The University of Plymouth in partnership with B4 (a community interest company: Bringing Back Black Bees) and funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) have started a 4 year PhD project to investigate suggestions from bee-keepers that different sub-species have a suite of different behaviours and characteristics in comparison to other sub-species, and further that these might be highly regional in their nature.
The project will measure these differences, and match those with genetic signatures to confirm the lineage of bees showing different traits. It also aims to identify the parts of the genome that might be under rapid change in these sub-species.
While some of the trait differences might be well-established in the bee-keeping community, to date published, robust empirical evidence is lacking. The kinds of traits that we’re interested in gathering data on are, for example, drone brood timings, worker brood cycle, and thriftiness. We will investigate these traits using a bee keeping survey.
The survey has been designed in collaboration with bee-keepers and tries to get as much detail as possible whilst at the same time being practical and feasible for bee-keepers to complete. It will require you to measure and record specific parameters throughout the season, some of which you would be completed as part of your usual routine.
We need as many people to fill in the survey as possible and the project relies on the bee keeping community for its success. The survey is open to all bee keepers regardless of the sub-species you keep.
This is your opportunity to be part of scientific research on honey bees. There will be regular updates and feedback on the project as it unfolds.