The relation to the environment is extremely important for honey bees. In the research towards intelligent beehive designs we got very inspired by the relationship between the flowers and the bees. In this part of the study we take a close look at the pollen morphology, their shape, color and size.
Palynology is the study of pollen grains and other spores. Determination of the pollen, brought by the bees to the hive, can help us to map the foraging areas of the bees. It can give us useful information on the environment, for a wide range of purposes.
The pollen database is a project in collaboration with Masatoshi Funabashi from the Sony Research Lab in Tokyo. June 2013 we decided to work on a joined research project that investigates the link between insects, pollen and ecosystems. We will set up a database and compare pollen -straight from the plant- with pollen brought back by honeybees to the hive. With microscopy photography and pattern recognition software we hope to collect, compare and exchange information about the ecosystems foraged by the honeybees (and other insects).

The last weeks I colletected yet on several days pollen at the entrance of the beehives. I also have a pollen collected from spring this year.
On 21/22/23-8 I can work at the Chemical Engineering Lab of the VUB on the SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope). The SEM offers the possibility to make perfect 3D images at +20.000 enlargment scale. Ideal for photographing pollen and bee-parts as proboscis, receptors, e.g.
The lab is specialized in surface metals research. I work with Gizem Süngü, a future PhD student. … (read more…)

Palynology is the “study of dust” . A classic palynologist analyses particulate samples collected from the air, water, or from deposits including sediments of any age. The condition and identification of those particles, organic and inorganic, give the palynologist clues to the life, the environment, and energetic conditions that produced them. wikipedia.
At Sony CSL in Tokyo I meet Masatoshi Funabashi. Masa is an expert in complex systems relations in ecologies. We talk about flowers and insects, and we decide to work with honeybees (among other insects) to collect usefull information on the ecosystem. The bees will work as … (read more…)

Masatoshi sends me an USB microscope to start developing our pollen database. I will photograph pollen brought back by the honeybees, and also pollen found in the garden.
Masa will do the same, and over a while we hope to establish a body of materials, starting to do some machine learning and later do pattern recognition. Another possibility is to compare the microscope pictures with existing pollen databases. … (read more…)