NHMS Newsletter: Spring 2019

Dear Beekeepers,

On behalf of the National Honey Monitoring Scheme team at CEH (Centre for Ecology & Hydrology), I would like to say a big thank you to participating beekeepers in our 1st year, 2018. It has proven to be incredibly successful and, with your support, we hope to continue monitor the flowers and habitats your bees are feeding on across the UK. We have also been able to start a National Honey Archive which will provide a uniquely valuable resource for future research.
I will be presenting the UK-wide results from this 1st year at the BBKA Spring Convention in April. Please come and say hello if you are attending!

In response to your valuable feedback, we are pleased to announce to following improvements to the NHMS for 2019:

  1. Participants upon registering their interest will be asked to complete a few online details for a sample pack to be dispatched. Additional information on the honey and the apiary at the time of sampling can be provided by completing a sample submission. You will also be prompted to provide information, such as hive yield which may be unknown at sample collection, at a later date. This means no paper copies of the form will be included in the sample packs – it will all be completed online.
  2. Sample packs will contain 2 tubes and a seal-lock bag to put them in. The sample tubes are a new and improved design that cannot be overtightened and leak. Please fill both tubes with honey from the same hive, at the same time.
  3. Each tube will be labelled with both the unique barcode sticker and a new blank sticker asking for the date of collection and county. Please fill in these blank fields at point of honey collection, but do not write any other additional information on the tubes.
  4. At specific stages you will receive automated emails to keep you informed of progress. These will be at key stages:
  • Registration
  • Sample pack dispatch
  • Receipt of honey samples you return
  • Availability of initial results (sugar/water content)
  • Completion of DNA sequencing
  • Availability of data on plant species present in the honey and land cover data

5. For participants who have both an early and late harvest, once we have received your early sample, you will then be able to request another pack to be sent.

Further, please note:

  • Sample packs will be sent out from mid-March 2019
  • We have limited resources so cannot guarantee that all your honey samples will be included in analysis. However, all samples will be archived with potential for future processing should more funding become available.
  • To collect and process honey samples requires a significant amount of time. We have to filter the pollen, extract DNA, amplify and sequence the plant specific region as well as carry out data analysis.The latter stages can only be done in bulk. Therefore, we anticipate that results from spring samples will be available in December 2019 and autumn samples in June 2020.
  • Please check the FAQs on our website to see if your question is answered here prior to emailing us, as whilst we will endeavour to reply to all individual emails this may involve a slight delay.

Thank you again for taking part, and for your patience throughout our start-up year. With your ongoing support we hope to make 2019 even better. Our research is not possible without you!

Best wishes for a productive year,

Anna Oliver

Lead molecular biologist, NHMS