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PLAN4BEE – planning the monitoring of African bees

JKI coordinates a new project funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to initiate collaborations between African and German researchers in order to monitor and protect pollinators in agroecosystems. Website recently launched.

(Braunschweig) Since March 2024, the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) has been coordinating a DFG-funded project, which aims to help protect bees in sub-Sahara African countries. For the next 12 months, the Institute for Bee Protection at the JKI in Braunschweig will receive around 67,000 Euros for establishing a collaboration between four African and four German partner institutions working hand-in-hand in the PLAN4BEE project under the umbrella of the „African-German Scientific Exchange: Sustainable Intensification of Agriculture“. This initiative was set up by the German Research Foundation (DFG) to strengthen research and knowledge transfer between African and German scientists by funding the initiation of international collaborations. Researchers at the PLAN4BEE partner institutions study agro-ecosystems of Sub-Sahara Africa in order to explore effects of land use changes, agricultural intensification and pesticide use on pollinating insects.

Dr. Anke Dietzsch at the Julius Kühn Institute in Braunschweig points out: “Pollinating insects face a multitude of interacting stressors, including world-wide spreading pathogens and pests as well as climate change. A major driver of changes in insect communities that pollinate wild and domesticated plants is the more intensified and constantly changing agriculture.“

The aim of PLAN4BEE is to establish a collaboration network with honey and wild bee researchers, pollination ecologists, ecotoxicologists, agroecologists, graphic data analysts and KI experts along a west-to-east sub-Sahara trajectory including the Ivory Coast, Benin, Cameroon, and Kenya. The researchers will then develop a proposal for the second stage of the initiative, which will focus on the effects of land-use changes and pesticide exposure on plants, bees and pollination interactions. Dr. Abdulrahim Alkassab from the JKI explains: “At the first stage, all partners at the German and African institutions will combine and harmonize skills to establish standardized working methods across countries adapted to local conditions.“ Project partners will share their expertise on residue analysis of pesticides, optimize bee keeping practices and explore remote sensing and AI methods for their bee monitoring activities.

More information on the project: https://wissen.julius-kuehn.de/plan4bee/en/.

Two workshops in Bonn (8.4.) and Braunschweig (15.4.) mark the start of the project. They will be proceeded by visits of the African researchers at all German partner institutions. During this period, the consortium will work on a joint strategy and project proposal. A third workshop in Cameroon in September 2024 will give the opportunity to get further African stakeholders involved in the initiative.

The project planned for the second stage of the initiative focusses on the establishment of a long-term standardized pollinator monitoring across the African partner countries. Further topics that will be addressed by the project include pollination processes and efficiency in cash crops such as cashew and cotton; risks of commonly used pesticides to local bee communities; land-use characteristics and their influence on bee assemblages. The project also aims to add bee specimens to taxonomic reference collections and databases in the African partner countries. The monitoring of pollinators, associated plants, and their interactions will be based on a set of methods such as pan trapping, hand netting along transects, recordings via Dynamic Vision Sensors as well as pollinator exclusion and pollen manipulation experiments.

By jointly researching and addressing these topics in the partner countries, PLAN4BEE will help to establish and further develop pesticide risk assessment and management systems across country borders in the long term.

Fact Sheet PLAN4BEE:

Project title: “Monitoring agro-ecosystems of sub-Saharan Africa: Pesticides and land use as stressors for plants, bees and pollination interactions“ - PLAN4BEE

Website: https://wissen.julius-kuehn.de/plan4bee/en/

Start date: 01.03.2024

Partnering institutions


  • Department of Animal Biology, University Peleforo Gon Coulibaly of Korhogo, Korhogo, Ivory Coast
  • National School of Biosciences and Applied Biotechnologies (ENSBBA)/National University of Sciences, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics (UNSTIM), Abomey, Benin
  • School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Kenyatta University, Kenya
  • Faculty of Science, University of Ngaoundéré, Ngaoundéré, Cameroon


  • Institute for Bee Protection, Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, Braunschweig
  • Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, University of Applied Sciences, Hochschule Niederrhein, Krefeld
  • Biodiversity Research/Systematic Botany, University of Potsdam
  • Apicultural State Institute, University of Hohenheim, Stuttgart

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