NHMS Newsletter: November 2020


Dear Beekeepers,

On behalf of the National Honey Monitoring Scheme (UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), I hope you are all doing OK and staying safe. 2020 certainly continues to be a challenging year for many.

However, thanks to UK beekeepers NHMS2020 has been a huge success. We have a final tally of 1110 samples, a sample pack return rate of 80% - amazing!

As highlighted in the last newsletter, https://honey-monitoring.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/nhms-newsletter-october-2020, we will be unable to provide plant species data for all samples. Please click on the link for further details.

Those not included for molecular analyses will have their sample status change from Sugar results added to Sample archived only within the next few days. Participants will receive an email informing them of this status change and their sample history will be updated https://honey-monitoring.ac.uk/indicia/taking-part.  

We know there will be significant numbers of beekeepers who will be disappointed. I promise, however, that every sample is gratefully received and valuable as part of the National Honey Archive. We would love to process all the samples but this project relies on a relatively small grant to sustain it.  Currently it costs over £100 to do each sample and unfortunately we do not have the resources to be able to do every sample.  We do store all samples so that in the future we will have the opportunity to use these archived honey samples to further understand the impact of agriculture, land use change, climate and even diseases on honeybees.  We chose which samples to process in a random manner to make this as fair as possible, although for some areas of the UK where we have relatively few samples (e.g. Scotland) we have taken the decision to process them regardless as they are geographically important for our analyses.  Every sample is important, if not now, then in the future.  This scientific resource is already being put to good use and is providing samples for current and future grant proposals as well as new research papers.  For example, work undertaken as part of the fore-runner to the NHMS looking at the decline in neonicotinoid insecticides in honey from 2014-2017 is currently in the process of being published *. In addition, we are using the NHMS to train a new generation of scientists though a BBKA-supported PhD studentship which we are currently advertising. If interested, details can be found on the NHMS website https://honey-monitoring.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/bbka-supported-phd-opportunity-ukceh-wallingford.

Molecular work is now underway but there have been significant Covid-19 related delays. Please be mindful that we need to ensure our own safety throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and adhere to local and national guidelines, particularly with regards to lab occupancy and social distancing. For these reasons we do not have a definitive timeline for results, although spring 2021 seems most likely. Participants will be provided with progress updates (via email/ newsletters) and I am in the lab/on site full time generating those results as fast as I can!

If you have any further questions please email: honey@ceh.ac.uk


With very best wishes,


Dr Anna Oliver

Molecular Biologist, NHMS

 …and the rest of the NHMS team


* New research from the NHMS currently in press.

Oliver, A., Newbold, L., Gweon, H.S., Read, D.S., B.A., W., Pywell, R.F., In press. Extraction, metabarcoding and informatics pipeline required for the identification of pollen grains suspended in honey. MethodsX.

Woodcock, B.A., Ridding, L., Pereira, M.G., Sleep, D., Newbold, L., Oliver, A., Shore, R.F., Bullock, J.M., Heard, M.S., Gweon, H.S., Pywell, R.F., In press. Neonicotinoid use on cereals and sugar beet is linked to continued low exposure risk in honeybees. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment.