International Bee Research Association
The world’s longest established apicultural research publishers
A new method for observing honey bee behaviour
Observation hives have been used to study the behaviour of honey bees since the pioneering studies of François Huber in the 18th century. Observation hives generally consist of glass walled hives containing a small number of combs and bees. A frequent objection to their use is that they are usually housed and observed in daylight or artificial light, in contrast to the darkness of a natural bee nest. It has therefore been a criticism that results obtained using observation hives may not always represent normal behaviour. In a new study published in the Journal of Apicultural Research, Kaspar Bienefeld and colleagues from the Institute for Bee Research, Hohen Neuendorf, Germany, outline a new method for the long term undisturbed observation of bee behaviour under infra-red light, which minimises these problems.
Their novel setup comprises a glass walled observation unit consisting of a single comb containing a queen bee, workers and brood, together with an infra-red camera unit, and a supporting unit consisting of many combs of bees which is contiguous with the observation unit via a wire gauze. The supporting unit provides the normal temperature and humidity conditions of a complete colony, ensuring that conditions remain as normal as possible.
As an example of the use of this technique, the authors studied so called “hygienic behaviour”, whereby bees genetically disposed to being hygienic, remove diseased pupae from the hive, in this instance due to infestation by the parasitic mite varroa. Although it has previously been clearly demonstrated that hygienic bees will remove pupae infested with varroa, the mechanisms whereby the bees identify that the cells are infested have remained unclear.
As described in the paper, the results of this study provide support for the hypothesis that bees are using foreign odours to detect the varroa mites and remove them from the hive.
IBRA Science Director Norman Carreck says: “This new technique will allow researchers to study undisturbed honey bee behaviour, and will have many uses in bee research”.
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NOTES FOR EDITORS:-
1. The paper: “A novel method for undisturbed long-term observation of honey bee (Apis mellifera) behavior – illustrated by hygienic behavior towards varroa infestation” by Kaspar Bienefeld, Fred Zautke and Pooja is available here:-
2. The International Bee Research Association (IBRA) founded in 1949 is the world’s longest established apicultural research publishers and promotes the value of bees by providing information on bee science and beekeeping worldwide.
3. In association with the Taylor & Francis Group, IBRA publishes Bee World, founded by the Apis Club in 1919. This is now an accessible and topical journal containing the latest bee research, news, reviews and other relevant information for the bee scientist, beekeeper, and anyone with an interest in bees. It is published four times a year: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tbee#.
4. In association with the Taylor & Francis Group, IBRA publishes the peer-reviewed scientific journal the Journal of Apicultural Research, founded by IBRA in 1962. It includes original research articles, theoretical papers; scientific notes and comments; together with authoritative reviews on scientific aspects of the biology, ecology, natural history, conservation and culture of all types of bee. It is published five times a year. The ISI Impact Factor (2015) is 2.084 and the ISI 5-year Impact Factor is 2.003: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/tjar#.VdWK8_lVikp
5. IBRA publishes and sells books on bee science, bee conservation and beekeeping and also provides bee information services. IBRA is a Registered Charity, and its Council of Trustees boasts some of the world’s leading bee scientists.
6. IBRA membership rates 2016:-
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