1st of April 2020. Maybe we delayed a bit to get ready, coronavirus and all, but here we are! And it is not a joke! Here are the locations of the Greek Citizen Scientists for the INSIGNIA study 2020! A big thanks to the friend beekeepers participating!
All materials needed by the CSs are ready to be posted. Stickers for the colony identification, labelled small pollen sample bags with everybody’s name, Apistrips in their bags also with a paper clip and labelled, larger bags also labelled for each individual sampling round (SR), pencils for writing and marking on the labels, extra aluminum foil to wrap up the used Apistrips and measuring caps. And GOOD LUCK!
First results analysis of Year 1, allowed a decision taken by the whole consortium about the best matrixes to be ring tested during Year 2 in 9 European countries and 9 apiaries per country. Therefore for Year 2, two (2) colonies will be used per apiary, and apistrips together with pollen from pollen traps will be sampled biweekly, from April to September 2020. The countries participating in Year 2 are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and UK.
The map of the locatons were the participating apiaries are is right here!
Sunday morning spent in the lab preparing the last Greek INSIGNIA samples!
Do we really work for the sake of SCIENCE? Are we science-holics? It is really important to have an answer to pacify my mind! All Sunday morning spent in the lab preparing the samples, in order to have them ready for shipping Monday morning to analytical laboratories. And this is not the only thing, crazy scientists do! We also travel very far (900 km in one day) during the weekend, because there is no other time available, to meet the Citizen Scientists and collect the samples in dry ice (!), transferring the samples next day to the lab (Sunday of course)! And, hello !, the next morning (Monday of course) the financial officer tells you that you are not eligible for reimbursement of your travel expenses because it was a WEEKEND! If I’m not in love with science, what then???
But the story has another dimension! The citizen scientist’s products! The samples! I want to remember only the ones really making a great effort to collect as many samples as possible, write the correct information on the labels, pack them properly and all together in one bag per DATE of COLLECTION! Like in the pictures attached! With such a perfect collaboration, yes, I can spent my weekends travelling and in the lab! Thank you NA, GS and PA for all the good work!
Hope to work with you next year as well! Now lets wait to see the analysis results to understand what is happening out there!
Monitoring for pesticides through different matrixes in a honey bee colony is a sensible way to see what kind and quantities of pesticides are used in the field and eventually end up in the honey bee colony.
From the other side, monitoring the development of the colony and the bees behaviour is a way also to see the effects of the pesticides. Remote monitoring and precision apiculture is very much in ‘fashion’ these days. Temperature, humidity and colony weight are the most common features in a remote censoring, vibrations and sounds are getting in to the game as well, more and more.
Here is a remote monitoring system for temperature, humidity and sounds, could they tell us something about bees’ reaction to the pesticides entering the colony?
The colours of pollen do much the RAINBOW! Different plants, different pollen grains, different colour of pollen and aromas, this is the paradise of bees’ life! But it is not only the beauty in the colours of pollen as you see in this combination picture.
The more colourful your pollen is, the more nutritious it is! and this has been proven many years ago. Of cource there are exceptions and there are some plants that can be very very nutritious alone, as the Rubus sp. for example, but usually mixed pollen is better for the bees health as well as for humans. I suspect that you eat pollen, right? Think that 2 teaspoons of pollen and 1 teaspoon of honey every morning can give you the energy you need for the whole day!
On our way to meet the Citizen Scientist we pass from Volos (see previous post), where we saw this beautiful ancinet ship ‘ARGO’. Maybe, the treasure for ancient Jason and his Argonauts was the Golden Fleece (kept in Colchis by the father of Medea) but for us it was the pollen and bee bread samples colelcted for 5 weeks by the Citizen Scientists. And for sure we did not travel to collect them by ‘ARGO’ as Jason did during the mythical times! Ouaou, isn’t the right moment to say that Science meets History?
Back to the laboratory though the next day, it took us several hours to separate and register the samples, as well as to prepare them to be sent to the analytical laboratory. Laborious task indeed but pleasant, as you can see 1, what samples the CS collected at every time point; 2, the way the samples were stored and prepared; and 3, how much effort is required to have these samples ready for analysis! Colours of pollen so different! We just hope the results will be great and informative!
Pollen and bee bread are very sensitive to high temperatures and light , meaning that it is important that they are kept in cold storage immediately after the moment they are collected till the moment they will be analyzed for pesticide residues as well as for their plant origin using molecular methods. Therefore the most promising method of transferring the pollen and bee bread samples from the CSs’ places to the National Coordinators’ Lab, in our case at the Division of Apiculture in Nea Moudania Greece, is to transfer them inside a big box filled with dry ice!
And this is what we did. We travel to the place of 3 out of 4 Greek Citizen Scientists in order to collect the samples they have been collected from their 3 colonies since almost the beginning of May. July is the month for thymus honey ccollection (from Thymus vulgaris mainly, but also from Thymus capitatus, Thymus atticus or Τhymus striatus) in areas near the see but also Castanea honey (from Castanea sativa) collection in the mountains.
Great opportunity to meet the Citizen Scientist, discuss with them and travel around in beautiful places as well as historical places. Because you cannot miss stopping in Thermopiles, where the Leonidas with his 300 Spartans and other 700 Thespieis, faced the Persian huge army at 480 BC!
So here we were, almost early evening, when the 2nd sample set arrived to meet the samples already in the box with the dry ice, secure.
Then we enjoyed a relaxing walk in the port of Volos a beautiful city in Magnesia region, from where the ancient Jason started his trip with ‘Argo’, but more on this in the next post.
Our tool boxes are ready to be posted to Citizen Scientists! They have everything, at least for the start. Only towel paper is missing! Note that 2 pollen traps are also included. Unfortunately a third pollen trap did not fit in the box!
Hello! We tried out the collection of beebread with the use of a normal straw, cut in the midle. As you can see it is easy to collect form 1 cell, but then each one you add it gets more difficult. we think that up to 5 cells is ok and the weight of this bee bread is between 0.3 and 0.45 g.
Therefore, 3 straws can be used to sample 5 cells each, even 6, from each colony.