NINA's pollination research group

We address knowledge needs to implement Norway’s National Pollinator Strategy, a strategy for viable populations of wild bees and other pollinating insects.

Foto © Arnstein Staverløkk/NINA

NINA's pollination research group is a cross-disciplinary team with expertise in the fields of ecology, entomology, landscape ecology, genetics and molecular ecology, and ecological economics, and dealing with the ecology of pollinators and their resources, and the ecosystem services which they generate. We study the distribution and ecology of mainly bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees, and evaluate the different benefits that they provide for society and individuals. We use a range of research approaches including research-based observations, citizen science, and monitoring data.  We conduct assessments and research funded by Norwegian management authorities, the Research Council of Norway and the EU. 

Research areas

Currently, we have the following areas of research

Predicting floral visitation frequencies by wild bees and local pollination potential Through MetaComNet (2020-2022) we aim to develop a modelling framework that can predict the structure of interaction networks and the sustenance of associated ecosystem functions. In this project we use a combination of simulated data, data from digital repositories, and data from our own ecological surveys. We will use ecological networks consisting of floral visitations by wild bees as a model system because bee-plant interactions can lead to pollination. We will conduct pollen limitation experiments to test if the predicted structure of bee-plant networks corresponds to the actual pollen limitation within plant communities. We will collaborate with researchers at Aarhus University in Denmark, Oslo University (UiO), The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO). MetaComNet: Linking metacommunity dynamics to the structure of ecological networks and ecosystem functioning is financed by the Research Council Norway (Young Research Talents – FRIPRO).

Mapping habitats that support pollinator diversity. In this research line we assess how habitat management practices affect the quality of wild bee habitats and model the distribution of these habitats.  We study commonly managed, restored and endangered habitats, and the extent to which they are a resource for wild bees and how their importance varies with habitat quality and its location in the landscape.  This research supports decisions about where to allocate conservation efforts in the landscape by identifying where management practices will render most bee biodiversity conservation gains (POLLILAND). 

Mapping landscape pollinator capacity. This research stream aims at mapping pollinator potential, capacity and use. One applied aim of this research is to provided recommendations on spatial stocking density of honey beehives in different landscapes
•    Pollinator habitat potential maps (ESTIMAP). Read more about mapping of urban green structures.
•    Regional pollinator diversity habitat mapping (POLLILAND)
•    Honey-bees flight probability maps based on waggle dance

The interactions between honey bees and wild bees. The city of Oslo has an active and dedicated bee keeping community at the same time that the area of the city and its surroundings is a hot-spot of wild bee diversity in Norway. We use field surveys, molecular techniques, citizen science to increase the knowledge and provide guidance about how wild bees and domestic bees can be managed to avoid negative impacts on native bees.  The research places emphasis on co-production of research with beekeepers. Our research aims to support decisions about beehive stocking densities that enable the coexistence of honey bees and wild bees. 

Local knowledge, cultural ecosystem services and plural values. Flower meadows, wild bees and honey bees are used in the discourse as representations of urban biodiversity.  Urban beekeeping is a recreational outdoor activity and an activity embodying local landscape knowledge and apicultural practices.   As such it represents a mix of cultural ecosystem services with plural values/motivations.  The research focuses on understanding the links between local knowledge of wild and domestic bees, attitudes and land use and beekeeping management actions.  The research places emphasis on co-production of research with beekeepers.  Read more about this on the pages of our URBAN SIS-project (in Norwegian).

The importance of pollinators for mountain plants. Pollination of plants by wild pollinators is the fundamental mechanism by which a large majority of flowering plants can maintain genetic and trait diversity and reproduce successfully. In CLIMATE ECOTONES, we study the preference of bumblebees species for different mountain flowering plants, and their importance for the reproduction of a keystone species in the Norwegian mountains, bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) along climatic gradients. 

The relationship between the landscape, pollination and yield. We assess the condition of Norwegian ecosystems and their capacity to generate ecosystem services. Read more about the pollination services project. 

Monitoring of bumblebees and butterflies. Bumblebees and butterflies play important roles in the ecosystem, and are also vulnerable for environmental changes. Thus, they can function as warning signs. Read more about NINAs monitoring of bumblebees and butterflies (in Norwegian).

Team members

Graciela M. Rusch (Group contact)

David N. Barton

Rakel Blålid

Joseph Chipperfield

Sondre Dahle

Jane Jepsen

Erik Stange

Markus Sydenham

Arnstein Staverløkk

Jens Åström

Sandra Åström


Sydenham, M. A. K., S. R. Moe, and K. Eldegard. 2020. When context matters: Spatial prediction models of environmental conditions can identify target areas for wild bee habitat management interventions. Landscape and Urban Planning 193:103673.

Sydenham, M. A. K., S. R. Moe, M. Steinert, and K. Eldegard. 2019. Univariate Community Assembly Analysis (UniCAA): Combining hierarchical models with null models to test the influence of spatially restricted dispersal, environmental filtering, and stochasticity on community assembly. Ecology and Evolution 9:1473-1488.

Stange, E., G. Zulian, G. M. Rusch, D. N. Barton, and M. Nowel. 2018. Ecosystem services mapping for municipal policy: ESTIMAP and zoning for urban beekeeping. One Ecosystem 2:e14014.

Stange, E., D. N. Barton, and G. M. Rusch. 2018. A closer look at Norway’s natural capital—how enhancing urban pollination promotes cultural ecosystem services in Oslo. Pages 235-243 in

M. L. Paracchini, P. C. Zingari, and C. Blasi, editors. Reconnecting natural and cultural capital. European Commission, Brussels, Belgium.

Kallioniemi, E., J. Åström, G. M. Rusch, S. Dahle, S. Åström, and J. O. Gjershaug. 2017. Local resources, linear elements and mass-flowering crops determine bumblebee occurrences in moderately intensified farmlands. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment 239:90-100.

Garibaldi et al. 2016. Mutually beneficial pollinator diversity and crop yield outcomes in small and large farms. Science 351:387-391.