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.
To estimate the colony strength, citizen scientists count the occupied beelanes in each hive for every sampling round.
Robert Brodschneider & Kristina Gratzer
Austrian citizen scientist Matthias is proud to keep bees in all 23 city disctricts of Vienna! For INSIGNIA he has chosen an apiary at the eastend of the city. His beekeeping operation https://www.wiener-bezirksimkerei.at/ indeed offers different honeys from all boroughs. During sampling round 2, he filmed himself taking samples on one of the INSIGNIA hives!
Today, the Austrian beekeepers, the national coordinators and the study coordinator met virtually to get to know each other and to see how everybody looks like. Jozef van der Steen gave a short presentation to explain the main objectives of INSIGNIA and to present last year’s pesticides and pollen results.
Austrian citizen scientists were very interested and some open questions could be answered by the NatCos Robert Brodschneider and Kristina Gratzer as well as by Jozef van der Steen, who by the way. speaks extraordinary good German.
Today, also the first sampling period started. Within the next four days the APIStrips will be exchanged and pollen will be sampled in nine European countries simultaneously.
The participating citizen scientists in Austria were very curious about their results from INSIGNIA year 1. As we were curious too, we attempted to provide the results of the metabarcoding and pesticides analyses as quick as possible to them – right after receiving the raw data from the labs and after submitting them to the EU. Further, it was also important to us, to ensure anonymity for the participants. Therefore, each citizen scientist only got his/her individual results.
We decided to not only send out the raw data files, as they are rather difficult to interpret for non-scientists. Instead we performed individual and basic data analysis for all of the 5 participants of year 1 and we arranged them in an excel file with several tables.
The main page (see figure below) explains some basics of how to handle the document and links to all of the result-tables.
The study start for INSIGNIA 2020 is one month away, but we already shipped the tool boxes to the nine Austrian citizen scientists. The tool boxes include the majority of the materials needed for the INSIGNIA 2020 study. The materials are sufficient for 2 bee hives, 1 installation round (=study start) and 10 sampling rounds. The pictures below show the content.
Accompanying the scheme for the study set up, we also worked on an illustration for the detailed sampling scheme. The scheme will also be translated and send to the citizen scientists. Within the scheme, one sampling period of each sampling method is illustrated and the crucial steps are shown. Additionally, the phenology list with 30 plants identified to be very important bee plants across Europe and the sampling dates are shown.
Within year one of INSIGNIA, the ApiStrips were proven to be an excellent pesticide-sampling matrix. Therefore they will also be used in year two of the study.
As there is always room for improvement, the pesticides experts from the University of Almeria developed a new packaging for the strips. From now on, the strips will be wrapped in aluminum foil prior to pack them in a special plastic envelope. The citizen scientist has to remove the yellow strip and close the envelope like a letter-the envelope is tightly sealed. With this way, the contamination risk decreases and analyses will be improved. Furthermore, the strips are thinner than last year.
Kristina Gratzer and Maria Murcia Morales
To facilitate the understanding of our study design, we created an illustration describing the crucial points of the INSIGNIA 2020 study. The scheme will be translated into a total of 7 other languages and will be send to the participating citizen scientists.