Workshop outcome: C.S.I. Pollen – Training the national agents in Graz

Robert Brodschneider, Janko Bozic, Norman Carreck, Mary F. Coffey, Karl Crailsheim, Bjørn Dahle, Jiří Danihlík; Janja Filipi, Alison Gray, Amelia-Virginia González-Porto, Nicoleta Ion, Nikola Kezic, Zdenek Klima; Preben Kristiansen, Nataša Lilek, Josef Mayr, Piotr Medrzycki, Rudolf Moosbeckhofer, Jean-François Odoux, Magnus Peterson, José Antonio Ruiz; Asger Søgaard Jørgensen; Simone Tosi, Flemming Vejsnæs, Geoff Williams, Jozef van der Steen

On 6th and 7th of February 2014, 26 researchers attended a workshop in Graz, Austria. The workshop was supported by COLOSS, the University of Graz and the Dean of the Faculty of Science. Pollen is the only source of proteins for honey bee colonies and is needed to feed brood, for organ development of adult honey bees and build-up of reserves to become long lived winter bees. All participants welcomed the initiative and agreed that the pollen nutrition of honey bees is of great importance for colony health and survival, and needs to be adequately studied. A means to study the biodiversity of pollen in the supply of honey bee colonies on a large scale is through the involvement of beekeepers as Citizen Scientists (C.S.). As beekeepers cannot perform full palynological analyses, we have developed a simple estimation of pollen diversity according to the colour of corbicular pollen pellets. This allows us to obtain information on a large number of samples, but also requires standardized protocols in all participating countries. National coordinators from the following countries agreed to conduct a common investigation in 2014 and 2015 using the protocols developed for C.S.I. Pollen in pilot studies in 2013: National coordinators of the following countries were present: Austria, Croatia, Denmark, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Scotland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Wales. We will re-evaluate the protocols after one year, and also invite other countries to join. As a second step, samples collected by the beekeeper can be analysed to connect pollen diversity derived from colour differentiation of pollen pellets, to the number of plant species identified by palynological analysis. The funding for this second level investigation is to be left to the national coordinators. Traditional melissopalynological methods are not as suitable for the analysis of corbicular pollen pellets compared to honey, so standardized methods for this will be developed. The methods of sub-sampling, storage and transport need to be developed. The first level C.S. Investigations in the different countries will be coordinated and data collected for joint analyses and publication.