National honey monitoring scheme

Measuring farmland ecosystem health with honeybees & wild bees. The National Honey Monitoring Scheme is a partnership between over 3,000 beekeepers across the UK and researchers at UKCEH. Each year beekeepers send in samples of honey for analysis. This includes DNA barcoding to identify the plants visited by bees in the landscape and to detect the presence of bee diseases. Our labs also analyse the honey for trace amounts of over 160 pesticides. Analysis of the data allows us to rapidly assess the overall health of the ecosystem

honey drop

Both honeybees and wild bees have suffered declines in recent years. These are thought to be linked to agricultural intensification, including pesticide use and loss of habitats/ floral resources, as well as the emergence of new diseases and climate change.

Jenny Shelton beekeeping

Their sensitivity to the way we manage land in the UK has long been a cause for concern. However, this same sensitivity makes honeybees ideal for monitoring changes in the countryside over time and at a national scale - due to the large distances over which honeybees forage, often traveling many kilometres from their hives.

The honey collected by honeybees contains incredibly valuable information on the state of the landscape the bees live in and environmental pressures they are exposed to.

Bee Photo: Lucy Hulmes

Read more about what the national honey monitoring scheme aims to achieve