Do bees have accents?

15 July 2016

Bees Header
Pupils from Llanishen Fach Primary School in Cardiff learn more about Cardiff University’s bee projects in partnership with Julian Rees, Project Manager with Pollen8 Cymru.

A team from Cardiff University hopes to discover whether bees in Wales have regional accents.

The scientists are appealing for recorded sounds from the summer hives of an estimated 3,235 beekeepers from Holyhead to Chepstow.

By collecting photo and video images of bees near plants, the researchers from the School of Pharmacy hope to work out which types of vegetation provide the best source of nectar for honey production in the hive.

The School is currently installing a remote monitoring system to a hive on the roof of Cardiff University’s pharmacy building.

The device will allow the pharmacists to listen to the sounds the School’s own bees make and record factors such as temperature and humidity.

Llanishen Fach Primary School
Seeing science in action with a pupil from Llanishen Fach Primary School

Les Baillie, Professor of Microbiology, said: “It is thought the sound a hive makes may be influenced by the health of the bees and whether they are about to swarm.

“Initially, we are hoping beekeepers across Wales will send us sound, video, and photo files of bees around their hives so we can build a picture of summer - the sound of buzzing bees, traffic, etc.

“Plotting these differences could ultimately help us in our bid to find out which plants help bees the most. Gathering photos, video and sound files will help us understand where gaps lie, and will help put plants in the right places to make bees more productive.”

If enough beekeepers respond, and investigators detect initial differences, the project could be rolled out to include more than 40,000 beekeepers across the UK.

Dr James Blaxland, who has investigated the antibacterial effect of Manuka honey on infections, said: "We’ve been making our own University campus as bee-friendly as possible, and producing our own honey, so mapping bees across Wales will give us a bigger picture of how bees live.

The team is asking Wales’s beekeepers and the public in Wales to send images to the School’s science website at http://spotabee.buzz/ and audio files should be sent to BaillieL@cardiff.ac.uk

The project forms part of Cardiff University’s Summer of Innovation – a showcase of the best of Cardiff University’s innovation projects.

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