One of the things we do at LASI is “outreach”. Outreach takes practical information from the laboratory to the people who can benefit from it, such as a beekeeper who wants to know how to control honey bee diseases or a gardener or park manager who wants to grow bee-attractive plants.
Much of our outreach is aimed at communicating the results of LASI’s applied research, the Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health & Well Being. But we also communicate the results of research that was not carried out at LASI, as well as basic beekeeping information.
On Friday and Saturday afternoons, 8 and 9 July, we ran two identical workshops on Breeding & Using Hygienic Bees. In total, 50 beekeepers attended. The teaching was done by myself (Professor Ratnieks) and also Dr. Karin Alton, Dr. Hasan Al Toufailia, Dr. Stephen Pearce, Mr. Norman Carreck and Mr. Luciano Scandian, with help from LASI PhD student Ms. Veronica Wignall and summer volunteers Mr. Martin Stock (from Germany) and Ms. Claire Maurin (from France).
The workshop kicked off with a lecture by myself that gave background on hygienic behaviour and then summarized the results of 7 research papers on the ability of hygienic behaviour to control brood diseases, effects on colony performance (there are no negative effects but honey production is raised), and also on breeding hygienic bees. Most of these papers, which included 2 by my colleague Professor Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota, are featured in other LASI Queen Bees blog pages.
The workshop then moved onto 3 practical issues: 1) how to test colonies for their level of hygienic behaviour using the freeze-killed brood method; 2) queen rearing: grafting larvae into queen cells; 3) queen rearing: making up nucleus hives and using them to get queens mated.
Everyone in LASI participates in the outreach, including workshops, talks, open days, writing articles and making videos, and working with the media. I am keen that LASI is involved in outreach. In part, this is because I was trained this way at Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies, in the Department of Entomology at Cornell University in New York State. In the USA, outreach is called extension and is a big part of the job of many professors there, and is encouraged and funded properly, with a whole back up system known as Cooperative Extension. The USA is about 100 years ahead of the UK in this respect.
Some of the people attending the workshops picked up queens they had ordered, and we also had a few extras available. We also had special cakes prepared by Lisa Anderson, a friend of Karin’s, which went down well. Many thanks to the Eva Crane Trust who have provided funds to help support the 7 workshops we are running this summer. The next workshops are on Integrated Varroa Management, and are on 2, 3 and 4 September.
© F. Ratnieks, July 2016