New Approach in Tackling Global Threat to Bees

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

NUI Galway and Advance Science join forces to help save the honey bee

Irish company Advance Science and NUI Galway are bringing together beekeepers from around Ireland for a workshop to help tackle a disease threatening bee hives. The free workshop on 27 June, will be the first in a series helping beekeepers identify the Nosema parasite that causes a disease known as Nosemosis. 

The Nosemosis disease is strongly linked with Colony Collapse Disorder with the result that honey bee colonies are under threat around the world. On average, one in every three hives are dying each year, with up to 90% losses being experienced by some apiaries. Currently, as a result of disease, there are no wild honey bees in Ireland.

It is now recognised that this decline in bee colonies is having a significant negative impact on the natural pollination of plant species, including many crops that are sources of global food. Apart from biodiversity decline this also has a potential catastrophic knock-on effect on the global food economy.

The University is bringing its expertise in combining microscopy and DNA sequencing to a research collaboration with Advance Science, which develops natural nutritional products to help support bee health. 

Advance Science is part of a cluster of innovative research and development companies based in the Inagh Valley Trust in Connemara, supported by NUI Galway. In collaboration with NUI Galway and with support from Údarás na Gaeltachta, Advance Science has developed HiveAliveTM, a unique blend of bio-active extracts from both land and marine organisms. HiveAliveTM is designed to help strengthen the honey bee against stress factors such as pesticides, diseases and parasites.

As Dara Scott, Managing Director of Advance Science, explains “The honey bee produces nearly 1.5 million tonnes of honey worldwide each year and pollinates up to one third of the plants generating the food we eat. As an avid beekeeper myself, I can see first-hand that the risks to the honey bee colonies are increasing and a natural solution was needed.”

Dr Grace McCormack is head of Zoology at NUI Galway. Her research group uses a combination of approaches including microscopy and DNA sequencing to identify, and investigate diversity in, animals and the organisms that cause animal disease.

Dr Grace McCormack commented “It will be great to bring together beekeepers from around the country and assist them in being able to identify this new disease.”

There are plans being discussed to set up a dedicated Bee Research Centre at NUI Galway to further work on bee diseases, education and bee sustainability. Collaborating with other groups, both north and south of the border, the goal is to allow the Native Irish bee to return to the wild - helping not only the bees but the flowers they pollinate and the biodiversity this brings.         

Keywords: Press

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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