Three Lil Birds Farm
More Stop Signals and Hive Checks
This week was really a continuation of last week's experiments. We worked on a little bit of everything.
We worked more on the stop signal assay at both low and high aggressions and a control assay. Previously, we had only performed the low aggression assay. This is done by pulling the selected bee's leg at the feeder once with a pair of forceps*. For the high aggression assay, we pull the selected bee's leg 2-5 times to simulate sustained aggression at the feeding source. To ensure that the forceps did not have an effect on the presence or absence of a stop signal, we also performed a control assay. This was done by hovering the forceps over the selected bee while it was at the feeder.
For each of these assays, the selected bee at the feeder was followed into the observation hive with a microphone (as mentioned last week). Below is a great photo of the open observation hive.
One key part of any honeybee research lab is weekly or biweekly hive inspections. This ensures the colonies are prepared for the research projects that will be conducted during a given season. One thing that I have noticed about beekeeping in research labs is it often does not follow the same timeline as hobby beekeeping. As many of you may know, beekeeping also varies across regions and even cities. Beekeeping in North Carolina is different than beekeeping in Louisiana or even Kentucky. While most of the basic procedures are the same, the timelines are often very different. Right now, Kentucky has not had rain in 2-3 weeks. This is drying up the nectar sources for the hives, resulting in the beginning of their summer nectar dearth. Stronger hives produce excess honey and often make it through the dearth just fine. However, weaker hives need a little more care and might need to be fed sugar water. Luckily, the majority of the colonies at the lab look like they are in great shape.
In addition to the stop signal assays and hive checks, the lab has been preparing for a big National Science Foundation project. Unfortunately, I did not get any images of the aggression assays. Since this will be the highlight of next week, I will provide pictures and a deeper description then.
Stay tuned for more blog posts! Only 3 weeks left!
*Forceps- a scientific term for a fancy pair of tweezers, often with a "softer" end