Studying Nordic brown bees

Imagine a bee collecting nectar and pollen from a flower. Their job as pollinators is one of the most important biological processes on our planet. Our survival depends on bees and other pollinators. But within recent years, reports show that our bees are not feeling well. To find out the wellbeing of different Swedish and Norwegian bee species we are going to compare these species in our research project, Supporting Nordic brown bees.

Supporting Nordic brown bees

When we carrying out our reserach and compare Nordic brown bees, we will systematically document the characteristics of the bee that are important for their job as pollinating wild and cultivated plants. These characteristics will probably also differ with climatic and environmental conditions. The results of the study will help build a more resistant Nordic brown bee to better withstand environmental changes.

Our different bees

The Nordic brown bee, also called honey bee, have very old ancestors in Europe and many locally adapted breeds have developed over several thousand years. In Scandinavia we have the Nordic bee (Apis mellifera mellifera) which today is a threatened breed. Both our broen bee and wild bees perform critically important ecosystem services, especially the pollinators of our wild plants and utility plants. The economic value is very large and we are dependent on a prosperous bee society.

The different species and the subspecies' characteristics of finding food and the effect of their pollination vary. Research shows that they have developed local adaptations to the environment and climate, but the majority of our knowledge rests on anecdotal basis and is in great need of scientific support through systematic collection of data in comparative studies over a longer period.

Five apiaries in Norway and Sweden

Supporting nordic bees is a Norwegian-Swedish collaboration. Together we intend to set up five apiaries in Norway and Sweden where all Nordic bee breeds, namely A. m. mellifera, carnica, ligustica, and the hybrid Buckfast will be compared. We will study e.g. the longevity of worker bees, phenology of larval production, pollen spectrum and diversity of pollen harvest, and resistance to pathogens. 

We predict that the results will be important not only for a more efficient sustainable beekeeping, but they will also support the protection of pollination services in ecosystems, to the long term benefit of the biodiversity and the ecosystem function. 

Create awareness among the public

There are annually alarming reports about the reduction of pollinators. Therefore, an important part of the project is knowledge and awareness among the public about the project through media and science centers. At Nordens Ark a demo-path will be constructed with pollination and bee ecology being the main theme. .

The project in the media

Press release:

Collaborating partnersPartners i projektet Bistånd

Supporting Nordic bees is financed by


For more information:

Sonja Leidenberger
School of Bioscience
Associate Senior Lecturer in Bioscience
Work: 0500-448666

Project leader

  • Stiftelsen Nordens Ark (Swedish project owner)
  • Norges Biøkterlag (Norweigan projektägare)

Project in short

Name: Supporting Nordic brown bees – a unique resource for our ecosystem services

Durance: 2019-01-01 to  2021-12-31

Financed by: INTERREG Sverige-Norge Europeiska regionala utvecklingsfonden

Collaborating partners: Stiftelsen Nordens Ark, Norges Biøkterlag, University of Skövde, Umeå University and Göteborg University.

Researchers in project 

Sonja Leidenberger
School of Bioscience
Associate Senior Lecturer in Bioscience 

Niclas Norrström
School of Bioscience
Senior Lecturer in Bioscience