Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New technique could help solve mystery of vanishing bees

Date:
March 23, 2011
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Ecologists have developed a better way of rearing bee larvae in the laboratory that could help discover why honey bee populations worldwide are declining. The technique, together with details of how statistics adapted from other areas of ecology can aid bee research, is published in a new article.

Ecologists have developed a better way of rearing bee larvae in the laboratory that could help discover why honey bee populations worldwide are declining. The technique, together with details of how statistics adapted from other areas of ecology can aid bee research, is published in the British Ecological Society's journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

Human food security depends on bees because they pollinate so many of our crop plants. As a result, worldwide declines in both honey bee colonies and solitary bees are causing widespread concern. But faced with declines that seem due to the combination of several factors, including diseases, agricultural chemicals and loss of habitat, researchers urgently need better ways of studying bees in the laboratory.

Now, a team of ecologists from the University of Würzburg, Germany has devised a better way of rearing honey bee larvae in the laboratory that should make it easier to study the causes of their decline.

The current method of rearing bees in the laboratory has major drawbacks. It involves a process known as "grafting," where the tiny first instar bee larvae around 1mm long are collected using feathers, brushes or needles. As well as being time consuming and demanding considerable skill, the mechanical stress involved in handling causes mortality among the tiny larvae.

To avoid handling the larvae, the researchers allowed honey bee queens to lay eggs directly into an artificial plastic honeycomb about the size of a cigar box. The plastic honeycomb is widely used by professional honey bee queen breeders, and by using in the laboratory the team found rearing bee larvae much easier and more successful.

According to lead author and keen bee-keeper Harmen Hendriksma: "The artificial comb has a hexagonal pattern with 110 holes the size of wax cells. The queen lays her eggs directly into these small plastic cells. Because the back of each cell has a small plastic cup, we can collect the larvae without handling them."

Before starting his PhD in 2008, Hendriksma spent four years working with a new Dutch company producing honey for medical uses. Seeing it used by queen breeders, he decided to try out the plastic honeycomb in the laboratory.

"Like many people I am a bit lazy and wanted to find a quicker, easier way of rearing honey bees in the laboratory. When I tried using the plastic honeycomb system I found it was just perfect," he says.

Hendriksma and his colleagues found that when using the plastic honeycomb, almost all (97%) larvae survived. And because it is straightforward and simple to use, researchers were able to collect more than 1,000 larvae in 90 minutes.

By introducing a robust, standardised way of rearing larvae the technique should also help improve the quality of bee research because the results of experiments conducted in different laboratories will be more directly comparable.

The study also shows that applying statistical approaches used in other areas of ecological science can help bee researchers to better analyse their results.

Says Hendriksma: "Bee research is like an arms race, where researchers try and keep up with monitoring emerging new risks to bees. Because so many factors -- such as environmental pollution, new agricultural pesticides, bee diseases, changing habitats and bees' genes -- may be playing a part in the loss of our bees we need better ways of analysing our results."

The study was funded by the German ministry for education and research (BMBF, Berlin).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Harmen P. Hendriksma, Stephan Härtel, Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter. Honey bee risk assessment: new approaches for in vitro larvae rearing and data analyses. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.2041-210X.2011.00099.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "New technique could help solve mystery of vanishing bees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321201649.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2011, March 23). New technique could help solve mystery of vanishing bees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321201649.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "New technique could help solve mystery of vanishing bees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110321201649.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) — Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) — With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida

AP (July 31, 2014) — Sarasota County, Florida health officials have issued a warning against eating raw oysters and exposing open wounds to coastal and inland waters after a dangerous bacteria killed one person and made another sick. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) — Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:  

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile iPhone Android Web
    Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins