What Is Scientific Beekeeping?

Scientific beekeeping is an emerging field of research. It has many benefits for bees and beekeepers (Bonney et al. 2009a; Koffler et al. 2021).

A recent study in Europe investigated the motivation of citizen science beekeepers for participation in a research investigation. The findings indicate that beekeepers to a high degree would participate again in a similar study or recommend it to fellow beekeepers.

1. Observation

In scientific beekeeping, observations can make a difference to the outcome of an experiment. But these observations must be well-designed and conducted on a large scale to be effective, involving a significant number of control colonies, as well as beekeepers who are willing to repeat the experiments over and over again.

Observations in scientific beekeeping include those concerning bee physiology, behavior, and genetics, as well as the interactions among these factors. These observations need to be replicated in order to prove a scientifically sound conclusion about bees and their environment.

Practical application: Keeping strong colonies in summer requires high brood rates to keep the population from falling too rapidly, since most bees die within a few weeks of emergence (Harris 2008). However, when broodrearing slows down, the bees are not able to replenish their populations by new brood, and their population will drop precipitously.

Almost any observation or manipulation will depend on the particular circumstances under which it is made, as well as other factors such as the temperature, humidity, and other physical conditions. It is a good idea to think about these things when you are considering an experiment or a hive management technique.

2. Analysis

Whether in science or any other field, analysis is the process of evaluating evidence and interpreting it. This can be done in a number of ways, so it’s important to be sure that your analysis is sound and factual.

Beekeeper citizen scientists can contribute to beekeeping research in many different ways, such as collecting samples for studies (Brodschneider et al. 2019, 2020; Gray et al., 2020), providing information for crowdsourcing investigations (Shirk et al. 2012), or identifying best practice methods to reduce colony losses (Jacques et al., 2017, Steinhauer et al., 2020).

In this study, citizen scientists from ten countries completed a self-assessment of the time they spent on their sampling rounds. Their average time was 8.8 min per sampling round (SD +- 4.0, n = 768).

3. Interpretation

In scientific beekeeping, interpretation refers to the process of verbal communication, primarily between people who do not speak the same language. Unlike translation, which focuses on written communication, interpretation is all about verbal interaction.

Beekeepers are a highly specialized group, which makes them an ideal source for citizen science studies of honey bees and their environment (Brodschneider et al. 2019, Brouwer and Hessels 2019).

For this study, we surveyed a sample of 69 beekeeper citizen scientists who participated in the INSIGNIA project in four European countries during its first year. They were asked to rate the difficulty of the 21 tasks they had to perform.

Among all required tasks, beekeepers rated giving information on the phenology of flowering plants as the most difficult task (3.6), followed by picking the best day for sampling (3.5) and photo documentation of collected samples (3.3) (Fig. 4) and these three tasks were ranked more difficult by beekeepers with a college degree than those without one (Fig. 3).

4. Replication

Replication is an essential element of scientific beekeeping. It is a critical part of the scientific process and it is vital to ensure that experiments are replicated before publication.

Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites that require specific proteins and processes within the host cell to carry out their replication cycle. This means that they can only infect a limited range of cells and tissue types.

Bee viruses (DWV, KBV) are known to mutate rapidly and adapt to suit different hosts-some can even infect other species of bees and wasps or varroa gut cells! This is called adaptive evolution.

However, it is not clear whether these new strains of the virus become pathogenic to the bees that are infected by them. This has been a controversial hypothesis in bee research.

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