Bee researchers at Van Hall Larenstein and Inholland join forces


The applied universities of VHL University of Applied Sciences (VHL) and Inholland will join forces in the field of applied research over the next few years, in order to improve the health of bees and pollinating insects in general and to strive for the sustainable pollination of crops. Professor Frens Pries and associate professor Arjen Strijkstra will take the lead here.

The applied research group for ‘bee health’ at VHL has been enhanced as of January, with the inclusion of professor Frens Pries and associate professor Arjen Strijkstra, who will cover the topic of ‘bees and biodiversity’. In addition, Frens Pries was appointed professor for ‘the sustainable pollination of crops’ at Inholland. Pries and Strijkstra have known each other within this field for some time and are looking forward to an intensive cooperation. Pries: “The cooperation between our universities, with their own regional positioning and profiling, offers great opportunities, and the research themes complement each other nicely. This allows us to make a greater contribution to the national bee strategy.”

Towards a healthier insect landscape

According to Strijkstra and Pries, the situation is not only dire for (honey) bees; there is a massive decline in all (pollinating) insects as well. This requires a broader approach. By combining the applied research group for ‘bee health’ with the research line ‘sustainable pollination of crops’ Pries meets the research needs that exist in bee-keeping. Pries: “Professional bee-keepers are experiencing major problems with bee health, while the food supply largely depends on pollination by honey bees. The deployment of honey bees and ensuring proper living conditions are essential elements of pollination.”

Recent insect research

“VHL has been involved in projects such as the EU-Interreg project B-RAP, which originated from ‘silence of the bees’ as well as the Raak-PRO research project ‘sustainable suppression of the Varroa mite in Dutch bee-keeping’ in close cooperation with the Inholland University of Applied Sciences,” says Strijkstra. “Furthermore, we are involved in many other projects, such as the KNCL projects ‘together for bees’ and ‘long-term insect monitoring’. We also support local initiatives for businesses and social organisations via ‘silence of the bees’ bee pacts. In recent years, Pries’s work at the Inholland University of Applied Sciences has mainly focused on research into viruses in bees as well as pesticides in honey and wax – a CoE food project in cooperation with the Bijkersgilde.

Strijkstra: “Broadening our research allows us to focus more on improving the landscape for all insects, including bees and honey bees.” Pries provides an example: “We will engage in more intensive cooperation with landscape researchers at Inholland Delft and other universities.”

Professors Frens Pries (left) and Arjen Strijkstra (right)
Professors Frens Pries (left) and Arjen Strijkstra (right)