BeesMax and partners in research
BeesMax works alongside a variety of partners for research and development.
As climate change accelerates and the number of winter honey bee colony losses increases, we need a way to keep seed stocks alive to help maintain the UK’s food supply as well as releasing bees back into the wild.
[Centre for Ecology and Hydrology]
National Honey Monitoring Scheme
All BeesMAX sites are registered with the National Honey Monitoring Scheme so schools can understand where their bees are foraging and which flowers they visited.
Professor Pywell runs the Government Centre for Ecology & Hydrology and his associates recently published a report describing how one third of the native bee species in South East England no longer exist. In 2019, the first ever UK-wide research report concerning honey gathered the UK will be published.
BeesMAX will be connecting the invaluable environmental research work of CEH with STEM activities and its weeks of science exploration.
Artificial Hibernation Trials of the British Honeybee
Our Kent based pilot for the artificial hibernation of honeybees was successful last winter (Winter of 2018/19) and so we are now proceeding with a much bigger trial. We anticipate all colonies surviving the winter hibernation, thus solving the 25% average winter colony losses suffered by UK and US hobbyist beekeepers. Commercial bee farmers in the UK and the US also suffer similar losses. This experiment will have long term implications for commercial bee farming. As our winters become more erratic and unpredictable, we need a viable and practical way to keep our bees alive.
By artificially hibernating small, medium and large colonies, we aim to better understand how they maintain themselves within the colony, in the dark, unable to fly or defecate for three months. The spring swarming process requires a strong and vigorous colony. It is a vital part of the bee’s natural life cycle and the smaller autumn colonies usaully die out during the winter, failing to regenerate after hibernation and renew next year’s populations. This ever-decreasing cycle of colony reduction must be negatively affecting our wild bee colony stocks.
The gathering of winter hibernation sensory research information has never been achieved before.Twenty-four-seven hourly segments of changes in weight, temperature, humidity and sound from within the hive is a totally new research information source.
The 30 hives will be centrally located for 3 months (Winter 2019/20) in an airconditioned chiller unit running at 6 degrees centigrade simulating relatively mild winter conditions. Then, after being sent back to their original locations, awakening and returning to normal spring flying patterns, we will monitor how they develop and grow during the summer. The aim is to understand how varying sizes of colonies maintain their core overwintering temperatures, how the bees age and how much food they consume.
National Honey Monitoring Scheme will begin to receive samples of honey coming from these overwintered colonies in 2020.
STEM lesson plans for schools
Meaningful and practical STEM Lesson Plans for schools. We have just been given permission by the British Beekeepers Association to use their newly created library of lesson plan material for Key Stages 1 & 2. Our aim is to coordinate the delivery of an end-to-end, ready-made process covering the practical experiences of bees and their beehives, the IT data gathering equipment and the GCSE lesson plans to help teach the STEM subjects.
RHS Wisley is using a BeesMAX hive to enrich the horticultural learning experience of about 16,000 students who visit their site each year. From early 2020 we anticipate the web-enabled data gathering equipment will be accessed by schools from all over the UK. There will hopefully be similar STEM derived sensory equipment also using our BeesMAX hive for comparative data experiments and learning all about C++ programming within the GCSE curriculum.
STEM Discover Park Heads Conference
28th June 2019
BeesMAX is presenting to schools from Kent and Sussex at the Dover Science Discovery Park. The conference is being organised by www.stem.org.uk. BeesMAX has just become a STEM Ambassador, assisting with teaching these subjects in schools using beehive data from their IT systems placed within the hive. STEM are developing other sensory equipment that also uses beehive data.