Honey monitoring: tapping into the golden flow of citizen science in conservation

In partnership with beekeepers, the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is using pollen DNA barcoding of honey to study the foraging habits of honeybees to monitor changes in the health of our countryside at a time when insect pollinators are in decline in the UK. By tapping into the resource of an important cultural practice as beekeeping, conservation becomes the aligned mission of researchers and beekeepers alike.

Honey samples submitted during the summer of 2018 showed bees forage on a selection of more than 1000 plant species. Non-native species were also identified as important sources of pollen, revealing important information feeding into a long-term monitoring archive. The National Honey Monitoring Scheme is held up solely through involvement from beekeepers who have a unique understanding of honeybee behaviours and interactions with their environment; enabling them a channel to partake in conservation research endorses optimism and solutions for conserving the honeybee. By Ujala Syed from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.