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.
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.
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!”
Pollen – INSIGNIA need pollen!
This spring is different from the last years. Seems that spring is coming earlier an earlier. We had a warm early period. This year everting started 2 weeks earlier. Beekeepers were of course concerned. Will the bees become ready? And yes, colonies looked very nice and winter losses seems to be low. The rape fields are ready now. Dandelion all over. And then we got frost during night time. Not good for the apples! Cold wind from the east. Bees stopped flying! But as always, there are some moments every day, where the bees do fly and collect pollen. Continue reading “Pollen – INSIGNIA need pollen!”
Denmark right now
Denmark is a heavy farming country. More than 60% of the surface is cultured landscape by farmers. In May the country is more or less yellow. You will see it when flying over the country. This year we have around 160.000 hectare of rape fields. Rape is a very good nectar and pollen flower give the main flow in Denmark. Rape honey is a very light and creamy honey. Danish customers love this honey. On the other side, it is a very intensive crop. From the putting the seed into the soil to the harvest, on average the rape culture is sprayed up to 6 times with pesticides.
How to store pollen for analysis
Pollen sampling by citizen scientists (CS) is underway in several countries. How to store the pollen until molecular analysis? How to transport the pollen between the CS and the lab? These are important questions addressed by INSIGNIA. Storage and transportation will influence DNA quality and quantity, both important features for reliable botanical identification via metabarcoding. INSIGNIA compared storage in ethanol with freezing. It turns out that storage in ethanol assures good DNA quality quantity, which makes storage and transportation easier.
The very first sampling
Even the first pollen samples and beebread samples will be collected in 1 weeks’ time, we did test the different methods in Denmark already. Just to see.
We need from each colony 30 gram of pollen. No problem.
We need 3 grams of beebread collected via straws. This means that we need to use 60 cells in the colony. This is the most time-consuming part of the sampling.
Introducing the Apistrips and the Beeholdtubes are very easy. No problems for the bees, but as usual, they need to get use to the new situation, but after some moments, everything is like it use to be.
We are looking forward to next weeks “real” sampling.
The 4 apiaries in Denmark
In Denmark we have 4 apiaries. We are lucky that we have a pollen collecting group, all using the same bottom board for pollen collection. That make the test setup a bit easier.
Apiary no 1. This is the beekeeper’s association’s apiary. Colonies do belong to the association, but the colonies are run by a private beekeeper. This apiary is just beside one of our very heavy motorways. Industrial area and medium intensive farming. Polluted area.
Apiary no. 2. At a beekeeper’s place. Medium intensive farming area. Relative intense pig production. Moor area, one of the biggest in Denmark, but still with farming. Polluted area.
Apiary no. 3. Is at a beekeeper’s summerhouse. Big forest area. If we would move the colonies just 1 km it would be an organic apiary. No pollution.
Apiary no. 4. Was mentioned in an earlier blog. At an organic beekeeper’s place and therefore expected no pollution.