Study level

Master of Philosophy

Faculty/School

Science and Engineering Faculty

School of Biology and Environmental Science

Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.

Supervisors

Associate Professor Caroline Hauxwell
Position
Associate Professor
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty
Professor James McGree
Position
Professor in Statistics
Division / Faculty
Science and Engineering Faculty

External supervisors

  • Dr Ashley Mortensen, Plant and Food New Zealand
  • Dr Lisa Evans, Plant and Food New Zealand

Overview

European honey bees are an important component of crop production in Australia. There is also a significant undersupply of hives for pollination services.

Identifying strong colonies is an important step in delivering effective pollination. However, auditing processes are usually invasive, requiring opening hives which may spread disease. They are also heavily dependent on 'tacit knowledge' of the auditor.

This project will align with a project under the Hort Innovation Pollination Fund to determine:

  • the characteristics of strong bee colonies that deliver effective pollination
  • if sensing technology can be used to identify colony strength without invasive practices
  • a more standardised framework for hive auditing.

Research activities

You'll work with apiarists on real-world beehives to:

  • determine the composition of the colony strength (brood, nurses bees, foragers)
  • mark bees leaving the hive to observe their pollination activities
  • use sensing technology to determine factors that reliably determine colony 'strength' for pollination.

This project is aligned with a significant industry funded project, and will work with Plant and Food New Zealand and industry partners engaged in commercial hive sensing technology.

Outcomes

As a result of this research project, you'll:

  • determine the characteristics of strong bee colonies that deliver effective pollination
  • determine if sensing technology can be used to determine colony strength without invasive practices
  • develop a standardised framework for hive auditing to determine colony strength.

Skills and experience

To be considered for this project we expect you to have:

  • demonstrated skills and understanding of
    • experimental design
    • statistical analysis
    • modelling
  • experience and understanding of community structure in bee colonies
  • a demonstrated understanding of the use and application of sensing technology in agriculture.

While not mandatory, it would be ideal if you've had previous experience in working with European bees.

Scholarships

You may be able to apply for a research scholarship in our annual scholarship round.

Annual scholarship round

Keywords

Contact

Contact supervisor for more information