Workshop Conclusions - The Bee Hub: Together, Building the Future of Pollinator Data
Updated: Jan 6
On the 27th of February 2021, BeeLife members were invited to participate in an interactive BeeLife internal workshop for the future of The Bee Hub, our developing platform to centralise and communicate pollinator-related data.
BeeLife's 2nd online training session for 2021 introduced its members to the developmental state of the platform The Bee Hub, currently being developed as the EU Bee Partnership Prototype Platform on Bee Health financed by the EFSA. The platform aims to gather pollinator-related data from various sources, process it, and transform it into information available to the public for improved decision-making at different levels.
BeeLife members, particularly national and regional beekeeping associations, actively participated in the workshop to provide direct insights into their needs and expectations. This valuable feedback will be taken on board for the future construction and expansion of The Bee Hub. We also explored how to improve collaborations among the members and BeeLife.
One of the main conclusions from the discussion was that we all aim towards a common objective: improving conditions for pollinators in Europe. The BeeLife team rejoices in the trust that participants put into our activities and the general support that will allow The Bee Hub to continue growing.
This document summarises some key points from the workshop.
Key conclusions from The Bee Hub Workshop.
Participants provided crucial input on two main subjects regarding The Bee Hub.
1. Members’ efforts in data collection and potential participation in The Bee Hub as data providers
Participants gave us great insights into their efforts regarding data collection. All participants answered that they collect data in one way or another. Mainly through forms and the support of technical supervisors, participants gather socioeconomic data from beekeepers. Participants noted that they collect a wide range of data, including:
Pesticides exposure and interactions with the crops in the surroundings of the apiary.
Geographic distribution of beekeepers and colonies.
Beekeeping products price follow-up.
Commercial distribution of beekeeping products.
Winter mortality rates.
Varroa control strategies.
Beekeeping products yields.
Years of experience of their members.
Digital monitoring data.
This list is not exhaustive but only exemplary of a vast effort in data collection to assess the status of the sector and plan strategies within their associations. Some of the primary uses for data include providing information services to their members, statistical analysis, advocacy, and improving decision-making for apiary management.
Participants often publish their data in their digital and print channels to make it available to their members. They also do so in various formats, from scientific publications, reports, and even online alert systems.
Participants gave an inspiring message of collaboration by stating that they are, in principle, willing to become data providers to The Bee Hub and share their data. Although BeeLife needs to tailor data-sharing agreements to ensure the protection of privacy and data security.
2. Thinking about the future of The Bee Hub
First, participants helped us identify, from their perspective, the challenges and risks of joining The Bee Hub (as data providers or otherwise) and the expected benefits of the platform. They also helped us picture an ideal future for the platform.
Challenges: Participants seemed to converge on three critical difficulties regarding the use of bee, beekeeper, pollinator, and environmental data for the future of The Bee Hub.
Lack of data standardisation resulting in significant difficulties for communication: As agents in the field, projects and authorities collect data differently depending on speciality, project focus, or even cultural practices. The divergence in data collection creates complex conditions to transfer data and contrast datasets from different origins. These conditions also make it challenging to develop data-sharing networks that expand beyond incomplete transfers of data. An additional challenge is that data collected at various levels are often limited and not communicated beyond the initial scope (regional data not being paired nor contrasted to national data).
Insufficient trust between beekeepers (also project leaders, associations, farmers) making collaboration and even data gathering and sharing difficult: This problem varies depending on the context, but in countries such as Belgium, Romania, and Sweden, it leads to a significant sociological challenge that blocks new and more ambitious efforts that could benefit all involved parties. Other factors such as commercial secrecy and concerns about safety (to avoid hive thefts) and reputation also play a role in promoting individualism.
Beekeepers and farmers are starkly divided and lack platforms for their cooperation: Even though beekeeping and farming find significant overlaps in their interests and range of activities, they are still too divided. This perception makes collaboration difficult. However, there is an opportunity to improve this division (which directly relates to BeeLife's vision).
Risks of participating in The Bee Hub: Participants responded, for the most part, positively to the development of The Bee Hub and their potential participation as data providers. Based on their trust in BeeLife, participants did not anticipate significant risks for their involvement in the platform. However, they emphasised that data security protocols and privacy need to continue their development, mainly to ensure the protection of local beekeepers and sensitive information.
Expected benefits from The Bee Hub: Participants underlined three benefits that they would expect from The Bee Hub platform. These are services that would boost current and future activities within their networks.
The beekeeping sector's socioeconomic data and status: Participants expect that the platform allows for an accessible and user-friendly presentation of the development of the beekeeping market in Europe (and possibly worldwide). The platform should provide a visual comparative tool to understand the conditions of the market and their position regarding productivity and prices. Such a tool could also be a source to compare best practices and identify locally applicable recommendations for management.
A platform to improve collaborations: Participants agreed that The Bee Hub should become not only a tool for public visualisation but also a tool for stakeholders (beekeeping associations, projects, authorities) to share data among their networks. The Bee Hub could also provide the proper means to help participants make their efforts public and even stimulate data communication.
A tool to improve advocacy: Participants also conduct advocacy activities to improve conditions for bees and beekeepers. The Bee Hub could help them strengthen their arguments by directly linking fact-based indications of problems and opportunities in the field. The platform could also help follow-up the impact of policies at regional, national, and European levels.
In conclusion, The Bee Hub presents significant opportunities but needs to respond to particular challenges to stimulate trust among beekeepers and farmers. Much more than a tool for data sharing and visualisation, The Bee Hub needs to promote collaborations and inspire trust-building between stakeholders.
With a focus on new collaborations and the opportunity to build upon existing efforts of data collaboration, the workshop has been a valuable experience to guide the future of The Bee Hub.
BeeLife thanks all participants for their proactive involvement and their good disposition to continue working together.
For additional information on BeeLife activities dealing with digitalisation and The Bee Hub, how to become a data provider or other opportunities for collaboration, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.