C*Sci2022 presented by the Citizen Science Association

 

This year, the C*Sci2022 conference will be held online from May 23-May 26. Registered parties will be able to join interesting discussions and have access to more than 100 posters and douzens of talks about a variety of citizen science projects around the world.

The opening keynote will be held by Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, who will give a talk on “Cultivating Science, Justice, and Action”

Of course, the INSIGNIA-EU team will also be part of the conference by presented a poster about the project (dowload the PDF poster here –> INSIGNIAPoster)

Be sure to sign up and learn more about citizen science.

Link to the conference website: https://citizenscience.org/c-sci-2022/csci2022-program-details/

 

Kristina Gratzer and Robert Brodschneider

Finally! The INSIGNIA-EU Pilot study has started

After all the time, the INSIGNIA-EU team has spent for the preparations, we have reached the moment for celebration of the INSIGNIA-EU pilot study start 2022. 

Today, May 19th until Sunday, May 22 marks the very first phase of the pilot study’s sampling process – the installation period.

Within this time period, a total of 15 participating citizen scientist beekeepers from Austria, Denmark and Greece will install the first matrices. Those will stay in the test hives for two weeks and be sampled within the sampling period of sampling round 1 (SR01).

Austria prepared a short, video guidance for the installation period:  Continue reading “Finally! The INSIGNIA-EU Pilot study has started”

Snack boxes for the team to enjoy the last meeting

On upcoming Friday, the Insignia team will meet virtually one last time to celebrate the successfull INSIGNIA study. And what do you need to have a good party? RIGHT! Snacks and drinks. Therefore, the Danish team members Flemming and Ole had the idea to ask all of the team members to send them typical snacks or drinks from their countries. Flemming and Ole further compiled them into one snack box and send one such box to each of us.

The result speaks for itself. 16 delicious snacks and drinks from 11 European countries in one box.

I can’t wait to actually taste them on Friday.

By Kristina Gratzer

New publication on pollen preservation methods for ITS2 metabarcoding

Look up for latest INSIGNIA paper, that was recently published in the Springer journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment. In this paper, we assessed how different methods of storing freshly-collected pollen from traps would influence its botanical identification by metabarcoding. We found out that the most citizen-scientist-friendly method of storing pollen with silica gel works very well for downstream metabarcoding applications. This finding will greatly facilitate future citizen-science studies.

Link to publication: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-021-09563-4

By Andreia Quaresma and M. Alice Pinto

Citizen Science briefly explained – German

What is Citizen Science and what has it to do with INSIGNIA?

Kristina Gratzer from the University of Graz explains in a mini-interview (German). More videos will follow.

English translation: 

Helmut: “Dear Kristina, what does citizen science mean?”

Kristina: “Very briefly, citizen science includes scientific projects that are either carried out completely or, in our case, with the help of laypersons.”

Helmut: “You conduct bee science… Have you experience with citizen science?”

Kristina: “Yes. Currently, we are working in a European Union project called Insignia. There, 82 beekeepers from 10 European countries bi-weekly have taken samples from their own bee colonies, Those samples were processed and further analysed for pesticides and pollen diversity in labs in Spain, Greece and Portugal. Just imagine, doing such large-scale sampling all by yourself and without the volunteers, this would be quite difficult and takes a lot of time.”

Helmut: “That means citizens are able to support science?”

Kristina: “Yes absolutely and the co-working is also enriching.”

By Kristina Gratzer

The INSIGNIA publication list is getting longer and longer…

Our new publication gives an overview of the INSIGNIA project and its citizen science approach, which was also presented during the 2020 Austrian Citizen Science Conference. 

If you are interested, enjoy reading.

The article is freely accessible through:

Brodschneider, R., Gratzer, K.,  Carreck, N.L., Vejsnaes, F., van der Steen, J. (2021) INSIGNIA: Beekeepers as citizen scientists investigate the environment of their honey bees. Proceedings of Austrian Citizen Science Conference, 14-16 September 2020, Vienna, Austria. Proceedings of Science, 393. https://doi.org/10.22323/1.393.0019

By Kristina Gratzer

A study from University of Graz demonstrates how beekeepers contribute to research as citizen scientists

Citizen science is becoming more and more popular these days, although no universal definition of the term exists. The most important aspects include the recruitment and training (or instruction) of volunteers – so-called citizen scientists. Even though citizen science has a long tradition in entomology and especially in the research on honey bees and bumblebees, the term has only been used for a relatively short time.

Researchers from the University of Graz for the first time ever investigated what motivates beekeepers to voluntary participate in a citizen science study like INSIGNIA. This specific group of citizen scientists was also asked what expectations they had from participating, which study aspects were easy or difficult for them and whether they saw added value from their participation.

The project can roughly be divided into two large parts. The first one served as a pilot study and was conducted from May to September 2019. A total of 16 beekeepers from four European countries (Austria, Denmark, UK and Greece), each with three bee colonies, took part. The aim was to identify the best suitable of four possible non-invasive sampling techniques. Part two of the project took place from May to September in 2020 and was based on the experiences of the previous year. A total of 82 volunteers from 10 European countries (the four mentioned, plus Belgium, Norway, Italy, Latvia, France, Ireland) took part and examined the environment –  each one with two of their colonies.

The beekeepers’ tasks included taking samples from two bee colonies every two weeks, as well as regular online documentation of the samplings, reporting the flowering plants in vicinity of the test apiaries, storage and transport of the samples, as well as answering a voluntary survey at the end of the 2020 season.

What have we learned about the citizen scientists?

Continue reading “A study from University of Graz demonstrates how beekeepers contribute to research as citizen scientists”

INSIGNIA 2019 – Austrian results published in popular article

Austrian results of last year’s INSIGNIA samplings were made public in the beekeeping journal “Bienen aktuell”.
In 2019, 5 citizen scientists with 3 hives each participated.
We found that APIStrips together with beebread are the most promising matrices for detecting pesticides in beehives.
Further, we’ve chosen APIStrips for 2020, as they turned out to be more user-friendly.
For metarbarcoding, pollen sampling was the most suitable method.
The pollen analysis revealed 61 plant families with Fabaceae, Rosaceae, Plantaginaceae, Ranunculaceae and Asteraceae showing the highest occurence, respectively.
A total of 84 different substances were found in Austrian samples with an average of 2.4 in APIStrip samples, 2.9 in beebread, 1.7 in pollen and 1.4 substances in Beehold tubes.
Let’s see what 2020 samples from 9 beekeepers with 2 hives each will reveal.
Austrian INSIGNIA 2019 results in Bienen aktuell, 9, S 17-20, 2020.

Kristina Gratzer

Collecting plants for science!

All INSIGNIA  samples are analysed for pesticides residues and pollen diversity.

Last year, it was only possible to assign latter to the taxonomic family level, as the reference DNA database was not reliable enough to draw conclusions on botanical genus or species level. To complete the database, the colleagues from the Instituto Politécnico de Bragança in Portugal asked us to collect fresh plants, known to be important for bees.

No sooner said than done! The University of Graz sampled more than 60 plant species, herbarized them and will send it to Alice Pinto and her team in Portugal this week for ITS 2 metabarcoding. The figure below shows Papaver rhoeas, Cotoneaster horizontalis, Allium schoenoprasum, Tilia cordata, Rosa multiflora, Trifolium pratense, Sambucus nigra, Aruncus dioicus and Robinia pseudoacacia. All important melliferious plants for bees.

Hopefully, this enables the assignment of pollen to lower taxonomic levels in year two of INSIGNIA.

Example of important bee plants.

Kristina Gratzer

Simple INSIGNIA estimation of colony size through beelanes

To estimate the colony strength, citizen scientists count the occupied beelanes in each hive for every sampling round.

How an occupied beelane looks from above. This example shows 4 occupied beelanes!
When the colony has more than one box, each occupied beelane is counted and a sum of beelanes from all boxes is made.

 

Robert Brodschneider & Kristina Gratzer