Thesis subject

Pollination activity of honeybees and bumblebees in the field

Honeybees and bumblebees fly remarkably well in complex natural environments. When pollinating flowers, they have to deal with a broad range of environmental conditions, especially due to unpredictably whether changes: temperatures can suddenly drop, and especially strong winds can make flying and landing difficult.

We are looking for a MSc thesis student who would like to study how foraging bees fly and land on flowers at various weather conditions.  For this, you will address the following two questions: 

1. What is the effect of wind on the activity of bumblebees and honeybees outside the hive?

2. How does wind affect the landing performance of bumblebees and honeybees on moving flowers?

To answer the first research question, you will set-up two bumblebee hives in Grebbedijk HB apiary along with weather sensors in the field. You will help in setting up a videography system at the entrance of the hives to monitor the activity of bumblebees outside the hive. The activity of honeybee colonies on the terrain will be measured with an already implemented system. After collecting data on honeybee and bumblebee activity over the summer, you will determine what the effect of the wind conditions was on the activity of the bees, by performing data analysis. 

To answer the second research question, you will determine the effect of wind on flower movement by filming moving flowers in the field in a range of wind conditions. Furthermore, you will develop an experiment to determine how wind affects the landing behaviour of bees. You can for example film landing manoeuvres of bees on moving flowers in the field.

There may be room for multiple students to work on this project. The project is in collaboration with Experimental Zoology Group, Bees@wur, the Resource Ecology Group and the Behavioural Ecology Group.

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Contact: Florian Muijres (via contact form)
Supervisors: Florian Muijres
Coby van Dooremalen
Begin date: 01/04/2020 (variable)
End date: 01/02/2022 (variable)
Credits: 36 ECTS (variable)
For: MSc Biology / Animal Sciences
Requirements: Successful completion of Functional Zoology (EZO 30806)
Used skills: An interest in biomonitoring and working with videography and sensory data, experimental design, insect behaviour, statistics