pollentrap

The main aim of INSIGNIA is the citizen science protocol for honeybee colony as bio-sampler for pesticides. But to reach that goal, loot of activities is going on. How to sample the pollen? In Denmark we have been working with a pollen and propolis group for 2 years already, when we got involved in INSIGNIA. All other countries used the famous front yellow pollen trap. All agreed on this is not the best one, but it works. For us, it was natural to follow our own route. The development of a new pollen trap that we got inspiration on in Switzerland. We did adjust it; we feel we did improve it and we did fit it to the Danish types of hives. We made a version 1, did test it all the summer and found mistakes. It was very exciting to involve the beekeepers in our project, and we talked hours about suggested improvements. We did recruit all our citizens scientist within this pollen group. With the INSIGNIA project we made a version 2. The one presented on the video. A very nice side-effect of the INSIGNIA project. See the result in this video.

Deformed wing virus

In the INSIGNIA project, we do look very closely into the colonies as a natural part of the project. At the last sampling we found Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) in one of the INSIGNIA colonies. DWV is associated to a heavy varroa load. In this case we saw several bees with DWV, indicating that the colony did overwinter with to high mite load. Asking the beekeeper, we recognized that he has been experimenting last year using fewer treatments.  As new treatment he used oxalic acid evaporation in December. Normally we regard an oxalic acid tricking as very effective in the time of bloodless colonies. Either the evaporation was not effective or there was a relatively large amount of varroa in the colony end December. Normally we say that having DWV in the colony, it is too late to threat. Anyway, beekeeper decided to make a total brood removal in the colony, to see if it is possibly to make it healthy.
Flemming Vejsnæs

10 kg day

INSIGNIA in Denmark are using production colonies. Spring this year has been very special. Early and very intense. Today was a 10 kg day, telling us that several Danish colonies did gain 10 kg of nectar during this one day of flow. This is unusual. We do already now see the first tendency of swarming condition in some colonies. So intense flow also indicate that we will get a swarm year.  Next sampling can start in 4 days.

First sampling in Denmark

The first sampling window was during the period of 9th to the 12th of May. The point is to kind of choose the good weather forecast day here in the springtime. We did choose Friday but must admit that Saturday would have been the perfect day. We had problems colleting enough pollen, but we did manage. And there are still problems to find surplus of pollen here in the springtime. Seem that it is all used for feed to the brood. We have a nice setup now, after lot of discussion and small changes. On good flight days we have to say that it is crowded at the beeholdtube entrances.
Take a look on the time-lapse video, we did shorten it down to 3 min, but in real life we talk about a sampling time of 30 min. At the end the bees were no so happy, since it was starting to get cloudy and windy. Take a look and get an impression on the work we do at year 1.
Flemming Vejsnæs

Problems – just needs to be solved!

Some nice side effects are discovered within the insignia project. Due to the test setup, the entrance is restricted to an entrance of about 1,5 cm on the entrance. This works very nicely. The bees get used to it within few days. But if you are using an open bottom board, with a netting, making it possibly for the bees to interact, then we did see that some bees, that did not hit the entrance right away, did get stuck under the bottom board. If we did close the open bottom board the problem disappears or if we event made it impossibly for the bees to direct interact, the same happen. Continue reading “Problems – just needs to be solved!”