The human impact on our environment is one of the most important topics today. Food production and other land-based resources are invaluable to our survival, and we must make sure sustainability is a top priority. There is a growing body of literature that is investigating the relationship between honey bees, very important agricultural pollinators, and wild bees which are integral to natural ecosystem health. However, much of the research done has not given us many answers as to precisely how honeybees have been impacting wild pollinators. Norway is one of the best countries in which to study these interactions because of its pristine natural habitat and low honeybee density.
In this project, we will use these resources and the help of Norwegian Institute of Nature Research (NINA) to create a model that will allow us to predict how many honeybee colonies could be put into certain areas and habitats to create a thriving honey and pollination industry in a way that is safe for our natural biodiversity.
The project has two central parts:
1. The creation of the modelling tool that will be fed with data from the literature and from an active 3-year experiment
2. A citizen science project that will use the infrastructure of the beekeeping associations across the country to raise awareness about the importance of local honey and of our own native pollinators.
With this project we hope to provide a solid tool for agricultural planning and the sustainable growth of the beekeeping industry and unite beekeepers and the public in efforts to maintain our wild pollinators and our natural habitats.
This is the first project of its kind and if successful, will make Norway into a leader of sustainable agricultural development.
As beekeeping is coming under fire for its potential effect on wild pollinators, this industry requires solid scientific backing in strategies to move forward. Our project aims to design a modelling tool that will allow us to predict the environmental carrying capacity of hives based on the measured competition with local wild pollinators. A citizen science program will double as an effective awareness campaign and as data provision for the tool. It will be comprised of a unified effort from current projects together with the added resources provided by the Norges Birøkterlag regional association chapters.
Norges Birøkterlag (Norbi) will work together with partners to fulfill project goals. The project will involve the analysis of existing species data, and assessment of wild pollinator carrying capacity using habitat classifications, as well as a three-year field experiment introducing colonies to an isolated area and assessing the direct impacts on pollinator density and health. The citizen science project will be created by a committee of citizen science leaders from Norbi, NINA and LHS, and include the voluntary efforts of other organizations who wish to join. Norbi will provide training locations and publicization of species I.D. events using local beekeeping leaders from all across Norway.
This novel approach to beekeeping land use strategies will provide measured security in reducing pollinator competition while also promoting awareness and the growth of the beekeeping industry in Norway. It will provide reassurances to concerned members of the public, who are also in control of a large portion of land used by beekeepers to maintain healthy colonies and obtain industry-crucial honey yields. This project was written to align with the goals of the Norwegian National Pollinator Strategy, the EU pollinator initiative, and 12 and 15 of the UN sustainable development goals.