The Science of Farming – Honeybee Health

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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Science and Me – Functional Foods

Dr. Louise Horrigan, Lecturer in Physiology in NUI Galway
Dr. Louise Horrigan, Lecturer in Physiology in NUI Galway (Photo credit, Enda O’Connell)

In the third in our series of Research Videos for 2016, Dr. Louise Horrigan, Physiology Lecturer in the College of Medicine and Health Sciences, introduces the topic of Functional Foods. These are foods that, as well as having nutritional value, have been scientifically proven to give other health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol or treating heart disease. As well as lecturing to NUI Galway students, Louise is also involved in researching the benefits of Blueberry and Hawthorn juices, which you can find out more about here.

Video by Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate at CÚRAM .

How Things Work – Meet the GEEC!

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Niamh Keogh, mechanical engineering student and driver of the Geec. (Photo credit Enda O’Connell)

In the second in our series of Research Videos for 2016, mechanical engineering students Niamh Keogh and Shane Queenan demonstrate the Geec (Galway Energy Efficient Car), an eco-car designed and built by Mechanical, Energy Systems and Electrical & Electronic engineering students from NUI Galway, mentored by Dr. Nathan Quinlan, Dr. Rory Monaghan and Dr. Maeve Duffy.

Last year in Rotterdam, in a first for Ireland, the Geec team competed against almost 200 other teams at the Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where cars are challenged to drive 16 km around a closed street circuit using the least amount of fuel or energy. The team finished in the top half of the leaderboard in prototype battery-electric class, with a score of 287 km/kWh – roughly equivalent to 8,000 miles per gallon for a petrol or diesel car, making it the most energy efficient car ever to drive in Ireland!

Video by Claire Riordan, Science Engagement Associate at CÚRAM . Geec footage courtesy of Dr. Nathan Quinlan.