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National Honey Monitoring Scheme


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What flowers do our honeybees visit? Dr Anna Oliver of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology explains how the National Honey Monitoring Scheme in the UK is using citizen science to help us understand honeybees and what honey reveals about the wider environment.

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Published in: Science
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National Honey Monitoring Scheme

  1. 1. The National Honey Monitoring Scheme: Using citizen science to understand honeybees Dr Anna Oliver
  2. 2. 1. Who are CEH? 2. Intro. to NHMS 3. YEAR 1 SUMMARY RESULTS- UK and regional 4. NHMS 2019 5. NERC/NHMS Innovation: Development of methods to further investigate the floral origin of honey 6. Importance of Citizen Science to CEH/beekeepers • PoMS and Asian Hornet Watch Structure
  3. 3. CEH is the UK's centre of excellence for research in the land and freshwater environmental sciences
  4. 4. Our goal – to deliver solutions for today’s urgent environmental problems to achieve environmental sustainability Our vision – to be the world-leading centre for integrated science in terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems
  5. 5. History of CEH
  6. 6. Resources
  8. 8. Using honeybees to monitor long-term changes in the condition and health of the countryside Richard Pywell, Lindsay Newbold, Ujala Syed, Dan Read, Jodey Peyton, Ben Woodcock, Jim Bacon, John Vanbreda, Mike Brown and David Roy (head of Biological Records Centre, CEH) Filtering team: Ellie Grove, Denise Pallett, Jenny Christelow and Jo Savage Bioinformatics: Hyun Gweon Soon (University of Reading)
  9. 9. • 5+ year national capability research programme • Unites NERC & BBSRC expertise with support from the farming industry • Develop new farming systems:  Sustainable & efficient  Ecologically-based  Resilient to future shocks • New understanding of factors limiting crop yield & resilience • Hydro-met services for agriculture (soil moisture, soil temp etc.) • Real-time crop yield monitoring network • Tools to explore how post-Brexit policy and farming systems may impact on key indicators • Improved monitoring of at landscape scale: • National pesticide & fertiliser application maps • National Honey Monitoring Scheme • Community process model predicting impacts of farming on nutrient cycles at 1km scale • Network of 20 commercial study farms testing new farming systems • GHG flux tower network • Soil survey of 570 arable fields to explore management impacts on carbon • Leverage of additional funding from BASF & Defra
  10. 10. Aims of the Scheme 1. Use DNA barcoding to analyse honey samples • Identify pollen (flowers bees feeding on) 2. Identify differences (time of harvest, location etc.) 3. Identify changes over time 4. Link to performance of honeybee hives (mortality, production, health etc.) and environmental factors (land use, farming practises, pollinators, climate etc.) 5. Provide FREE information: Pollen content and habitat 6. Create a sample resource for future research • Pesticide residues • Current and emerging pathogens
  11. 11. How it works • Simple web-based scheme • Co-designed with BBKA/BFA • Anonymised • How to video 1) Create user account 2) Locate apiary on map 3) Request sample pack 4) Receive results Provide additional details on hive performance
  12. 12. Freepost How it works 2) DNA extraction from pollen in honey 4) Next generation sequencing- millions pollen DNA reads/run 1) Collection of honey from comb 5) Bioinformatics: comparison with reference databases to find match 3) Amplification of plant-specific DNA RESULTS ARCHIVE
  13. 13. Plant specific gene: ITS • ITS: Internal Transcribed Spacer of nuclear ribosomal DNA (site of biological protein synthesis • Common barcoding gene • Most comprehensive database • No barcoding genes are universal • ID limited by the sequence variation found within the region and the quality of the database • Data we are providing CAN NOT be used for certification purposes • Can be used to monitor changes in foraging habits
  14. 14. Taxonomic identification: E.g. Rubus Kingdom: Plantae (plants) – ~280,000 species Division: Angiospermae (flowering plants) – ~250,000 species Order: Rosales (roses and their allies) – ~18,000 species Family: Rosaceae (rose family) – 3,500 species Genus: Rubus (Brambles) – 250-700 species – Brambles: Blackberries, raspberries – Hybrids: Loganberries, tayberries More specific with higher taxonomic level Sequence confidence
  15. 15. NHMS outputs 1: Sugar and water content of honey • Sugar content (%) measured in Brix • Typically 77-88% • Moisture content (% water) • 20% and below Based on the refractive index- how the sugar and water content of honey effects the passage of light Rough estimation- using a hand held refractometer
  16. 16. NHMS outputs 2: Pollen species found in honey sample
  17. 17. NHMS outputs 3: Habitat and crops surrounding beehive • Access to national maps of land cover (habitats) and crops based on satellite imagery • CEH Land Cover ® 2015 and Land Cover ® Plus Crops 2018 • Bespoke report for each hive .
  18. 18. YEAR 1
  19. 19. Round-up • 400 beekeepers signed up • 200 samples analysed & results despatched • Methodology refined: • Sampling • Wet lab/sequencing • Data analysis • Presentation of results
  21. 21. The UK top 10 bee plants 11% % Species/Genus 24.0 Bramble 11.2 field mustard/OSR/brassicas 10.7 Sweet chestnut 9.2 White clover 1.7 Borage 1.7 Wild radish 1.5 Privet 1.4 Himalayan Balsam 1.2 Forget-me-nots 1.0 Vetches and Broad beans Medicinal properties- protection against disease?
  22. 22. Weird and the wonderful Ornamentals: Not on UK plant lists
  23. 23. Regional variation Questions: What diversity of pollen do we find? Is this expected? …. habitat type surrounding hive? …. crops surrounding hives? Only including those with 10 or more samples NUTS1 regions: Used by the UK’s Office for National Statistics
  24. 24. Pollen sequence richness Richness: Diversity within a region- vertical (range), box (majority), horizontal (average) Large differences in diversity of plant taxa found in honey from different regions: London highest, East of England most samples with a lower diversity % samples East Midlands 4.7 East of England 15.1 London 6.4 North East 1.7 North West 5.8 Northern Ireland 0.5 Scotland 9.9 South East 24.4 South West 14 Wales 4.7 West Midlands 9.9 Yorkshire and the Humber 2.9
  25. 25. Broad habitat type surrounding hives NB: based on 200m surrounding each hive sampled Only includes data from samples we have NOT HABITAT FOR REGION HighestLowest 50% Arable and horticulture 30% Urban 10% Coniferous woodland 35% Suburban
  26. 26. Crop cover surrounding hives • East of England: Lowest diversity samples linked to dominant crop surrounding hives winter wheat? • London: Highest diversity as lowest crop cover?
  27. 27. What is there? • Very complex! • 20 million sequence reads More than 1000 different taxa identified over the entire dataset • A lot of data – hard to visualise at higher taxonomic level • Broad differences order – genus level • Use ecological statistics to look for detailed (statistically significant) patterns, differences, responses etc.
  28. 28. Regional composition: Dominance • 75% of total dataset for samples within a region • Most diversity will be seen within the lower 25% Number of dominant taxa: East of England - 10 London - 5 North West - 7 Scotland - 10 South East - 10 South West - 6 Scotland most even distribution of dominant taxa – less highly dominated…..more varied broad habitats?
  29. 29. Genus: Key players Brassicas Brambles Trifolium Castanea
  30. 30. Genus: Dominant within a region Borage Eucalyptus Asparagus Tree of heaven Forget me nots Plume thistles Heather Gorse Willow Hawthorn Buddleia Mignonette Poplar
  31. 31. Future questions? • How do they change over time? • Why? • Are any of these associated with hive productivity/health Please fill in additional information online - you will be reminded to do so with status updates
  32. 32. Additional Information Yield – 2.2-150kg Number of hives harvested – 1-13 Time at location – 1 month to a year or more Hive losses – 131 • Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire • Hampshire and Isle of Wight • Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire
  33. 33. 2019 Ujala Syed
  34. 34. Timeline for 2019-20 Apr 2019 May 2019 Jun 2019 Jul 2019 Aug 2019 Sep 2019 Oct 2019 Nov 2019 Dec 2019 Jan 2020 Feb 2020 Mar 2020 Apr 2020 May 2020 Jun 2020 Jul 2020 Aug 2020 Sep 2020 Oct 2020 Nov 2020 Dec 2020 S/S 19 S/A 19 S/S 20 S/A 20 Spring/ early summer harvest sample collection and honey processing Late summer/autumn harvest sample collection and honey processing Molecular wet lab Molecular bioinformatics and data analysis Results made availble Anticipated results from early harvest December each year Anticipated results from late harvest June the following year
  35. 35. Sample tracking for participants Message to beekeeper Status We have received your request. A sample pack will be with you within 2 weeks. Pack requested We have dispatched your sample pack. Pack sent We have received your sample pack for analysis. Sugar/water measurements will be available within one month. Sample received We have updated your records with sugar/water measurements from your honey sample. Your sample will be batched with others for DNA analysis with results from spring samples available in December and autumn samples in June of the following year. Sugar results added We have completed DNA sequencing of your sample in the laboratory and are processing the results now. Results from spring samples will be available in December and autumn samples in June of the following year. Please update your online form to include yield and other information you feel is relevant to your honey sample. Sequencing complete We have updated your records with plant identification data obtained from DNA analysis of your honey sample. If you have not yet done so, please update your online form to include yield and other information you feel is relevant to your honey sample. Sequencing results available
  36. 36. INNOVATION: FLORAL ORIGIN Lindsay Newbold Long term aim to offer a suite of services for more detailed identification of the floral origin of honey
  37. 37. Determining the floral origin of honey Melissopalynology Proxy for floral origin based solely upon pollen • Pollen coefficients New project: Dual approach 1. Molecular • Increase number of genetic markers • Single copy genes • Increase the length sequenced 2. Chemical: Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) • Develop database of FTIR signatures of different honeys, not based on pollen content • Look for common signatures • Already established for detecting honey adulteration • Evidence (rapeseed; Sidr; Manuka…)
  38. 38. • Connecting thousands of people to their environment • High value to research and policy • Take part via mobile apps or online recording CITIZEN SCIENCE
  39. 39. Importance of citizen science to CEH research • Biological Recording Scheme (BRC) • 1964: 10,000 species distribution maps • UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme (PoMS) • Asian Hornet Watch App (invasive species) • National Plant Monitoring Scheme (NPMS) Recent CEH output made possible through public involvement
  40. 40. UK Pollinator Monitoring Scheme Funders & partners • Aims to establish how pollinator populations are changing • Focus on bees (including honeybees) and hoverflies, in recognition of their functional importance as pollinators • Flower-Insect Timed Count (FIT Count) • Count ALL insects that land on target flowers within 50×50cm patch during 10-minute period • Identify to group level using guides provided • Urban and countryside locations – anyone can take part! • Intensive survey of pollinators & floral resources • Network of 75 1km random survey squares • Designed to detect broad GB-level changes in abundance of pollinator groups and some species Dr Claire Carvell, CEH Wallingford
  41. 41. Adopt a square! • 1-person, 1-day protocol • 4 visits per year • Initial training visit with a PoMS team mentor • Pan-trapping 6hr (+ expert species ID) • FIT-Counts (2 per square) • Simple habitat type and flower counts • All equipment and travel expenses provided
  42. 42. How to get involved? BWARS Bees, Wasps & Ants Recording Society • Visit the webpages for FIT Count guidelines and how-to videos • Submit counts and records on iRecord • Email us to join in with 1km square surveys Twitter @PoMScheme
  43. 43. Pollinator threat : Asian hornet • Native to China • Arrived in pottery consignment Bordeaux, France in 2004 • First sighted in UK in 2016 Asian Hornet Watch App Professor Helen Roy, MBE - CEH Wallingford
  44. 44. 0 500 1000 1500 2000 2500 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Numberofreports 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 Asian hornet surveillance
  45. 45. Successful eradication • There have been fewer than ten sightings of the Asian hornet and all have been eradicated • This year there was a sighting through the online system on a Sunday and the eradication took place the next day
  46. 46. Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain Gary D. Powney, Claire Carvell, Mike Edwards, Roger K.A. Morris, Helen E. Roy, Ben A. Woodcock, Nick J.B. Isaac @GaryPowney Gary D. Powney, Claire Carvell, Mike Edwards, Roger K. A. Morris, Helen E. Roy, Ben A. Woodcock and Nick J. B. Isaac. 2019. Widespread losses of pollinating insects in Britain. Nature Communications. DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-08974-9 Note: Wild pollinators, not honeybees, included in this study
  47. 47. • A third of wild pollinator species declined in their geographic range between 1980 and 2013, while a tenth increased • On average, the geographic range of bees and hoverflies declined by a quarter • Value and continued need for public engagement in wildlife recording
  48. 48. NHMS team thank you All who provided pilot samples: Emily Abbott (Hive and Keeper) Ged Marshall (British Honey Producers Ltd.) Peter Martin (Melissopalynologist) BBKA and BFA NHMS 2018 participants Future participants WE NEED YOU! Pick up a postcard for details
  49. 49. Questions