Do you know about the extensive honey bee research program underway at the University of Western Australia? You should!
In March 2017 the University of Western Australia posted an exiting announcement on their University News page. The apt headline “New Honey Bee research centre to create a buzz” heralded the new Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Honey Bee Products. Led by The University of Western Australia, its aim is to “provide a much-needed boost to Australia’s valuable, but largely untapped honey bee products, by bringing together both industry and academic expertise from across Australia”.
But honey bee research projects have been on UWA’s agenda since before the establishment of the new CRC for Honey Bee Products. Earlier in 2017, UWA researchers collaberated with Kings Park, Curtin University and the CSIRO in a world-first study on insect metabolism, focused on the honey bee. This study “revealed the significant effect human impact has on a bee’s metabolism, and ultimately its survival”. The research noted a worrying but unsurprising trend: bees give up searching for food when we degrade their land. And in November 2016, UWA scientists from the Centre for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER) tagged 200 honey bee workers to find out how the fungal parasite Nosema apisimpacts their ability to pollinate crops. Their focus is to “unravel” the molecular interactions between the parasite and the host bee, with the hope of breeding disease tolerant bees in the future.
“That a highly contagious parasite is impacting honey bee workers so quickly, is concerning”, said UWA Research Associate Dr Ryan Dosselli from CIBER.
“If parasites reduce foraging ranges of honey bee colonies, they ultimately impact the bees’ ability to pollinate agricultural crops”.
This and other important work no doubt paved the path towards the comprehensive research agenda ahead at the CRC for Honey Bee Products. There are four major research areas with multiple projects earmarked for each. These areas including Honey Bee Health, Honey Bee Hive Sites, Honey Product and Honey Product Marketing.
We hope to dig deeper into the honey bee research activity at the University of Western Australia over the coming months!