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Rowse Honey & University of Sussex celebrate 10 years of research partnership to protect & support honey bees

From left to right: LASI research technician Nick Balfour, Rowse Honey Brand Manager Hanenne Madi, LASI director Prof. Francis Ratnieks, Rowse Honey Marketing Manager Catherine Allen & PhD student Gigi Hennessy

Rowse Honey, the UK’s leading spread brand, visited the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) last month to hear about the body of research their funding has helped to make possible.

Rowse Honey have been generously funding LASI’s ‘Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health and Well-Being’ research since 2009, facilitating work into disease control and foraging which is valuable for beekeepers and those trying to help bees, both in the UK and worldwide.

Rowse’s support has contributed to LASI’s work with approximately 50 research papers published and outreach activities, including videos, pamphlets and community engagement, which reach almost 3,000 people each year.

To mark the tenth year of the partnership, Professor Francis Ratnieks, the UK’s only Professor of Apiculture, and his team met with Hanenne Madi (Brand Manager) and Catherine Allen (Marketing Manager) from Rowse Honey to talk through some of LASI’s findings and show the inner workings of a honey bee colony using an observation hive and video camera.

Prof. Ratnieks said: “The funding support we’ve received from Rowse Honey has been very important so it was great to have them visit LASI, see some live bees, and hear what we have been doing.

“The honey bee is hugely important to humans. As well as producing 1.6 billion kg of honey per year, this one species is responsible for approximately half of all crop pollination done by bees, which total some 17,000 different species. LASI’s aim is to provide evidence-based advice and information that can help beekeepers, gardeners, land managers and policy makers to make more informed decisions.

“On the one hand our research has practical value, helping beekeepers manage honey bee diseases including varroa mites and deformed wing virus, or showing how to make gardens more bee friendly. But it also helps people connect with and value nature.

“For example, LASI research shows the importance of ivy and bramble flowers, not just to honey bees but to a huge range of insects including other bee species, hover flies, and butterflies. Our work has shown that these plants are abundant in both town and countryside, and are a mainstay of bee foraging over a long period but they are often underappreciated. Most people don’t even know ivy has flowers, as they are small and green. Bramble is sometimes referred to as a ‘thug’.”     

During the visit, Prof. Ratnieks explained that a key way the general public can help pollinators is through selecting garden flowers that are highly attractive to both bees and insects. LASI research has shown that the most attractive flower types have 100 times more insects. They also come at no extra cost as the bee-friendly flowers are just as pretty from a human perspective.   

Prof. Ratnieks said: “Following on from our work on underappreciated flowers and helping bees and flower-visiting insects in both urban and rural areas, next summer we will be determining the diversity and numbers of insects that visit farmland weeds and also wild flowers, such as white clover and selfheal, that grow in domestic-garden lawns.”

The funding from Rowse Honey forms part of their Hives for Lives initiative; a programme aiming to protect bees and improve livelihoods through beekeeping.

As well as supporting the Sussex Plan, they work with the Bee Farmers Association to run an apprenticeship to inspire, recruit and train the next generation of young British bee farmers. They also support communities in Ethiopia to earn an income from honey, offering a sustainable pathway out of poverty.

Catherine Allen, marketing manager at Rowse Honey said: “At Rowse we are committed to protecting bees and supporting beekeepers. This is why we created Rowse Hives For Lives, a programme of vital initiatives that benefit honey bees and beekeepers at home and abroad.  

“We are proud to be the lead sponsor of the Sussex Plan for Honey Bee Health & Well-Being, carried out in the Laboratory of Apiculture and Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex. We are delighted to celebrate our tenth year of the partnership and it’s great to see to see the breakthrough results of Prof Ratnieks and his team in understanding bees’ health and driving a better understanding of how to support these vital creatures.

“We remain committed to our partnership with LASI and the vital work the team do to protect honey bees and other pollinators.”

 

More information about honeybees and how to help them, can be found in LASI's online information leaflets.


By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Wednesday, 25 March 2020

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