What's the Buzz With ATTTA #29

Thursday, 7 January 2021

The Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture welcomes the start of a new year and looks forward to working with our region’s beekeepers through 2021.  Now is the time to plan for the upcoming beekeeping season and we wanted to highlight some of our activities for the year.  We are hoping that there will be some easing of travel restrictions and we will once again be able to move around the Maritimes to visit beekeepers.  In spite of this hope, we are still planning most of our activities online.  So, until we can meet again, we will support our regions beekeepers virtually but let us cross our fingers for the current crisis to soon be over.  Read below for a taste of some of our planned activities.

Honey bees are increasingly the focus of important scientific research.  At the time of writing this blog, we are one week into January and already there have been just short of 100 peer reviewed articles published in 2021.  Reviewing this sheer volume of material is a daunting nearly impossible task.  One North Carolina group has taken this head on and reviewed all of the honey bee research from the past 100 years.  Details, and a link to their full article can be found below.

A few ATTTA highlights to look forward to in the upcoming year!

New Specialist to start with the Atlantic Tech Transfer Team for Apiculture in January.  This will complete the full-time ATTTA team.  The new person will support our region’s beekeepers as an apiculturist and honey bee specialist.  Our January 21st blog will contain a full bio of our new team member.

Our summer research program is currently being finalized.  ATTTA will continue to undertake regionally appropriate, applied research along two main themes: enhancing pollination efficiency of wild blueberries using honey bees; Improving honey bee stocks for the Maritime region.


Teaching and knowledge transfer will be planned around online and virtual learning for 2021.  We had hoped for some face to face learning but we will plan in consideration of current restrictions for travel and contact.  If restrictions relax, it will be our pleasure to once again meet with beekeepers personally. Details of our upcoming 2021 beekeeping training will follow in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space!

 What’s the Buzz with ATTTA Beekeeping Podcast will be launched this month.  Episode 0 (Trailer) is available across seven platforms including Apple Podcast and Spotify.  Details can be found here - https://www.perennia.ca/learning/podcast/ - and we will let you know as soon as episode 1 is available.

ATTTA will soon be on Twitter!  We have set up a Twitter account to better communicate with beekeepers.  We will be posting on ATTTA@beeatlantic.  Make sure you follow us to keep abreast of the most current news for beekeepers in the Atlantic region.  We will start tweeting in the third week of January and we know this will be another useful tool to keep our regions beekeepers fully informed.

One Hundred years of Honey Bee Research!

The volume of research published annually, over 5000 articles on average for each of the past five years, related to honey bees is impressive.  Figure 1 shows the increase in the number of articles publish over the past 100 years.  There have been over 30,000 papers during the last century.  This is particularly impressive when you realise that each individual research project represents hundreds of hours of work.  This means, in reality, that our scientific knowledge of honey bees is built on a foundation of millions of hours of researchers time.  A fascinating paper entitled, “A century of discovery: Mining 100 years of honey bee research” claims that bee research began in the third century BC.  These reviewers found that when concentrating on work done in the last 100 years, trends in scientific research on honey bees followed the social and industry focus of the time.  The most recent research trends demonstrate this clearly.  In the 1990’s the research began to focus more on Varroa mite management and this theme has carried on since.  The 2000’s work concentrated on genes and molecular studies which culminated in the honey bee genome map in 2006.  As we moved into the 2010’s, Colony Collapse Disorder became a strong theme in the research.

Figure 1. Average number of articles per year by time period (Edgar et al 2021)


Most recently, we have moved into the period these workers call the “Modern Age of Apiculture” research.  Contemporary research involves many more multidisciplinary studies and the use of computer algorithms and computer-based models.

The link to the full review is below and it is well worth further consideration beyond the limitations of this brief blog.  We have learned a great deal about honey bees in the last 100 years but there is still much more to discover.  Research can provide answers but the time and resources required for each question is considerable.  One thing that is obvious, the enigma of honey bees is still motivating beekeepers and scientists alike!

Reference

Edgar E. Hassler , Joseph A. Cazier , Brandon Hopkins , James T. Wilkes ,Kiefer Smith & Max Rünzel (2021) A century of discovery: Mining 100 years of honey bee research, Journal of Apicultural Research, 60:1, 3-12.


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