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Bees, farmers and consumers

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Reintroducing on-farm beekeeping

Farms need return of the bee

The number of farmers who keep their own bees has declined significantly. Nevertheless, honeybees play a central role in agricultural production: they pollinate the crops, which is a prerequisite for fruit and seed formation. For their survival bees depend on food source plants such as flowering herbs, bushes and trees to obtain nectar and pollen. However, vegetation diversity in rural landscapes has decreased considerably. In the project 'Bees, farmers and consumers' (2014-2016) farmers are setting up beehives with help from professional beekeepers. They are also increasing the diversity of bee food plants on and around their farms. The aim of the project is to study the effect of bees at the farm level and to increase knowledge about the social behaviour of bees.

Research on biodynamic farms

As part of this project, eight biodynamic farmers have recently set up beehives on their farms. During the coming years, researchers of the Louis Bolk Institute will monitor and analyse the changes on and around the farm resulting from the reintroduction of on-farm beekeeping. They will also monitor the availability of food source plants and look at bee colonies as living organisms that are part of the farm system.

From farmer to consumer

The 'Bees, farmers and consumers' project has been initiated by the Louis Bolk Institute, Odin-Estafette (wholesale and retail distributor of organic and biodynamic food products), Demeter Foundation and BD Vereniging (national organisation of biodynamic farmers). The Iona Foundation and Odin Foundation for Beekeeping have raised funds for the project from donors and sponsors. The participating biodynamic farms are Thedinghsweert (Kerk-Avezaath), De Vijfsprong (Vorden), GAOS (Swifterbant), Zonneboog (Lelystad), Zonnehorst (Punthorst), De Beukenhof (Breda), Remeker (Lunteren), Vos (Kraggenburg) and Fruitweelde (Ingen). Because of the wide range of organisations involved this project will have an impact on the entire food supply chain, from farmers to retailers and consumers.  Results will be published on this website by the end of the project (2016).

More information
Willemijn Cuijpers
Odin Beekeeper Jos Willemse taking a pollen sample
Honeybees feeding on nectar and pollen