Thesis subject

Wing damage in flying honeybees

The honeybee is one of the most important natural pollinators, both in nature and in agriculture. Flight is crucial for successful pollination, because it allows honeybees to travel fast and long distances and reach difficult-to-reach flowers.

Throughout their lifetime, honeybee wings accumulate significant amounts of damage, which negatively affects flight performance. Unlike birds or bats, insects cannot repair this wing damage and thus they need to cope with this damage for the rest of their life. Instead of a wing repair mechanism, insects do possess various intricate mechanisms for minimizing or even completely stopping the growth of wing damage. But it is not yet known how these mechanisms work under natural flight conditions.

We are looking for a BSc or MSc student who wants to study the dynamics of wing damage growth in flying honeybees, tethered to a flight mill. By analysing images from a high-speed camera, you will determine how a wing crack propagates throughout a flight session, for different types of wing damage and under various conditions.

This study is part of a research project aimed at studying the flight dynamics of honeybees and how this affects pollination performance. It is a collaboration between the Experimental Zoology Group, the Resource Ecology Group and Bees@wur at Wageningen University & Research, and our external collaborators at RMIT University.

Examiner: prof.dr. Johan van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Florian Muijres
Frank van Langevelde
Contact: Florian Muijres (via contact form)
Sander Gussekloo
Credits: 24 or 36 ECTS
Begin date: 01-07-2017
Used skills: Basic knowledge on experimental design and an interest in working with videography data. Knowledge of programming and statistics is preferred.
Requirements: For an MSc project, Functional Zoology (EZO-30806) is required. For a BSc project, requirements can be discuss with the supervisor.