National Bee Census wins NWO Communication Initiative Award 2021

November 29th, 2021
Iedereen kan bijen tellen! De Bijentelling helpt jong en oud om verschillende soorten bijen te onderscheiden. Credit: Naturalis Biodiversity Center.

The Dutch National Bee Census was named the winner of the NWO Communication Initiative Award 2021. The jury praised the initiative for the innovative way it reaches a wider audience, calling the project 'a prime example of citizen science'. The National Bee Census shares the award with KlimaatHelpdesk.

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science communication

From November 29 to December 3, the NWO domain of Exact and Natural Sciences (ENW) will award five special scientific prizes for the second time. One of these is the Communication Initiative Award. The prize rewards scientists for their efforts and the way they inspire others in the field of science communication. As the winner, the Dutch National Bee Census receives an amount of € 10,000, intended for communication activities.

Biodiversity crisis
in your living room


The National Bee Census is an initiative of bee experts Prof. Dr. Koos Biesmeijer and Dr. Ing. Vincent Kalkman, both associated with Naturalis. At the annual event, everyone in the Netherlands can participate in scientific research. A national campaign makes the general public aware of the importance of wild bees for our food, and gets young and old to spend half an hour counting the different species of bees in their own gardens. According to the jury, in this way the researchers bring an important and urgent topic, the biodiversity crisis, directly into the living rooms of all Dutch people. 

The jury praised the ease with which participants can participate in the study. "With this initiative, the researchers are able to reach a very broad and diverse audience, which is introduced to science and nature. In addition, the researchers not only increase society's involvement in scientific research, but also call for the protection of the bee, and provide concrete tools for doing so," according to the NWO jury. The jury sees this as a prime example of citizen science.


The researchers and the team of the National Bee Census are incredibly proud of the prize. Kalkman: "Everyone is becoming increasingly aware of the importance of wild bees and wants to commit to it, the National Bee Count makes that possible. It is wonderful to see that our efforts for this are appreciated in this way." The annual garden counts contribute to the research on wild bees in the Netherlands. It gives researchers new insight into, for example, the differences between regions, or the urban environment and the countryside. 

The team already has ideas for how to use the money won: "Thanks to the prize, we can reach even more people. We are going to explore how we can get even more participants and certain groups to join the count, such as schools. It should be possible for everyone to contribute to the protection of wild bees," said Biesmeijer. The National Bee Count 2022 is on the weekend of April 23 & 24.

the National Bee Census

The National Bee Census is an annual study conducted by Naturalis, LandschappenNL, IVN Natuureducatie and Natuur & Milieu and carried out by citizens. The research provides scientists with insight into the trends of bee populations in the Netherlands. By learning more about the state of the bees in our country, the bee can be better protected. The bee count is organized in cooperation with EIS Kenniscentrum Insecten and