Curiosity – is the main driver

From all the consortium we wish happy birthday to Sjef van der Steen, Netherlands on his 71 years birthday.

Sjef is the coordinator of the INSIGNIA project. Others would say: Why not just play golf? Sjef would reply: Why play golf, if you can run such an exciting project as INSIGNIA!

Happy birthday – 71 is just a number as long as you have curiosity on life.


INSIGNIA-EU meets with European Commission in Brussels…

A successful meeting has been held at the European Commission DG Environment, funders of INSIGNIA-EU, in Brussels, Belgium, attended by consortium members from 11 different countries, together with representatives of other European Commission bodies and the European Parliament. The results of the pilot studies carried out in three European countries during 2022, together with other preliminary investigations, were reported. These studies compared a range of different matrices to sample a wide range of different environmental pollutants. The most effective combination of matrices which have now been selected for implementation, together comprise an integrated, non-destructive sampling regime, which will in 2023 be carried out by citizen scientist beekeepers in their bee hives in all 27 EU countries throughout the season. In a few weeks a practical meeting will be held in Wageningen, Netherlands attended by the INSIGNIA-EU National Coordinators of each country to receive training in the sampling techniques to be used by their citizen scientists.

Santa is bringing APIStrips for Christmas

The preparation of the new APIStrips has officially begun at the University of Almería and the UAL team is working hard to have them ready on time. Next year, close to 6000 APIStrips will be needed in the monitoring, which means a lot of time and effort. But the first 400 are now ready! They are safely stored and waiting to be shipped to all national coordinators, who will distribute them to the citizen scientists prior to the first sampling dates. Continue reading “Santa is bringing APIStrips for Christmas”


An INSIGNIA video podcast at the Stones bar in Nea Moudania. A bit deeper talk on the results of our 3 days meeting on next year’s sampling. Flemming Vejsnæs (bad sound – since his microphone did not work) and Sjef van der Steen have a chat on the results and conclusions on the meeting.

Thanks for the hospitality!

The INSIGNIA-EU consortium meeting at Nea Moudania, Greece. Most members of the consortium were able to attend in person, with others joining virtually. Thanks to Fani Hatjina and colleagues for making us so welcome!


This is our very first INSIGNIA video PODCAST where two members of the consortium simple TALK with each other about different subjects of INSIGNIA. This time it is the coordinator Sjef van der Steen, Netherlands and Flemming Vejsnæs, Denmark, simply talking about INSIGNIA in general. Enjoy the podcast.

Exciting consortium meeting coming up this week

At the end of this week (12-13. November 22) the INSIGNIA consortium meets in real life since long time. Main issue is to evaluate this year’s field testing on different methods to measure different types of pollution. This will become the basis of next year protocol. We are really excited. Listen to Sjef van der Steen, Coordinator of INSIGNIA, what he does expect.


The first National Coordinators café

Today we held the first INSIGNIA-EU “National Coordinators café”. This was attended by most of the National Coordinators who will be organising the sampling programme in all 27 EU countries in 2023. It was an opportunity for them to meet each other informally, and to discuss practical questions about the programme with members of the core INSIGNIA-EU team. Selection of participating citizen scientist beekeepers for 2023 is currently underway, and many volunteers have come forward. The selection process is important to ensure that large countries like Spain and Germany have an even geographical distribution of beekeepers, whilst also taking account of different land uses such as cities, agricultural and semi natural areas, to provide contrasts in the likely levels of the various types of pollution experienced. Matters discussed include the practicalities of sampling in northern parts of Finland and Sweden where hives may be covered in snow for long periods, and how to arrange a sampling programme to take account of the vacation plans of the citizen scientists. All agreed that it was a useful meeting and that there will be regular follow up meetings in the future.