By Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium CC02
By Gilles San Martin from Namur, Belgium

Honey Bees are important pollinators, with one in three mouthfuls we eat is reliant on pollination and without them the variety of food we enjoy would be depleted. As many of us are aware Honey bees face a myriad of problems, not all of which we understand but we hope that Build the Buzz will help to improve our understanding and subsequently identify what practical solution we can undertake to provide the support they need.

Problems that we are aware of include the Varroa mite, as pictured. This mite lives within the honey bee colony with young mite larvae feeding off the developing bee within the capped cell. The effect is that the honey bees have reduced resistance to disease and contract things such as Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) all too easily as a consequence.

Climatic changes affect the opportunity to forage and can impede nectar flow whilst also affecting the blooming period of flowers, the source of nectar and pollen. Wet summers can affect the mating of virgin queen bees which will see the demise of a colony,  hot dry summers we relish can also reduce the nectar flow- resulting in starvation. This is information we know BUT what we don’t know is the weather pattern effects on the bees nationwide.

Honey bees are a globally threatened pollinator, and for researchers, the large network of beekeepers that span the UK provide a rich natural dataset that could help us to answer questions about what is causing the decline. For example, if we knew more about how individual hives fare in different landscapes which vary in forage quality, pesticide use and farming style, we would be much closer to understanding the causes of global pollinator decline. Yet at the moment there is no clear way for researchers to tap into this resource.’ – Dr Elli Leadbetter, Lecturer in Molecular Ecology, Royal Holloway University of London

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