Isle of Arran, September 2017
We are conducting a trial of coordinated Varroa treatment in conjunction with the beekeepers on the Isle of Arran. In late September DJE and Luke Woodford – the EastBIO-funded student leading the project – visited Arran to present an evening lecture on Varroa and DWV: Science and Practical Beekeeping.
Our studies exploit our understanding of changes in the virus population associated with Varroa transmission (rather than transmission from bee to bee during feeding) to monitor the ‘health’ of the colony.
The talk was followed by an extended question and answer session covering the project and more general aspects of beekeeping and Varroa control.
The Isle of Arran was looking fantastic as we crossed from Ardrossan on the CalMac ferry. Goatfell, the highest point on the Arran horseshoe ridge (see image above) is a great walk and thoroughly recommended.
Just back from the excellent Europic 2016 meeting in Switzerland where Kirsten Bentley “knocked their socks off” with a talk on her recent analysis of the role of sequence identity and RNA structure in genetic recombination in enteroviruses.
Here’s what our friends in the Cameron and Vignuzzi labs tweeted …
Kirsten at Europic 2016
With thanks to Caroline, Urs and Laurent for running a great meeting …
Our snappily-titled manuscript “The Iflaviruses Sacbrood virus and Deformed wing virus evoke different transcriptional responses in the honeybee which may facilitate their horizontal or vertical transmission” has just been published in PeerJ. We analysed changes in the transcriptome following infection with deformed wing virus (DWV) and sacbrood virus, or DWV alone. We propose that the difference in expression we observed of the honeybee immune genes induced by SBV and DWV may be an evolutionary adaptation to the different predominant transmission routes used by these viruses .
On Thursday 14th January I’m talking at an evening meeting of Fife Beekeepers Association about the biology of Deformed Wing Virus and how our understanding of the virus should help devise more rational integrated pest management strategies. This is the first of several outreach events planned for 2016 in which our BBSRC-funded research on honeybee viruses will be discussed.
Not long now until the beekeeping season starts and we can get on with our planned field studies 🙂
I enjoyed speaking at the Scottish Beekeepers November meeting in Perth last Saturday. This was the first of several specifically Scottish outreach-type events I’m doing over the next few months and it was a great opportunity to meet people I’ve corresponded with online – often via the highly informative SBAi forum – or who my research group are already collaborating with.
I’m delighted to be talking at the Hampshire Beekeepers Association autumn convention at Sparsholt College this weekend. This is the first of several ‘winter talks’ to BKAs about our research on deformed wing virus and Varroa. Time permitting I hope to discuss some forthcoming studies on coordinated Varroa control that we’re doing with Alan Bowman (Aberdeen) and Fiona Highet (SASA) and that will shortly be featured in the Scottish Beekeeper. I was invited to talk at this event before accepting a post in St. Andrews … it’s a long way to travel. However, one of the advantages of flying to these events is I can’t be tempted by too many goodies from the trade stands 😉
The Royal Agricutural University, Cirencester
I spent Friday and Saturday attending the Midland and South West Counties Convention at the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester. It was a good venue for a meeting, complemented by an interesting and entertaining programme of talks. I discussed our developing story about the influence of Varroa on the transmission of pathogenic strains of deformed wing virus, together with brief coverage of both high and low-tech solutions that might be useful in controlling the detrimental impact of the mite on the virus population. On the Saturday I donned my beekeepers hat (veil?) and discussed queenright queen rearing methods … lots of stakeholder engagement to keep the funders happy 😉
There were some excellent presentations on the use of pollen in forensic studies (Michael Keith-Lucas) and the use of nucleus hives (Bob Smith). I had to leave early to make sure I caught my cancelled train to Swindon (“too many passengers”), the delayed connection to Paddington (“waiting for staff to turn up”), the slow running Heathrow Express (“engineering work”) and so missed my flight back to Edinburgh … all part of the rich outreach experience.
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.
Falcon Hotel Stratford
I’m delighted to be speaking at the CABK Stratford Conference (the Central Association of Beekeepers; Bringing 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.
I’m delighted to be talking – twice (!) – at the Yorkshire Beekeepers Association Spring Conference in York on Saturday the 12th. With Stephen Martin (bee recognition and the Asian hornet), Jay Evans (beenomics – is that a real word?), Ben Jones (nutrition) and Liz Collison (neonicotinoids) also on the programme it promises to be an enjoyable day.
Update – it was a very enjoyable meeting, well attended and with two parallel sessions to entertain the audience. The sessions finished with breakout groups to “ask the experts” (or wonder where the expert was as I couldn’t find the room) followed by a wrap-up meeting. I’d like to thank the YBKA, Roger Chappel and Michael Badger for their excellent hospitality.