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Sussex Uni study key to honey bee health
The dancing habits of bees are being studied at Sussex University to determine their favourite foods and maintain the health of the hard-working insects’ which pollinate over £200 million of UK crops each year.
The UK’s only professor of Apiculture, Professor Francis Ratniek, has decoded the bees’ “waggle dance” as a way of communicating where to find the best food sources to the rest of the hive.
The professor said: “In essence what we’re doing is getting the bees to tell us what parts of the landscape they like so that we can make more of it.”
The number of UK bee-hives has declined in recent years as a result of disease and a lack of flowers to collect the pollen and nectar on which they feed.
The professor explained that without a healthy number of honey bees in the UK, many of the things we eat would either be unavailable or more expensive.
Sussex University has created a laboratory and hired Professor Ratniek to lead a project called “The Sussex Plan For Honey Bee Health and Well-Being”.
As well as discovering the bees’ favourite nosh, the five-year plan is aimed at creating hygienic, disease resistant bees. Professor Ratniek said: “The Sussex plan will help bee keepers in several ways. One is that we will determine how they can control specific pests.”
For more information about the university’s research you can visit http://www.sussex.ac.uk/lasi/.
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