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Published: 2021-06-21

The Pollen Hunt starts and a week is dedicated to pollinators

NEWS The Pollination week 15 - 23 May is about drawing attention to and disseminating knowledge about our vital pollinators and their role in the ecosystem. The celebration of the national pollination week is an initiative of Pollinera Sverige and is financed by, among others, the Swedish Board of Agriculture. Pollen is also the theme for Research Aid 2021 in collaboration with school children.

Text: Ingrid Söderbergh

“We are now taking the opportunity to launch our project Pollen Hunt which has been selected for the Nobel Prize Museum's Research Aid this year. Through Research Aid, school children get the opportunity to try out real research. The Pollen Hunt will be the eleventh edition of Research Aid and this year the students will collect important data about pollinators and pollen together with us researchers” says Natuschka Lee, researcher at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University and national project manager.

Schoolchildren analyze pollen and honey

Bees collect pollen and nectar to get the nutrition they need. In the Pollen Hunt researchers, beekeepers, schools and the Nobel Prize Museum collaborate to map bee colonies' pollination activities around Sweden. Through the collaboration that Natuschka Lee and her research team have with Swedish beekeepers, they get access to pollen from different parts of the country. It is this pollen that the pupils will then work with in school after the summer holidays. The research tasks will also involve outdoor excursion exercises linked to pollinators and plants.

“We will investigate which plants the bees visit in all counties in Sweden, the condition of the plants, for example with regard to environmental toxins and how this can affect the bees, and what risks there may be for competition between honey bees and wild pollinators” says Natuschka Lee.

The Pollen Hunt ends in late autumn with analyzing of honey, where schoolchildren learn what a valuable product honey is, that it is unfortunately the third most counterfeit food product in the world, and how to prove the origin of honey and thus identify possible counterfeit products.

Pollination ecology in Campus Bigården

It was a few years ago that Natuschka Lee, a researcher at the Department of Ecology and Environmental Science at Umeå University, took courage and started a completely new field of research at Umeå University, namely pollination ecology. The ambition has given several Umeå students new opportunities to delve into this theme. Until now, at least 15 students and foreign Erasmus students have been allowed to carry out project work or degree projects in the area.

This spring and summer, five different exciting degree projects are underway around pollination networks in Västerbotten and the effects of fungae in bee communities. Furthermore, Natuschka Lee and her students collaborate with the County Administrative Board of Västerbotten to explore the plants in Västerbotten that we lack knowledge about how they are pollinated and by whom.

Many activities in progress

Last year, Umeå University celebrated the pollination week and the international contribution on 18 May 2020 with the inauguration of Campus Bigården and the launch of a new profile product: honey that has been produced by 150,000 diligent honey bees.

“It feels good that we have started so many activities in such a short time. This shows that we have succeeded in identifying an important need that has been lacking in both undergraduate education and in our research environment at Umeå University. Furthermore, we have received a very positive response from beekeepers around Sweden who appreciate our research efforts. As soon as the current pandemic situation allows, we will also start our popular bee safaris and pollination ecology excursions in Västerbotten - here all participants get the opportunity to learn a little about our pollinators and see a bee community in action - and taste our honey.”

Read more:

Umeå University’s staff tripled overnight

LONA days draw attention to wild pollinators

Pollinate Sweden - activities during the pollination week