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

 

INSIGNIA creating networks across Europe.

INSIGNIA is an exciting project, that has run so nice and smoothly. Within our consortium we have a great team spirit. We have become connected, involved, concerned, developed, creative, inspiring etc. I could keep writing. The short story, networks and friendships are created for lifetime. New projects arise due to constructive talks and discussion. New questions asked.

Continue reading “INSIGNIA creating networks across Europe.”

Watching my INSIGNIA presentation at the COLOSS Asia Japan Okinawa conference on 25 March 2021.

At 6.40 h Dutch time, my pre-recorded presentation at the COLOSS Asia conference was on. I think the presentation was well-received, given the questions about the impact of the landscape on pesticides and details of pollen metabarcoding and protocol development.

To me it was a special experience, watching my presentation. I heard a strong Dutch accent, a lot of gesticulation with my hands, stumbling over complex word combination as “this coincides with the Covid pandemic”  and too rapid speech. This despite my being aware of this when I recorded the talk. So, what you think about how things look and sound like, and how they look and sound is different… Nothing new, this wisdom is already as old as the world, but to me, it was good to be pressed with my nose on these facts, and a strong learning moment.

Although I would have loved to go to Japan to present INSIGNIA in person in the Asian world, I am a big fan of online conferences. However, what I miss in these online conferences is the chat with participants with a special interest in the subject. In the physical world, most information is exchanged during coffee and lunch in bilateral contacts, as not everybody is keen on raising their hand in public, which is fully understandable. Therefore one must develop these kind of chatroom talks or features after the meeting or during the lunch break.

 

Jozef van der Steen

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”

Bee-monitoring for microplastics

By Amadeo Fernandez-Alba (Spain) Flemming Vejsnæs (Denmark) & Sjef van der Steen (The Netherlands) – The international INSIGNIA group

Microplastics are everywhere. The term microplastic is given to all micrometre (thousandth of a millimetre) sized plastic fragments. These small-sized plastic fragments come from cosmetics and industry, called primary microplastics, and also from the degradation of the enormous amounts of plastics all over the world, called secondary microplastics. Furthermore, there are also synthetic fibres, twisted with wool, cotton or cellulose used in clothing. Due to wear and washing, small parts of these fibres also end up in the environment and are also considered microplastics.

Continue reading “Bee-monitoring for microplastics”