Sjef’s visit in Graz and trip to two Austrian citizen scientists

Past Friday, Sjef van der Steen visited the Uni Graz Natco team Kristina Gratzer and Robert Brodschneider at the University of Graz in Austria.
We had one full day of activities together.
The day started with the sampling at the university’s own apiary. Sjef turned out to be a great assistant in the sampling process.
After we stored all samples accordingly, we visited a nearby restaurant for lunch and discussed the further program of the day.
The first goal was to visit Josef, one of the Austrian citzen scientists near Graz. We decided to take the country road, passing some small cities, woods,  loads of farming lands,  and even former study sites of Sjef.

Continue reading “Sjef’s visit in Graz and trip to two Austrian citizen scientists”

7th Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2022 or dear national coordinators

Citizen Science – why not?

This was the topic of the 7th Austrian citizen science conference held end of June in Dornbirn visited by researchers from Austria, Switzerland and Germany. Citizen science is scientific research partly being done by non-professionals, which are nonetheless experts and/or enthusiasts in a specific field.

Of course, the Austrian partners of the INSIGNIA-EU project from the University of Graz did not miss the opportunity to be a part of this event. They presented the valuable volunteer work of beekeepers acting as citizen scientists in projects like INSIGNIA or INSIGNIA-EU.

One of the topics covered by several presentations and discussions at the conference was the motivation of volunteers to participate in scientific research. Psychologist Nicola Moczek presented a conceptual model of causes of sustained volunteerism. Aim of this post is to appeal to all national coordinators, who will be joining the INSIGNIA-EU community in the upcoming year, to internalize these principles.

The four stages of participation include ‚Awareness of opportunity‘, ‚Decision to participate‘, ‚Initial participation‘ and ‚Sustained participation‘ (see Figure 1). To recruit beekeepers as citizen scientists they first need to be aware of the opportunity to participate in this project. So, we publicise that we are looking for motivated beekeepers that want to participate in our project in beekeeping magazines or on social media. Maybe some national coordinators already have a network of dedicated beekeepers. Perfect, kindly ask them if they want to volunteer. To support their decision to participate we explain why their contribution is important to perform this large-scale study. We study the environment with the help of honey bees foraging on large areas and with the help of beekeepers sampling the hives. Make beekeepers aware they are part of a community of citizen scientists volunteering with their unique abilities to make the research possible. They will be trained to take samples from their locations in a standardized way – our team of researchers in the laboratories guarantees to give their best to analyse the samples, inform citizen scientists and draw the right conclusions from the data. As project coordinators we want to motivate beekeeper citizen scientists to sustain their participation. We can reach this by clear communication and best support during the study.

Figure 1. Model of Influence for participation in citizen science projects by Penner (2002), adapted by and cited from West et al. (2016) in Geoghegan et al. (2016). Additions by Moczek, 2019. (Moczek et al., 2021)


Here are some impressions of the time in Dornbirn:

Continue reading “7th Austrian Citizen Science Conference 2022 or dear national coordinators”

A full sampling round on video

The first sampling round is behind us and in the course of this, we were able to familiarize ourselves with the sampling materials and the sampling process.

The pilot study in 2022 is relatively complex and involves many different methods, that the participating beekeepers have to engage with.

Because pictures are known to say more than 1000 words, we made a video of the sampling and uploaded it to YouTube. This should serve as a supplement to the picture manual and hopefully increases the understanding of the course of the pilot study.

Since the pollen trap of the hives was still closed at the time of sampling, the pollen sampling is not included in the video, but will be added later on.


The video can be watched through the following LINK.


Kristina Gratzer

C*Sci2022 presented by the Citizen Science Association


This year, the C*Sci2022 conference will be held online from May 23-May 26. Registered parties will be able to join interesting discussions and have access to more than 100 posters and douzens of talks about a variety of citizen science projects around the world.

The opening keynote will be held by Dr. Mónica Ramírez-Andreotta, who will give a talk on “Cultivating Science, Justice, and Action”

Of course, the INSIGNIA-EU team will also be part of the conference by presented a poster about the project (dowload the PDF poster here –> INSIGNIAPoster)

Be sure to sign up and learn more about citizen science.

Link to the conference website:


Kristina Gratzer and Robert Brodschneider

The pilot study in 2 min

Denmark has now made the setup in all five apiaries. The pilot study is rather complicated, but when you first do it in practical beekeeping, then it turns out to be easy. It takes 16 min to set up a colony for the pilot study. But there is a lot of small bits and pieces you have to have control on. So, at the first setup we  have to get at sessor, an envelope, clips etc. We felt we did a rather long walk as well. But now it is up running and we are looking forward to the sampling in 2 weeks’ time.


Finally! The INSIGNIA-EU Pilot study has started

After all the time, the INSIGNIA-EU team has spent for the preparations, we have reached the moment for celebration of the INSIGNIA-EU pilot study start 2022. 

Today, May 19th until Sunday, May 22 marks the very first phase of the pilot study’s sampling process – the installation period.

Within this time period, a total of 15 participating citizen scientist beekeepers from Austria, Denmark and Greece will install the first matrices. Those will stay in the test hives for two weeks and be sampled within the sampling period of sampling round 1 (SR01).

Austria prepared a short, video guidance for the installation period:  Continue reading “Finally! The INSIGNIA-EU Pilot study has started”

Become informed on INSIGNIA

Subscribe our newsletter on what is happening during the 2022-23 at the exciting INSIGNIA project. We will keep you regular updated on our progress, activities, blog and social media. Become aware of our project and follow our pilot project in 2022 (Greece, Denmark and Austria) – where we build on the INSIGNIA-BEE project from 2019-2021 – with heavy metal, microplastic and air pollutants. We evaluate a variety of different solutions. Then in in 2023, the best practice for using honeybees as bio-monitors will become rolled out in all Europe. A very exciting project. Stay tuned and subscribe our newsletter.

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David G Biron

We were all very sad to hear of the recent death after a short illness of David G Biron, who was our French partner in the original INSIGNIA project. David worked as a Senior Research Scientist at the Ecology and Environment Institute of CNRS at Clermont-Ferrand, France. He was well known in the field of interactions between hosts, parasites and pollutants in ecosystems. He was the director of the Zone Atelier Territoire Uranifères using and developing remote observation sensors to assess the risks of natural radioactivity enhanced by natural or man-made factors in ecosystems such as springs or a disused uranium mine. He was the manager of the “EcoHealth” working group of the CNRS Zones Ateliers Network. His work on interactions between parasites and their hosts, especially deciphering and understanding host-parasite cross-talk by using “parasito-proteomics” led to the idea of “population proteomics”, a new emerging field in proteomics. He published many scientific papers, on a range of topics and organisms. His work on bees included studies on the gut parasite Nosema ceranae and its interactions with pesticides such as fipronil and thiacloprid. He contributed to the chapter on toxicology in the COLOSS BEEBOOK. Our condolences go out to his family.