Here will come a list of publications of the insignia group. Under construction.


Environmental monitoring study of pesticide contamination in Denmark through honey bee colonies using APIStrip-based sampling

Due to their extensive use in both agricultural and non-agricultural applications, pesticides are a major source of environmental contamination. Honey bee colonies are proven sentinels of these and other contaminants, as they come into contact with them during their foraging activities. However, active sampling strategies involve a negative impact on these organisms and, in most cases, the need of analyzing multiple heterogeneous matrices. Conversely, the APIStrip-based passive sampling is innocuous for the bees and allows for  long-term monitorings using the same colony. The versatility of the sorbent Tenax, included in the APIStrip composition, ensures that comprehensive information regarding the contaminants inside the beehive will be obtained in one single matrix. In the present study, 180 APIStrips were placed in nine apiaries distributed in Denmark throughout a six-month sampling period (10 subsequent samplings, April to September 2020). Seventy-five pesticide residues were detected (out of a 428-pesticide scope), boscalid and azoxystrobin being the most frequently detected compounds. There were significant variations in the findings of the sampling sites in terms of number of detections, pesticide diversity and average concentration. A relative indicator of the potential risk of pesticide exposure for the honey bees was calculated for each sampling site. The evolution of pesticide detections over the sampling periods, as well as the individual tendencies of selected pesticides, is herein described. The findings of this largescale monitoring were compared to the ones obtained in a previous Danish, APIStrip-based pilot monitoring program in 2019. Samples of honey and wax were also analyzed and compared to the APIStrip findings.

15. Dissipation and cross-contamination of miticides in apiculture. Evaluation by APIStrip-based sampling

he active substances coumaphos, tau-fluvalinate and amitraz are among the most commonly employed synthetic miticides to control varroa infestations in apiculture. These compounds can persist inside the beehive matrices and can be detected long time after their application. The present study describes the application of a new passive sampling methodology to assess the dissipation of these miticides as well as the cross-contamination in neighboring beehives. The APIStrips are a recently developed sampling device based on the sorbent Tenax, which shows a remarkable versatility for the sorption of molecules onto its surface. This avoids the need of actively sampling apicultural matrices such as living bees, wax or reserves (honey and pollen), therefore allowing to obtain representative information of the contamination in the beehive environment in one single matrix. The results show that the amitraz-based treatments have the fastest dissipation rate (half-life of 11–14 days), whereas tau-fluvalinate and coumaphos remain inside the beehive environment for longer time periods, with a half-life up to 39 days. In the present study, tau-fluvalinate originated an intense cross-contamination, as opposed to coumaphos and amitraz. This study also demonstrates the contribution of drifting forager bees in the pesticide crosscontamination phenomena. Moreover, the sampling of adult living bees has been compared to the APIStrip-based sampling, and the experimental results show that the latter is more effective and consistent than traditional active sampling strategies. The active substances included in this study do not migrate to the honey from the treated colonies in significant amounts.

14. Beebread consumption by honey bees is fast: results of a six-week field study

Due to their foraging behavior, honey bees interact with the landscape. As a result, honey bees and their brood will be exposed to pesticides through nectar and pollen entering the hive. Although these pathways seem rather straightforward, there are several steps between the entry of nectar and pollen and its consumption by the colony. One of the aspects involved here is the time between collection and consumption of pollen in the hive. This is of importance for the actual exposure of nurse bees and larvae to pesticides in pollen. Although lab and short-term field studies indicated that bees prefer to consume freshly stored pollen, this has to our knowledge not been verified in a long-term field study under realistic  environmental and apiculturist conditions. To study pollen consumption dynamics, influx and consumption were recorded at 3 or 4 day intervals over a six-week period in two colonies. It was demonstrated that throughout the experimental period, beebread consumption was high in the first 3 to 5 days after  collection, over which approximately 70% was consumed. The remaining 30% was consumed within a 2 to 3 week period. Pollen consumption is swift and indicates that only limited time is available for potential degradation processes. As actual data on degradation of pesticides in stored pollen are not available, a justified worse case assumption would be that the actual expos[1]ure concentrations consumed by the nurse bees and larvae are the same as the concentrations in collected pollen.

13. Varroa Control: A Brief Overview of Available Methods

Adequate varroa control is a tool to reduce winter losses (Le Conte et al., 2010; Dainat et al., 2012; Rosenkranz et al., 2010). As beekeepers still fail to choose and implement varroa control methods, there is a need for a better understanding of the mode of action and consequences of the various control methods. This article provides an overview of varroa treatment and provides beekeepers with background information to make varroa control an integral part of beekeeping management. Each control has its efficacy, depending on in-hive conditions. Generally, a combination of control methods appears to be the most effective for year-round low varroa infestation pressure.

Articles in bee journals

Flemming Vejsnæs & INSIGNIA Konsortiet. Bier til miljøovervågning af pesticidanvendelse. Tidsskrift for Biavl. Januar 2019 (1): 25-25. Danmarks Biavlerforening. Download here. Introducing INSIGNIA-danish beekeeper magazine


Alison Gray and the INSIGNIA Consortium (2019). Introducing INSIGNIA (environmental monitoring of pesticide use through honey bees). The Scottish Beekeeper, 96(3), 111 and 113-114.

Alison Gray, Flemming Vejsnaes, Norman Carreck and the INSIGNIA Consortium (2020). An update on the INSIGNIA project (environmental monitoring of pesticide use through honey bees). The Scottish Beekeeper, 97(4), 156-158.

J. van der Steen (2020). Lead rain after the Notre Dame cathedral fire, and how honey bee colonies map this contamination. The Scottish Beekeeper, 97(11), 409-411.

The international INSIGNIA group (2020). Insignia pesticide matrix sampling: The APIStrip is an efficient matrix for bio-monitoring of pesticides using honey bee colonies and most pollen entering bee hives is collected from wild plants rather than crops. Results of the statistical analysis of the 2019 INSIGNIA sampling. The Scottish Beekeeper, 97(11), 426.

Amadeo Fernandez-Alba, Flemming Vejsnæs and Sjef van der Steen (2021). INSIGNIA Group note: Bee-monitoring for microplastics. The Scottish Beekeeper, 98(3), 97-98.