Scientists at the University of Warwick and Rothamsted Research have been awarded 1Million by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) in partnership with Syngenta, to research the decline of honeybees.
UK government figures suggest bee numbers have fallen by 10-15% over the last 2 years; the British Beekeepers' Association (BBKA) quotes a figure nearer 30% for 2008. Since the declines were first reported a number of factors have been suggested. Most scientists now believe that a complex of interacting factors is the most likely cause.
University of Warwick researcher Dr David Chandler said "Honeybees are well known for their vital role as pollinators of crops, wild flowers and garden plants, but unfortunately their populations are in decline. We know that parasitic diseases caused by the varroa mite are partly to blame, but we think that there is also a link between these diseases and the quality of pollen and nectar that the bees are feeding on. Each bee colony contains about fifty thousand bees in the summer, and so you can appreciate that the interactions between each bee, their various diseases and food quality are highly complex. The only way to tackle this is to use advanced mathematics combined with lab and field experiments. This is precisely what we are doing in this project. "
Lead researcher, Dr Juliet Osborne said: "Bees living on agricultural landscapes have a lot to deal with! They must respond to sudden changes in availability of food pollen and nectar whist dealing with a variety of diseases, parasites and other stresses. This project will provide us with a unique insight into how disease and food supply affect the survival of bees in farmed landscapes."
The team will use a combination of field work and computer modelling to look at how the bees' behaviour outside the hive, while looking for food, interacts with what is affecting bees in the hive factors that have historicall
|Contact: Dr. David Chandler|
University of Warwick