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Please find attached the 8th quarterly newsletter on the Healthy Bees Plan. Much has been achieved since we last wrote to you in April. Including the establishment of a delivering education group and the completion of sample collecting for the Random Apiary Survey.


Health of Livestock and Honeybees in England

defra/National Audit Office

Report - March 4, 2009

download here (pdf)

Honey Bee Health Strategy In Scotland [2008]

Read more... (pdf)

New Holland has joined the fight to find solutions to the problems which are threatening and killing Britain’s honeybees.


United Nations Environment Programme report on Honeybee Diseases

Click here to download the report


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View wealth of articles and patents on Google Scholar... (sample search shown - 'Apis Mellifera')


The National Bee Unit is the home of the web based database of beekeepers in England and Wales.

Sussex Plan for Honeybee Health and Well Being        

Research News

Professor Francis Ratnieks - Professor of Apiculture at the University of Sussex - outlines his five year plan of four projects specifically designed to improve the health of honeybees. 'Beekeepers are responsible for keeping their hives alive and having good management. But where does good management come from? We believe it will come from good science which will look at how to combat these pests [described earlier] so that beekeepers can follow good practice as determined by research.'

Link to Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at Sussex University

Healthy Bees

Protecting & improving the health of honeybees in England and Wales

March 2009

Honeybee virus: Varroa mite spreads lethal disease

By Victoria Gill

BBC - June 7, 2012

A parasitic mite has helped a virus wipe out billions of honeybees throughout the globe, say scientists. A team studying honeybees in Hawaii found that the Varroa mite helped spread a particularly nasty strain of a disease called deformed wing virus. The mites act as tiny incubators of one deadly form of the disease, and inject it directly into the bees' blood. This has led to "one of the most widely-distributed and contagious insect viruses on the planet".

Link to article on BBC

Link to video on BBC

Link to original article in Journal of Science

Winter honey bee losses decline [in US] By Lee Tune

PhysOrg - June 1, 2012

Total losses of managed honey bee colonies from all causes dropped to 21.9 percent nationwide for the 2011/2012 winter, a decline of some 8 percentage points or 27 percent from the approximately 30 percent average loss beekeepers have experienced in recent winters, according to the latest annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership, the Apiary Inspectors of America and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Link to article on PhysOrg

Workers can rebel against their queen

Photo M.Gabriel/Naturepl.com

The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

BBC - May 1, 2012

Family disputes create rebel bees. Worker bees rebel when faced with the prospect of raising their nephews and nieces, research has found. Scientists in Poland have studied post-swarm bee colonies to understand how workers react to a change in queen. They discovered that when a daughter replaces her mother as head of the colony, some worker bees reproduce instead of caring for their monarch's offspring.

Link to article on BBC

Selenium impacts honey bee behaviour and survival

eScienceNews - April 25, 2012

Entomologists at the University of California, Riverside have a "proof of concept" that selenium, a nonmetal chemical element, can disrupt the foraging behavior and survival of honey bees. Selenium in very low concentrations is necessary for the normal development of insects and humans but becomes toxic at only slightly higher concentrations when it replaces sulfur in amino acids. In soils, particularly in Pacific Rim countries and near coal-fired power plants worldwide, it occurs most often in soluble forms, such as selenate.

Link to article on eScienceNews

Link to article on EurekAlert

Link to article on PhysOrg

Selenium impacts honey bee behaviour and survival


Can behaviour be controlled by genes?

The case of honeybee work assignments

eScience News - April 18, 2012

What worker bees do depends on how old they are. A worker a few days old will become a nurse bee that devotes herself to feeding larvae (brood), secreting beeswax to seal the cells that contain brood and attending to the queen. After about a week, she will progress to other tasks, such as grooming nest mates, ventilating the nest and packing pollen. Only at the end of her life will she become a forager, venturing forth to collect nectar and pollen for the colony.

Link to article in eScience News

Virulence of mixed fungal infections in honey bee brood

7th Space Interactive - March 23, 2012

Honey bees, Apis mellifera, have a diverse community of pathogens. Previous research has mostly focused on bacterial brood diseases of high virulence, but milder diseases caused by fungal pathogens have recently attracted more attention.This interest has been triggered by partial evidence that co-infection with multiple pathogens has the potential to accelerate honey bee mortality. In the present study we tested whether co-infection with closely related fungal brood-pathogen species that are either specialists or non-specialist results in higher host mortality than infections with a single specialist.

Link to article on 7th Space Interactive

Bumblebees get by with a little help from their honeybee rivals

EurekAlert - February 14, 2012

Bumblebees can use cues from their rivals the honeybees to learn where the best food resources are, according to new research from Queen Mary, University of London. Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, the team from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences explain how they trained a colony of bumblebees (Bombus terrestris) to use cues provided by a different species, the honeybee (Apis mellifera), as well as cues provided by fellow bumblebees to locate food resources on artificial flowers. They found that the bumblebees were able to learn the information from the honeybees just as efficiently as when the information came from their own species, demonstrating that social learning is not a unique process limited members of the same species.

Link to article on EurekAlert

Link to article on SciNews

Link to abstract and text in PLoS ONE

Bee hive hums recorded to monitor insects' health

By Mark Ward

BBC - February 1, 2012

Honey bees use vibration to communicate while inside the hive. Monitoring devices are being put in bee hives across Scotland as part of a project to keep an eye on their health. The monitors record temperature and use a microphone to record the hum the bees make while working and resting. Already the project has started to show the many different hums bees use to co-ordinate their work. The project is also helping to work out which environmental forces and factors are behind the decline in bees and other pollinators.

Link to article (and audio) on BBC

Pesticides blamed for bee decline

By Jonathan Own

Independent - January 20, 2012

Compelling new evidence from the US government's top bee expert that modern pesticides may be a major cause of collapsing bee populations led to calls yesterday for the chemicals to be banned. A study published in the current issue of the German science journal Naturwissenschaften, reveals how bees given minute doses of the widely used pesticide imidacloprid became more vulnerable to infections from a deadly parasite, nosema.

Link to article on Independent

Social or solitary: It’s in bees’ genes

Futurity - December 15, 2011

A new study of different types of bees—bumble bees, honey bees, stingless bees, and solitary bees—offers a first look at the genetic underpinnings of their different lifestyles. Most people have trouble telling them apart, but these different bee species have home lives that are as different from one another as a monarch’s palace is from a hippie commune or a hermit’s cabin in the woods.

Link to article on Futurity

(Futurity - Research news from top universities in the US, UK, Canada and Australia)

Protein Love Triangle Key to Crowning Queen Bees

BioScience Technology - November 11, 2011

A honey bee becomes a royal queen or a common worker as a result of the food she receives as a larva. While it has been well established that royal jelly is the diet that makes bees queens, the molecular path from food to queen is still in dispute. However, scientists at Arizona State University, led by Adam Dolezal and Gro Amdam, have helped reconcile some of the conflicts about bee development and the role of insulin pathways and partner proteins. Their article "IIS and TOR nutrient-signaling pathways act via juvenile hormone to influence honey bee cast fate" has been published in the December issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Link to article BioScience Technology

Antibiotic dangers trap bees in a Catch 22

By Mathew Thompson

PhysOrg - November 2, 2011

Honey bees are trapped in a Catch 22 where antibiotics used to protect them from bacterial illnesses ravaging hives are making them die from commonly used pesticides, some of which are used to ward-off bee-killing parasites.

Link to article on PhysOrg

Nutrigenomics in honey bees: Digital gene expression analysis of pollen's nutritive effects on healthy and varroa-parasitized bees

7th Space Interactive - October 10, 2011

Malnutrition is a major factor affecting animal health, resistance to disease and survival. In honey bees (Apis mellifera), pollen, which is the main dietary source of proteins, amino acids and lipids, is essential to adult bee physiological development while reducing their susceptibility to parasites and pathogens. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying pollen's nutritive impact on honey bee health remained to be determined. For that purpose, we investigated the influence of pollen nutrients on the transcriptome of worker bees parasitized by the mite Varroa destructor, known for suppressing immunity and decreasing lifespan.

Link to article in 7th Space Interactive

Updated genome assembly and annotation of Paenibacillus larvae, the agent of American foulbrood disease of honey bees

7th Space Interactive - September 16, 2011

As scientists continue to pursue various 'omics-based research, there is a need for high quality data for the most fundamental 'omics of all: genomics. The bacterium Paenibacillus larvae is the causative agent of the honey bee disease American foulbrood. If untreated, it can lead to the demise of an entire hive; the highly social nature of bees also leads to easy disease spread, between both individuals and colonies. Biologists have studied this organism since the early 1900s, and a century later, the molecular mechanism of infection remains elusive.

Link to article on 7th Space Interactive

Honeybees are tracked with data-matrix codes and Pictor smart cameras

By John Wallace

Laserfocusworld - September 12, 2011

Suhl, Germany--Scientists in the BEEgroup at the University of Würzburg research the biology of the honeybee and study ways to keep bee populations healthy; now they're keeping track of their honeybees by attaching a different 2D data-matrix code to each bee. This is being done through the HOneyBee Online Studies (HOBOS) project. Jürgen Tautz is the founder of the BEEgroup and developed the HOBOS concept.

Link to article on Laserfocusworld

photo Würzburg University

Buzz word is bees have own language

By Jenny Fyall

Scotsman - September 11, 2011

HONEY bee hives across Scotland have been fitted with sound-monitoring computers to test a theory the insects have an entire language previously unknown to humans. Researchers believe the insects may make different noises when they are plagued by disease, have lost their queen or are being poisoned by pesticides. If scientists can learn to interpret the sounds it could help stop mass declines of the crucial pollinators across the globe, scientists believe.

Link to article on Scotsman

Insect pollination work at East Malling Research Centre

BBC - July 20, 2011

Researchers have been presenting their work on pollinating insects at a fruit industry event at the East Malling Research Centre in Kent. A £10m, five-year initiative to find alternative species to honey bees which help with fruit pollination is being carried out by the University of Reading and the Kent-based fruit marketing company Norman Collett. The impact of varroa mite and colony collapse disorder on honey bee species has led to concerns in the fruit industry that pollination problems could cause food shortages. Kent, once referred to as the Garden of England, is famous for its fruit production. It is also home to Brogdale Farm in Faversham, which holds the National Fruit Collections, one of the world's largest collections of fruit tree and plant varieties.

Link to article and video on BBC

Photo courtesy BBC

Insect pollination work at East Malling Research Centre

Click here for video

RoboBee speaks honeybee dance language

By Michael Marshall

New Scientist - August 19, 2011

IT SMELLS, it buzzes, it even dances like a honeybee. In a field in Germany, RoboBee is making its first attempts at speaking to the insects in their own language. Bees are famous for communicating using the waggle dance - walking forward while rapidly vibrating their rear. In the 1940s, biologist Karl von Frisch realised that the length and angle of the dance correlated with the distance and direction of the food source the bee had just visited. Since then, most apiologists have held that dancers tell their fellows where to find food. Now Tim Landgraf of the Free University of Berlin in Germany and colleagues have programmed their foam RoboBee, to mimic the dance. RoboBee is stuck to the end of a rod attached to a computer, which determines its "dance" moves. The rod is also connected to a belt which makes it vibrate. Like a real bee, it can spin, buzz its wings, carry scents and droplets of sugar water, and give off heat.

Link to article on New Scientist

Photo NAL

RoboBee speaks honeybee dance language - New Scientist


Bee Line

By Mandy Thoo

Science Alert (Au) - June 21, 2011

For an insect with a brain the size of a seed, the honeybee has a most impressive list of skills. Its amazing navigational abilities, such as scoring perfect landings, or performing complex flight manoeuvres, have helped the advancement of flight technology, including unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAV). Vision scientists have recently uncovered another ability of the honeybee – it can find its way home from an astounding 11 kilometres away over several days’ travel by remembering global landmarks and reading information from the sky. Previous research has shown that honeybees return home by remembering landmarks around the hive, the panorama view of the horizon, using the sun and polarised skylight as compasses and by memorising their outbound flight paths.

Link to article on Science Alert

Photo: Science Alert

Bees with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags placed on their thorax

New study suggests severe deficits in UK honeybee numbers

Eurekalert - July 1, 2011

A study published by the University of Reading's Centre for Agri Environmental Research suggests that honeybees may not be as important to pollination services in the UK than previously supposed. The research was published in the Journal Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment. "Pollination services are vital to agricultural productivity in the UK" says lead author Tom Breeze "as of 2007, 20% of the UK's cropland was covered by insect pollinated crops like oilseed rape and apples. For decades now we have assumed that honeybees have been providing the majority of pollination services to these systems but have very limited evidence to base this assumption on."

Link to article on Eurekalert

Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prvalence of Known Viruses, Nosema and Crithidia

PLoSOne - June 7, 2011

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) play a critical role in global food production as pollinators of numerous crops. Recently, honey bee populations in the United States, Canada, and Europe have suffered an unexplained increase in annual losses due to a phenomenon known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Epidemiological analysis of CCD is confounded by a relative dearth of bee pathogen field studies. To identify what constitutes an abnormal pathophysiological condition in a honey bee colony, it is critical to have characterized the spectrum of exogenous infectious agents in healthy hives over time. We conducted a prospective study of a large scale migratory bee keeping operation using high-frequency sampling paired with comprehensive molecular detection methods, including a custom microarray, qPCR, and ultra deep sequencing. We established seasonal incidence and abundance of known viruses, Nosema sp., Crithidia mellificae, and bacteria.

Link to article on PlosOne

Analytical methods applied to diverse types of Brazillian propolis

7th Space Intereactive - June 1, 2011

Propolis is a bee product, composed mainly of plant resins and beeswax, therefore its chemical composition varies due to the geographic and plant origins of these resins, as well as the species of bee. Brazil is an important supplier of propolis on the world market and, although green colored propolis from the southeast is the most known and studied, several other types of propolis from Apis mellifera and native stingless bees (also called cerumen) can be found.

Author: Alexandra SawayaIldenize CunhaMaria Marcucci

Credits/Source: Chemistry Central Journal 2011, 5:27

Link to article on 7th Space Interactive

How Do Honeybees Control Their Flight Speed to Avoid Obstacles?

ScienceDaily - May 13, 2011

Unlike humans, bees have a dorsal visual field that enables them to avoid obstacles above their heads. Until now, it was not known whether this helped them to control their flight speed. Recent research by biorobotics specialists at the Institut des sciences du mouvement (CNRS / Université de la Méditerranée) confirms that it does. Bees have been shown to adjust their speed according to obstacle proximity, whether such obstacles are in the horizontal or vertical plane. They achieve this through perceived optic flow, especially from overhead.

Link to article on ScienceDaily

How do honeybees control their flight speed to avoid obstacles?


A honeybee adapting its speed to a complex environment. (Credit Copyright DGA/F.Vrignaud)

Sub-Lethal Effects of Pesticide Residues in Brood Comb on Worker Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Development and Longevity

PLoS ONE - April 14, 2011

Numerous surveys reveal high levels of pesticide residue contamination in honey bee comb. We conducted studies to examine possible direct and indirect effects of pesticide exposure from contaminated brood comb on developing worker bees and adult worker lifespan.

Link to abstract on PLoS ONE

Link to comment on Western Farm Press (US)

Support for the reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution and major QTL for ovary traits of Africanized worker honey bees (Apis mellifera L.)

7th Space Interactive - April 13, 2011

The reproductive ground plan hypothesis of social evolution suggests that reproductive controls of a solitary ancestor have been co-opted during social evolution, facilitating the division of labor among social insect workers. Despite substantial empirical support, the generality of this hypothesis is not universally accepted.

Link to article on 7th Space Interactive

Protecting the pollinators part 2 - bees and disease

By Chrissie Giles

Wellcome Trust - March 24, 2011

Insect pollinators, including honeybees, bumblebees and hoverflies, are in decline. The £10 million Insect Pollinators Initiative - jointly funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Scottish Government and the Wellcome Trust - has been launched to find out why. In the second of two articles, Chrissie Giles looks at four of the projects funded through the initiative to find out what the researchers are planning.

Link to article on Wellcome Trust

Protecting the pollinators part 1 - bees and ecology (March 24, 2011)

Nine projects funded in £10 million Insect Pollinators Initiative (June 22, 2010)

Image Wellcome Trust

Protecting the pollinators - research progress at the Wellcome Trust



Bees in Europe and the Decline of honeybee Colonies

A European Union research project called Bee-Doc has been looking into the problem since March [2011]. Together, 11 universities from nine different countries are working under Professor Robin Moritz, one of the world’s top experts in this field.

“The idea behind Bee-Doc is to seek three different research pillars, one aiming at diagnosis of diseases – developing new easy tools for bee disease diagnostics. The other is for developing strategies of disease prevention and the third one is trying to develop novel treatments that may rely less on the tedious chemical therapy that we have now.”

link to article on Euronews

Pheromone increases foraging honey bees, leads to healthier hives

Science Blog - February 11, 2011

The application of a naturally occurring pheromone to honey bee test colonies increases colony growth resulting in stronger hives overall, according to a new study conducted by scientists at Oregon State University and Texas A&M University. The study, which appeared this week in the journal, PLoS ONE, comes amid national concern over the existence of honey bee Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) — a combination of events that result in the death of a bee colony. The causes behind CCD remain unknown, but researchers are focusing on four possible contributing factors: disease, pests, environmental conditions and nutrition.

Link to article on Science Blog

Link to abstract on PlosOne

Links to other Bee Research programmes and organisations



Peer-reviewed journal devoted to the biology of insects belonging to the superfamily Apoidea. The main topics include: behavior, ecology, pollination, genetics, physiology, toxicology and pathology. Systematic research can also be submitted to the extent that it concerns the Apoidea. Also accepted are research papers, including economic studies, on the rearing, exploitation and practical use of Apoidea and their products, as far as they relate to bees or to the beekeeping industry.


The Journal of Apicultural Research

incorporating Bee World, publishes original research articles, original theoretical papers, notes, comments and authoritative reviews on scientific aspects of the biology, ecology, natural history and culture of all types of bee (superfamily Apoidea).

Link to www.ibra.org.uk

Journal of Experimental Biology

is the leading journal in comparative animal physiology. It publishes papers on the form and function of living organisms at all levels of biological organisation, from the molecular and subcellular to the integrated whole animal. It plays a major role in increasing cross-fertilisation of techniques and knowledge across specialisation boundaries. Our authors and readers reflect a broad interdisciplinary group of scientists who study molecular, cellular and organismal physiology in an evolutionarily and environmentally based context.

Click here to Search the Journal of Experimental Biology


International weekly journal of science


Click here to view Video of Honeybee Genome research

Bee Research

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