Between economic efficiency and idealism: motivations for beekeepers participating in a honey bee health research project
November 14, 2023
Studies involving beekeepers have proven to be an effective tool for honey bee health research. The contributory citizen science project "Virus Monitoring" focused on bee virus prevalence in Austria. It was characterised by reliable cooperation with 211 beekeepers and a drop out rate of only 10%. The participating citizen scientists provided their own bee colonies and carried out sampling and symptom observation in the colonies. At the end of the project, we surveyed the citizen scientists in an online questionnaire about their motivations for participation (n=146). We want to understand the successful participant bond and to make it repeatable for future projects. For more than 90% of the beekeepers, both practical reasons, such as improving the health of their own bees at low cost, and idealistic reasons, such as supporting science and the environment and expanding their own knowledge, played an important role. Future citizen science projects should address beekeepers in their multiple roles: as agricultural (micro) entrepreneurs, as people interested in science and knowledge, and as responsible caretakers of an ecologically important pollinator species.
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