Bees on the Scilly Isles

Beebytes in conjunction with the B4 Project has been helping with a project to study the Scillonian bee, looking at issues of bee provenance, swarming and mating behaviour between islands and bee health.

A citizen science project looked to see if drones were travelling between islands during mating season, to see if colonies were breeding in isolation. Beebytes then undertook genetic analysis of colonies across the 5 islands the inhabit, and have mapped out how the colonies are related.

There is a detailed article about the project published by Beecraft Magazine, which includes more information on the future aims of the project. Beebytes aims to use metagenomics to study the honey bee microbiome and identify the microorganisms, beneficial or pathogenic, which are hosted by the Scilly bees, and investigate the differences between these and those found in mainland colonies. The Scilly Isles are relatively unique in that they are still free from varroa, which plays a huge part in the transmission of bee diseases. Highlighting these differences may therefore provide more insight into the impact of varroa elsewhere.