Somerset BKA lecture day

DWV symptoms

DWV symptoms

I’m delighted to be sharing the programme with Michael Palmer and Celia Davies at the Somerset BKA lecture day this Saturday (21st February ’15). I’ll be adding a small bit of science to the day and no doubt benefiting significantly from their wealth of beekeeping expertise. It should be a very enjoyable event.

Update – it was a very enjoyable event.  Aside from a few audio problems with a misbehaving microphone a packed hall enjoyed two talks by Celia Davies on Summer and Winter Bees and A World of Scents and a further two from Michael Palmer on the Sustainable Apiary and Queen rearing. If you’ve not heard Michael talk about the importance of overwintering nucs for sustainable beekeeping then you should either try and catch him on his current UK tour or watch him deliver the talk at the National Honey Show on YouTube. I think I’ve heard the talk three times now and have learnt something new every time. All the talks – including our contribution on the science of Varroa and deformed wing virus – generated lots of questions and discussions. With thanks to Sharon Blake for the invitation and organisation of the day.

Honey gifts

The University of Warwick is 50 years old in 2015. As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations attendees at the launch event were given “goody bags” containing, amongst other things, a small jar of honey from hives kept on campus or in the neighbouring farmland. Each carried a small tag advertising the honeybee research conducted in our lab …

CABK Stratford Conference

Falcon Hotel Stratford

Falcon Hotel Stratford

I’m delighted to be speaking at the  CABK Stratford Conference (the Central Association of BeekeepersBringing Science to the Beekeeper) on Saturday and Sunday 22/23 November 2014. I’ll be discussing the identification of a virulent strain of deformed wing virus, characteristics of its transmission and potential ways it might be controlled in the future. The CABK website doesn’t yet appear to list other speakers, but the provisional programme I’ve seen lists Alison Haughton from Rothamsted, Ben Jones from FERA, Jochen Plugfelder from Bern and Bob Smith from Kent.

There should be ample time for discussions so please introduce yourself if you want to chat.

Going viral

All publicity is good publicity, right?

Not necessarily

I think the pained expression was caused by a combination of three things:

  1. An audio feed that nearly ruptured my right eardrum
  2. The inevitable Should we be concerned? question about Ebola*
  3. The interminable delay getting through the roadworks onto campus

* yes, we should be concerned. We should be concerned for the people in West Africa experiencing this devastating outbreak. We should be doing more, individually and at a governmental level. However, the real question being asked is usually a truncation of Should we be concerned that there will be an outbreak here? In which case the answer is “No”. We have all the things Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone lack … we are a wealthy country, we have an excellent healthcare system, we have a reasonably well-educated population who generally trust the authorities and healthcare professionals, we have excellent infrastructure. A recent paper in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases details the economic and ecological factors that have contributed to this current outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola can be controlled and outbreaks eradicated using a combination of well-established methods in contact tracing, patient isolation and barrier protection. These methods have worked in all previous outbreaks. They will work in this outbreak (they have already worked in containing the spillover cases in Nigeria), but the longer it takes until they are effectively applied, the more cases that will occur.

PLoS Biologue

PLoS Biologue

PLoS Biologue

Lily Berrin of PLoS Pathogens covered our research in her article What’s the Buzz on Bee Pathogens? written for the US National Honey Bee day on the 16th of August. The article provides a concise overview of papers on the parasites, fungi and viruses of honeybees that have been published in PLoS Pathogens.

New BBSRC grant

We’re delighted to have been awarded a new BBSRC grant for studies of “The biology and pathogenesis of Deformed Wing Virus, the major virus pathogen of honeybees“. These studies will help us understand the enhanced virulence of particular strains of DWV and to determine how effective antiviral therapies may be developed.

Hives and himalayan balsam

Hives and himalayan balsam