What are those INSIGNIA’S DOING?

Sometimes it can be difficult to have an overview on what is going on in a project. Follow Sjef van der Steen on this video tour in one of our apiaries explaining in detail what will start during this and next week in the INSIGNIA project.

INSIGNIA field test year 1 (2019). Year 1 field test is performed in Denmark, Austria, England and Greece.

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Sociological Aspects of INSIGNIA

As part of the INSIGNIA project, we are also conducting a sociological portion and the interviews with the Citizen Science beekeepers are underway! We are looking to gain a deeper understanding of the expectations and experiences of the beekeepers in hopes of improving their participation experience in the second year as well as building upon their hands-on knowledge of using the novel sub-sampling devices in order to keep improving them.

We will be interviewing Citizen Science beekeepers in Austria, the United Kingdom, and Denmark throughout April and May, with follow-up interviews in June and July, to see how their experiences and needs change throughout the season. It is a great opportunity for our team to meet, interact and create a space for voicing concerns for the people on the ground that are making this project possible! We would also like to thank all the beekeepers for their hospitality and for taking the time to chat with us!

Enjoying some coffee and biscuits over a nice conversation! In this portion of the interview we ask the Citizen Science Beekeepers to rank the cards in order of relevance to the question: Which aspects of INSIGNIA’s data collection process are most important?

Written by Sarah Rose Bieszczad

Colony 3 – No pollen trap but Beehold tubes!

Following an idea from an Austrian citizen scientist (thanks Andi!), I went to the workshop in the basement of university today, to modify a sliding gate hive entrance. In INSIGNIA, the third monitoring colony is used for Apistrips, beebread collection and the Beehold tubes. In contrast to colony 1, no pollen trap is installed, and hence no adapter can be placed to hold the tubes at the hive entrance. Therefore I made four holes in the sliding gate, to fit the two Beehold tubes (way in for the bees) and the two dummy tubes (way out for the bees).

Modified sliding gate hive entrance for INSIGNIA monitoring colony 3: Make 4 holes for the tubes, the rest of the entrance is bee tight!

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How do we do it? – APIStrips

Is it possible to analyze the pesticides inside a beehive without taking the pollen nor the beebread, and with a passive sampling strategy? The INSIGNIA members think it is.

Tenax® is a material that adsorbs molecules onto its surface, providing information about the contaminants in a certain environment. It would be enough to glue it to a plastic strip placed inside the hives for a certain amount of time to get information about the pesticides in contact with the bees. The problem, however, is that Tenax® is commercialized as a fine powder.  Bees try to remove it from their hives and, usually, they succeed.

After testing out many different materials and means to glue Tenax® to their surfaces, a different approach was adopted. Tenax® can be dissolved in dichloromethane, changing its granular appearance.

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ApiStrips arrived and will be send out to participants!

There were some things missing in the first package sent to INSIGNIA participants… Now the ApiStrips are ready. These strips contain TENAX, a substance that is adsorbing substances that bees bring into the hive. The strips are placed in all three test colonies, and remain in those for two weeks. We recommend to place the strips in central beelane (of the lower box). For mounting we recommend a wire (or bent paper clip, as shown in the picture below). Please use unique wires for each ApiStrip. After sampling, wrap ApiStrip in aluminium foil and store in labeled sample bags in the freezer.

ApiStrip and bent paper-clip to be mounted in central bee lane in the colony. Size is 5 cm x 10 cm.

The first shipment of material to citizen scientists!

In the last days the parcels for citizen scientists were packed! Austrian citizen scientists all have their own pollen traps, so the other material was packed and send together with the picture manual to participants. Among others, it contains the sample bags, beehold tubes and the adapter for placing the beehold tubes in front of the pollen trap. Straws (for harvesting beebread) and stickers to label colonies are also provided. Though not complete yet, the picture below shows the content of the box for Austrian citizen scientists. Aluminium foil and disposable medical gloves may be added too!

Some of the content of the boxes shipped to Austrian Citizen scientists today.
Surprisingly the boxes fit all the materials! Later they are stuffed with fill material and ready to be shipped.

Insignia study setup 2019

In 2019, four different methods to sample pesticides and pollen diversity will be tested and compared in four countries (Austria, Denmark, England, Greece). The tests will be made by citizen scientists, which need three honey bee colonies on one apiary.

Here is a very rough scheme of the study setup!

In 2019, three colonies will be used per apiary. Two of them will have pollen traps installed, the third one will be sampled with different methods.

Innovation needed within INSIGNIA

Lot of innovation needed due to the diversity of bee-equipment all over Europe. Like for instance in Denmark, the bottom board has the pollen trap build into the board. Anyway, how to install the behold tubes in those bottom boards. Make an additional frame and close the traditional entrance. So easy? Leave the old entrance open for a day and then close and bees will very easy find the now beehold entrance.

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Testing beehold tubes and adapter in Austria before sending it to participants

The materials needed for participants are currently packed and shipped before Easter. Good chance to test the beehold tubes and adapter! As you can see, I put some tape around the adaptor to first make it more stable, and second reduce light in the adapter. I decided not to use black tape, as I was afraid of overheating in summer.

This is what is needed for colony 1. Pollen trap should be installed. Then insert tubes in the adaptor – two beehold tubes (insert from outside, this will be the bees entrance) and two exit tubes from inside (these are ordinary plastic tubes without active substances and serve as exit for the bees). Click on image for full size picture!

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