INSIGNIA: Applied science with impact

The INSIGNIA study aims to be applied science with impact. The prerequisite of impact is sharing knowledge with stakeholders. The INSIGNIA stakeholders are on one hand the European beekeepers and on the other hand the beekeepers’ organizations and the lobby/pressure groups on bees-bees welfare-pesticide-environmental-interaction-pollination-conservation. The latter stakeholders are informed by regular notes about the achievements and progress we are making in the INSIGNIA pilot study. The beekeepers will be informed via the European beekeepers’ magazines.

Today the first note to the beekeepers’ organizations and lobby/pressure groups have been sent. The notes to the beekeepers magazines will follow soon.

Sjef van der Steen

Sample checking and processing

All samples collected by our citizen scientists have to go through the hands of each country’s national coordinator prior to shipping them to the corresponding labs in Greece, Spain and Portugal. The national coordinator checks the information on the sample bags (sample ID, the sample date and the bee colony from which the sample stems from) and compares it to our backup system (LimeSurvey answers). Afterwards, the sample processing takes place as it was described in a previous post:

Part of the pollen samples from Austria ready to be analysed for botanical origin by the Portuguese lab.
Part of the pollen samples from Austria ready to be analysed for pesticide residues by the Greek lab.

Kristina Gratzer

Honey and wax samples to compare results

Our citizen scientists were asked to sample some honey of their last honey harvest to compare the results to those of the pollen analyses. An alternative option was to cut out about 5 x 5 cm pieces of the honey combs. Latter has the advantage of not only honey, but also beeswax samples. Analyzing beeswax and honey are also common matrices to learn more about pesticide residues or pollen sources. Let’s see, what we will find out.

Three honey samples from an Austrian INSIGNIA beekeeping site (photo used with permission by Gruber J.).

Kristina Gratzer

Choosing the right pen is everything

The samples on the picture came from a very reliable and motivated citizen scientist (CS) but during the checking process of samples through the national coordinator, we recognized that the used pen got blurred during sample transportation. Miss-matching samples are a catastrophe for the labs and the future results! This is the reason, why it is so important to have a backup system and to stay in close contact with the citizen scientists. Within the INSIGNIA project, every CS  answers an online LimeSurvey questionnaire after each sampling date dealing with sample IDs, the date of the sample collection, phenology, possible problems, colony strength etc… With the help of this system, it was possible to assign each sample the right sample ID, bee colony and the right sample date.

Nevertheless: CHOOSE THE RIGHT PEN!! 🙂

Illegible sample bags

Kristina Gratzer

INSIGNIA and Murphy’s law

According to Murphy’s law “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong” or in this case, “whatever can break down, will break down”. Last week we had some thunderstorms in Graz (Austria). The stormy weather was the reason, why we were surprised by an adapter, that was ripped in several pieces, the next morning.  As the “outside tubes” were also gone, we had to insert new ones.  Luckily and thanks to Duck tape, the broken adapter could be fixed and mounted very quickly.

Broken adapter: a storm was the reason why the “outside tubes” disappeared and why the adapter broke down.
Broken Adapter

Kristina Gratzer