Propolis is one of the apicultural products used in medicine and cosmetics because of its antimicrobial, antioxidant, antiinflammatory and antitumour properties. Still is one of the bee products, for which very little information is available in terms of its capacity to absorb pollutants from the environment (e.g. heavy metals) or agricultural and veterinary chemicals.
It is not the aim of this blog to congratulate everybody on their birthday, but Sjef, if any, does deserve it. Happy birthday Sjef (23rd January). And remember 70 is just a number. Life is about passion. And you could not resist to continue our last 3 years pilot study using honeybees as bioindicators in the new consortium called INSIGNIA-EU. INSIGNIA-EU will run for the next 2,5 years. It is a tender put up by the EU with the title: Preparatory action for monitoring of environmental pollution using honeybees. It will run in all 27 EU countries in 2023 with at pilot study in 2022. This is a huge challenge that we will manage, because we are a very skilled, involved, and passionate team. We are simply like a family.
Sjef! The exciting journey does continue.
We all within the consortium wish you the very best. And, let us do it!
The new project INSIGNIA-EU got underway today with the virtual Kick Off Meeting, which was attended by members of the consortium, representatives of the European Commission Directorate Generals for the Environment and Health and Food Safety, members of the European Parliament, and representatives of several EU agencies including the European Food Safety Authority. Hosted by Vujadin Kovacevic of DG Environment, the meeting was introduced by Martin Hojsik MEP, of the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety who outlined the support of the Parliament for this wide ranging environmental study. Continue reading “Kick-Off Meeting for INSIGNIA-EU”
The recently completed INSIGNIA project “Environmental monitoring of pesticide use through honey bees” was designated as a “pilot project” with the primary aim of producing a tried and tested Guideline which could then be used as part of a much larger monitoring project covering the entire European Union. Continue reading “Farewell to INSIGNIA – Welcome to INSIGNIA-EU!”
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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