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Pupils learn to use science to monitor bee health

Young beekeepers understand how science can be applied to diagnose disease, with support from researchers.

Pupils in beekeeping suits
The project enabled the pupils to manage their hives even better.

Pupils have worked with scientists from the Roslin Institute who are experienced beekeepers to test their schools’ honeybees for a common parasite.

The pupils collected samples from their schools’ apiaries and analysed them to test if the bees had a parasite called Nosema, by using DNA and microscope analysis at EBSOC – a University of Edinburgh purpose-built lab for schools and communities.

Part of their project took place during the pandemic lockdown, when the pupils sent samples to scientists, who filmed the analyses for them.

A video featuring pupils from the project has been shown during anniversary celebrations for the Royal Society, which funded the project.

It is satisfying to see that learning science in the context of a fascinating topic such as honeybees can appeal to young people who have not previously shown an interest in these sciences.

Ray BaxterTeacher at Kelso High School

Applying science

This project enabled the pupils to better understand honeybee health and the science required to monitor it, so that they can manage their hives.

Working with Roslin scientists, first at EBSOC and later remotely, was an opportunity for the pupils to engage with science and a number of them are now considering a science qualification and career.

The pupils had an immersive hands-on experience. It was great to see that the pandemic did not stop the pupils from pursuing their investigations and we were happy to conduct these for them.

Dr Mark BarnettResearch Fellow at the Roslin Institute and coordinator of the campus apiary

This project has been a fantastic opportunity for National Progression Award (NPA) Beekeeping students to develop their scientific knowledge, whilst making a valuable contribution to our understanding of the species. It’s clear that the young researchers were really engaged in the project, and it’s great that it has inspired many of them to consider a science qualification and career. ​​​​​​​ 

Anne BoydQualifications Manager for NPA Beekeeping, SQA

My daughter is really enjoying this project. She said that having the opportunity to work with such inspiring people is wonderful and it has really helped her to develop her skills and understanding of honey bee health.

Parent 

Scottish young beekeepers

Our bee lab workshop is open to schools from all over Scotland. We look forward to supporting young beekeepers in using science to monitor the health of their bees.

Jayne QuoianiEducation & Engagement Officer, Roslin Institute and EBSOC

This is the way to light up young peoples' interest in science. Beekeeping is fascinating in itself, but for these young beekeepers also to have the opportunity to investigate bee health with real scientists and using real scientific methods is inspiring.

Bron WrightScottish Beekeepers’ Association Young Beekeepers' Officer

Thank you for treating us like adults and valuing our opinions.  It has been fascinating working with scientists who are experts in this area. It is has been so rewarding to learn about something so meaningful and important.

Daisy-Powell McCallumKelso High School – Bee Club

This project has been funded by the Royal Society Schools Partnership Grant scheme and supported by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

 

 

** The Roslin Institute receives strategic investment funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and it is part of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. **

Related links

EBSOC Bee Lab: Diagnosing the health of your honey bees

How genetics could help our honey bees