The first eight months of the Insignia pilot study

A mail, drawing my attention to an EU bio-monitoring call caught my attention. Wow! This is an ultimate chance to demonstrate the honeybee colony’s bio-sample feature as a tool for environmental monitoring. More colleagues had this idea and we found each other in this shared interest. Obviously, this resulted in the start of a consortium which expanded like a swan glue game, resulting in the final Insignia consortium with experts of all required scientific disciplines. Many telemeetings later, with launching, discussing and evaluating ideas, we had a clear interpretation of the call and routes to achieve this. Our focus should be on developing and testing a scientifically substantiated citizen science protocol and the application of passive samplers to meet both the non-invasive and innovative requirements in the call and applying the common matrices trapped pollen and beebread as benchmarks.

Writing the final submission, waiting for the selection and the selection itself sounds simple but was stressful, hectic and required skills for all of us as there were science, statistics, grammar, flow charts, budgeting, summarizing, planning, financial recordings, (very) frequent communicating and reporting, use of social media, etc. etc..

Now we are eight months ahead and we already do have an impressive palmarès thanks to all particip[ants involvement and energy. Passive samplers were developed, testing schemes were  made, discussed and implemented,  picture/ instruction manual written, test apiaries selected, five samplings done, first analyses done, progress in molecular detection of pollen made, social study conducted, a lime survey running, the first data for evaluation of the Corine database collected, an active social media life and several practical issues addressed, solved or parked.

Still, five samplings to go in year 1 and the plenary discussions in January 2020 on best practices both scientifically, practically and citizen-scientifically. It feels good to  cooperate in the consortium and, I am looking forward to the coming exciting 20 months.