Honey Bee Research : CSI Pollen project in Scotland

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Assessing pollen biodiversity for honey bees in Scotland

About the CSI Pollen project

This is a new project running in Scotland, recruiting Citizen Scientists now!

An international project for the assessment of the diversity of pollen available to honey bees began in 2013 in several European countries and is now expanding.

This CSI (Citizen Scientist Investigation) Pollen project is part of the work of COLOSS, the international research association studying honey bee colony losses and risk factors for colony loss. It is being co-ordinated from the Netherlands and Austria.

The Scottish project will be run from the University of Strathclyde. With support from both the SBA and SASA, Magnus Peterson and Alison Gray launched the project in Scotland for the 2014 season on 25th March, with an invitation to all SBA members with 3 or more colonies of bees to participate.

A beekeeper requires three pollen traps to participate in the project. We are grateful to SASA, Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture, who have generously provided the loan of 24 pollen traps to beekeepers participating in CSI Pollen in Scotland, enabling the project to get underway. These were made available to volunteers who are registered on BeeBase. We hope that further traps may be offered later for more volunteers, and we are investigating sources of funding for that, but any beekeeper with at least three colonies of bees is invited to participate.

Participating beekeepers will collect pollen samples from their bees at 9 designated sampling times, will count the number of different colours of pollen present, and will then return the information to the international database.

By taking part in this project you are joining a network of beekeepers across Europe who are volunteering as citizen scientists collecting and analysing samples of pollen from their bees. The information collected will contribute to a picture of pollen diversity available to honey bees in Scotland and beyond.

The international co-ordinators, who devised this investigation, are researchers Jozef (Sjef) van der Steen at Wageningen UR, The Netherlands, and Robert Brodschneider at the Karl-Franzens University of Graz, Austria. They are in the picture below, of participants at the workshop for training of national co-ordinators of CSI Pollen held in Graz, in February 2014.


Link here to the CSI Pollen homepage in Austria (mostly in German).

Some more information and resources in English are available here, at the COLOSS website and also here.

Latest numbers of participants

There are currently 12 participating countries, and 447 invitations have been issued for the first sampling period (including the national co-ordinators). In Scotland we have 12 participants so far!

Details of the project for Scottish participants

The project is described in detail here.

Pollen traps

A potential volunteer who is willing to provide their own pollen traps to take part in this will need three traps. Any suitable pollen traps will be fine, however the ones which SASA has provided are Thornes' Fairweather pollen traps, which we felt would be suitable. Details are available here for anyone acquiring their own traps specially for this project.

Guidelines for participating beekeepers

Please see the picture manual here, with instructions for CSI Pollen participants.


Link here to an introduction to the use of pollen traps. The volume on this one is a little quiet.

Link here to a video clip on sorting pollen samples and another on use of a pollen trap. These two were made in Denmark and are in Danish, but nonetheless may be useful!

Discussion lists/resources for the beekeeper

The SBA (Scottish Beekeepers Association ) website offers numerous resources for the beekeeper, including a discussion forum at the SBA Interactive forum (there is an external link to this at the bottom of the SBA homepage). This forum is also available to beekeepers internationally. Just register here to start using this.

Scottish participants in CSI Pollen have access to a dedicated discussion area (called CSI Pollen) within the SBAi Forum, once registered as a user of SBAi. Contact the SBAi Forum site administrator to be given access to this. This sub-forum will be used to post news and updates, share and discuss ideas, ask questions etc. It also allows linking to videos, photos and websites in posted messages. As well as appearing on the sub-forum, posted messages are circulated by email to everyone registered (except the person posting the message).

CSI Pollen participants and others may also like to know about the very active international email discussion list BEE_L for discussion on bee matters generally and connection to the international beekeeper community. Information and free registration here .

Scottish national co-ordinator for CSI Pollen

Magnus Peterson is the National Co-ordinator for CSI Pollen in Scotland.

Please contact him at magnus.peterson@strath.ac.uk to volunteer to participate as a citizen scientist, for further information, or with any enquiries about the sampling procedures once you are signed up to participate. Thank you to all those who volunteer!

Page created by Alison Gray, March 2014. Last updated 23rd April 2014.