Bee-friendly farms

Supervisors

Boki Luske (Louis Bolk Institute)
Felix Bianchi (FSE WageningenUR)

Introduction

Populations of pollinators are declining at a world-wide scale, and this phenomenon has also been documented in The Netherlands. The decline is attributed to a complex of factors, including the decline of farmland biodiversity and the associated density of flowering plants at the landscape level. Nevertheless, there are some areas where the decline of pollinators seems to be less pronounced. For instance, in Tholen pollinator populations do relatively well. In this area there are several ornamental seed breeders which rely on pollination services provided by bees and participate in the BIJenBESTUIVING network (www.boerenmetbijen.nl). Pollinator declines seem also to be less in bee populations under biodynamic management. This study aims to obtain a better understanding of the factors that explain the decline of pollinator populations in the Netherlands.

Objectives

The objective of the study is to identify the factors that make farms bee-friendly.

Procedures

You will explore and analyze literature, conduct interviews with growers and bee keepers, and measure nectar and pollen resources in the field. This information will be integrated in a “farmers toolkit”, which allows farmers to make a quick assessment of the bee-friendliness of their farm, and to provide suggestions to stimulate  bee populations on farm. For instance, the toolkit could contain information about flower periods of key plant species, nectar and pollen scores, floristic data obtained from the National Plant database and other scientific information.

Experiences gained

  • Preparation of a detailed proposal
  • Designing a questionnaire and conduct interviews
  • Master sampling techniques to quantify floral densities at the farm scale
  • Designing a sampling protocol
  • Performing data analysis
  • Writing an MSc thesis in English