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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Picture Manuals for Austrian Citizen Scientists

The materials needed to participate in INSIGNIA will be send out soon to citizen scientists! Here you can see the picture manual for instruction. It includes a step by step guidance on how to take and store samples, as well as a phenology list of important pollen sources.

For Austrian citizen scientists, the document was translated to German and a spiral binding folder was produced.

The British Beekeepers Association Spring Convention


First day at the British Beekeepers Association Spring Convention at Harper Adams University, Shropshire, UK. Attended by some 2,000 or so people, this is a three day event with a lecture programme ranging from beginner beekeepers talks to the very scientific, this year with speakers from the UK, USA, Greece, Spain, Ireland and Italy, workshops on a variety of practical topics, and a one day trade show. Several members of the INSIGNIA Consortium have given talks at the conference over the last few years. Today Norman Carreck gave a talk about “science for the beekeeper” showing the importance of using the results of bee research to improve our understanding of bee biology, and hence to help the beekeeper to understand bee behaviour and improve our beekeeping. He used as an example the COLOSS CSI Pollen project and introduced the new INSIGNIA project to the audience. Two of the UK beekeeper volunteers who will be talking part this season are present at the convention.

Insignia fighting the weather

During the week, Sjef and Flemming wanted to produce the instruction videos based on the picture manual. In Denmark, yes Denmark, where spring is still only slowly coming and march until now has been the most rainy march until now – ever. So rain and temperature around 5 degrees, was the work conditions. During the practical filming we needed to put up a tent to protect for the rain. You never know the weather predictions this time of the year. Colonies where gentle, not flying a lot. We manage to make our recordings, even we did freeze during the day.

We got lot of experiences. We nearly made all the mistakes we could make. We had to redo the videos several times. But we made improvements and found out some mistakes.

Sjef and Flemming

Personal view of the Apimondia symposium

A personal view of the Apimondia symposium held from 13-14 February in Rome by Sjef van der Steen

This is my personal impression, not describing the presentations, talks and posters but my interpretation. The note will therefore be biased towards my personal interests and work-fields. For detailed information, you can find the abstracts in the Apimondia symposium abstract book of this event. Many veterinarians attended the meeting, showing the interest of veterinarians in bee health and the environmental impact of bee well being and the direction of Apimondia in this. The Federation of Veterinarians of Europe presented a veterinarian approach of bee disease. To outline the position of honeybees in veterinary, honeybees are considered to be MUMS (Minor User = Minor Species). The FAO was present its SPGs (Sustainable development Goals) in which beekeeping plays an important role in banning poverty. Continue reading “Personal view of the Apimondia symposium”

Home-made Beebread Collector

The INSIGNIA project will involve the beekeeper citizen scientists collecting pollen samples using pollen traps, but the scientists have concerns about possible degradation of chemical residues in the pollen during the sampling period, storage and transport. For this reason, we will also be testing two alternative methods of collecting pollen, an innovative passive device, of which more later, and the collection of beebread from the colonies. Beebread is pollen collected by the bees as pollen pellets, and then packed into broodcombs for the colony to use. In the packing process enzymes are introduced by the bees so that its composition changes slightly, thus improving its storage properties. Previous methods of sampling beebread mainly involve damaging brood combs, but in the latest issue of Bee World, Giulio Loglio from Italy with colleagues from Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale del Lazio e della Toscana “M. Aleandri” and other INSIGNIA colleagues describe a low cost beebread collector which can collect a sample without damaging the combs. This will be trialled in Year 1 of the INSIGNIA Project.
The article can be found here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0005772X.2018.1556905

Introducing INSIGNIA

Introducing INSIGNIA (environmental monitoring of pesticide use through honey bees)

By Norman Carreck and the INSIGNIA Consortium (https://www.insignia-bee.eu/)

In recent years, there has been much global concern about the plight of bees, which are exposed to many threats including habitat loss, pests and diseases, and environmental factors such as the use of agricultural pesticides and veterinary drugs. Concern about “Colony Collapse Disorder” and excessive losses of honey bee colonies has led scientists in many countries to carry out surveys of beekeepers to quantify those losses. This has established that losses of honey bee colonies, especially over winter, are often much higher than beekeepers consider to be acceptable. Establishing the cause of these losses is, however, much more difficult, and scientists agree that there is unlikely to be a single cause that applies in all years and in all areas, and that it is most likely that colony losses are a result of many interacting factors.

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Presenting INSIGNIA in Denmark


Denmark is one of the rather small beekeeping countries. But with more the 60 % of the country covered with agriculture, there are relatively good conditions for beekeeping. Having an annual average of 34 kg of honey pr. colony since 1986. Denmark having close to 140.000 colonies and 6.000 beekeepers. Commercial beekeeping is rather small, around 1 % of the beekeepers. Breeding Buckfast bees is the main breeding type of bees. Rape flowers are the main flow. INSIGNIA will run test apiaries in Denmark in year 1 and 2. INSIGNA was presented in the Danish Beekeepers Magazine (Tidsskrift for Biavl 1/2019)

Introducing INSIGNIA-danish bekeeper magazine