Propolis as a matrix for environmental pollution

Propolis is one of the apicultural products used in medicine and cosmetics because of its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiinflammatory and antitumour properties. Still is one of the bee products, for which very little information is available in terms of its capacity to absorb pollutants from the environment (e.g. heavy metals) or agricultural and veterinary chemicals.

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Pollen sample transportation ensuring cool chain!

Maybe you have not realized that is already 2 full months since we collected the 1st INSIGNIA 2020 sample of pollen and Apistrips! Yes! indeed! and the samples were stored to Citizen Scientists’ freezers  till now!

However,  the time has come for the first set of samples to be sent to National Coordinators labs, for little processing, checking, homogenizing, and then shipped to laboratories for  analysis,

But let’s take in from the beginning. Once the sample of pollen or an Apistrip is collected, it is placed in its own labeled plastic bag , and all samples together from each sampling round in one big labeled bag and stored in -20! See below the pre labeled bags which were sent to Citizen Scientists.

So far so good. Second and very important step is the transfer of the filed bags of pollen  to the National Coordinators laboratories in each country. How on earth, can we retain the cool chain required for the pollen to keep its DNA properties intact?

Well, we have a simple answer! Keep the pollen as frozen or cold as possible. Below we show you how we did it in Greece!

Styrofoam boxes with 4 freezing blocs were sent to each CSs, who packed the pollen between the newly frozen blocks and returned them via courier company to the National Coordinator’s laboratory. That way, the samples travelled secure, quickly and retain the cool chain for max 2 days of travel. Furthermore, the courier service was offered by the National Coordinator’s lab, in this case by the Department of Apiculture.

Now we do hope for excellent results!

Written by Fani Hatjina, National Coordinator, Greece

INSIGNIA Year 2 in Greece has been launched!

This is the weekend of the preparation/ initiation for the INSIGNIA year 2 study, in 9 countries in Europre, meaning fitting the pollen traps and, most importantly, introducing the 1st set of ApiStrips in the 2 colonies.

But you know, it is EASTER time in Greece and in all Orthodox countries, and beekeeping tasks these days are even more difficult with the COVID-19 restrictions! So, what is more important, preparing the colonies one day before Easter or just forget about it and  celebrate Easter! Lets see then!


Ouaou! it is incredible, but they did it! At least 3 of the Citizen Scientists in Greece they install the material in the colonies , on Easter Friday and Saturday!,  I am sure the rest did it as well, but I have here the proof of the 3 first ones only. What can I say! A big bravo and look farward to collaborate with you guys! Don’t you love the Nature in Spring?

Fani Hatjina,  National Coordinator for Greece

Video conferencing and telemeetings are not that dificult after all!

Nine Citizen Scientists, plus one extra, the National Coordinator and of course our Project Leader, Jozef Van Der Steen , gathered together but experiencing social distancing, to discuss everything related to the start of the INSIGNIA study 2020 in Greece! So, how we did it? Like everybody else! Video conferencing! Technology in hand!

Amazing how easy people can come close, even if they are sitting in their living room, late in the evening thousands and thousands KM away! Well, we had some technical problems, not everybody managed to join in , but we talked about what we had in our agenda.

After all, it was not that difficult, or bad, It was successful! Thank you Jozef for your patience in our Greek discussions! We promised to do it again sometime in early summer, now that we know how to do it!

In the picture, Jozef is also showing his new T shirt wiht INSIGNIA logo on it! A product from Flemming and Jozef! We definately going to get some of those for everybody!

Written by Fani Hatjina

National Coordinator for Greece!

Greek Citizen Scientists are ready for INSIGNIA study 2020!

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!

Written by Fani Hatjina,

Natinal Coordinator INSIGNIA study

81 beekeepers -Citizen Scientists around Europe ready to start the INSIGNIA study Year 2!

INSIGNIA study Year 2

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!

The map of Europe with all locations of the experimental colonies, for INSIGNIA Year 2 study

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In love with Science!

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!

Fani Hatjina,
National Coordinator for Greece

Remote monitoring for pesticides effects?

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?

Still to be determined!

Fani Hatjina