Native Irish honeybees Apis mellifera mellifera. Seen here is the queen (marked with green) and workers on a frame. (Photo credit: Linda Connor)
Native Irish honeybees Apis mellifera mellifera. Seen here is the queen (marked with green) and workers on a frame. (Photo credit: Linda Connor, Advance Science)

We’ve all read recent reports on the decline of bee populations around the world, with damage to wild and honey bee colonies from common pesticides and invasive species on the rise. Just last week, the US Fish and Wildlife Service took the unprecedented step of placing seven bee species on the Endangered Species List, in an attempt to protect their numbers from further depletion. Bees are hugely important economically, pollinating many types of vegetable, nut and fruit crops, which could not survive without them, as well as maintaining plant biodiversity in many ecosystems.

NUI Galway-based researchers are helping beekeepers face this challenge in two ways, by finding wild bee colonies resistant to the most common bee diseases, and by producing products which promote honeybee health in established colonies. Prof Grace McCormack, from the Molecular Evolution and Systematics Laboratory, is calling on all bee enthusiasts to let her group know about wild bee colonies that have been active for more than 2-3 years. If you see a wild beehive in your area you can email nuigbeeresearch@gmail.com, visit the Bee Genes Facebook page or call 091-494490.

Scientist and beekeeper Dara Scott recently set up a company called Advance Science, with laboratories and field stations in NUI Galway and Connemara, to commercialise a seaweed-based nutritional supplement for bees called HiveAlive. Through extensive trials in a number of countries, this product has been shown to almost double the number of bees in colonies, by promoting intestinal health and via its anti-fungal properties. To learn more about the research carried out by Dara and his team of NUI Galway based researchers, you can check out the next in our series of Research Videos for 2016 and visit http://www.advancescience.com for all of the trial data.

Video courtesy of Advance Science

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