Poland joined the INSIGNIA-EU project with 20 citizen-scientist beekeepers, of which as many as five were ladies, which, project-wise, was a rarity.
Each of them is of course a beekeeper, but other than that they also have other cool jobs and interests.
The national coordinator for Poland, as well as a citizen scientist, was Dr Anna Gajda. On a daily basis she is a head of the Laboratory of Bee Diseases at the Institute of Veterinary Medicine, Warsaw University of Life Sciences in Warsaw. She runs a diagnostic lab, both for beekeepers and their sick colonies, and for science, researching long standing and emerging pathogens in both managed and wild bees. She does a lot of extension work for beekeepers and veterinarians, giving talks and practical courses on bee disease control and prevention. In her free time she enjoys photography, travel and birdwatching.
DVM Ewa Mazur is a young scientist. She works as an assistant in the Laboratory of Bee Diseases at Warsaw University of Life Sciences. Her main research topic is the problem of winter bee colony losses in Poland. She also works as an advisor for beekeepers, as she has veterinary specialization in bee diseases. Bees are her great passion – she takes care of a small apiary and loves to observe wild bees. In her free time, Ewa practices yoga and cooks vegetarian dishes.
Professor Małgorzata Bieńkowska is the head of the Apiculture Division in Puławy, a part of the Institute of Horticulture in Skierniewice. Her main research focuses on breeding queens resistant to varroa infestation, artificial insemination and chemical free methods of fighting varroa. She teaches artificial insemination of queen bees to beekeepers all over the world. Her interests beside beekeeping are forest hikes and mushroom picking, in which she is quite a proffessional.
Monika Leleń is a proffessional beekeeper, queen breeder and educator in a Beekeeper Academy, a company teaching adults and kids how to be a good beekeper. She is an amazing organizer and community activist. She is also a professional mountain guide. Her other passions are horses, jogging and learning new languages.
Ewelina Nowak is a professional German interpreter and an agrotourism (also involving an apiary) business owner. The love of her life are of course bees, but she also enjoys hiking, kayaking and baking delicious cakes.
As you can see, all the ladies are fascinating people, and their work for the INSIGNIA-EU project was impecable. They all said that it was a great pleasure to take part in such important research and to become a citizen-scientist. They all considered it fun and interesting to perform all the necessary samplings, and in the meantime to learn about the capability of bee colonies to become a bioindicator of environmental pollution. Last but not least, they told us that they learned new things about their colonies thanks to the strict schedule of sampling.
By Dr Anna Gajda
Illustration: The queens of INSIGNIA-EU Poland (clockwise from top left): Małgorzata Bieńkowska, Anna Gajda, Monika Leleń, Ewa Mazur, Ewelina Nowak.