Several Fabre’s hives have been put up at our Temple Newsam apiary. These are solitary bee hotels named after Jean-Henri Fabre. They have been put up by Leeds University PhD Student, Jens Van Eeckhoven in the hopes of attracting Osmia bicornis and other mason bees into making their nest there.
“Taking care of our honeybees, we tend to forget that most bee species don’t actually live in colonies inside hives. Instead most wild bees are actually solitary (Peters et al., 2017). Researchers are still debating exactly how the extreme group living that we see in honeybees arose. We all know that honeybee workers don’t generally lay eggs, but take care of their queen’s offspring instead (Winston, 1991). That worker sterility has evolved is slightly odd. Generally, evolution requires a mechanism of inheritance. Fifty percent of our own genes come from our mother, and the other fifty percent from our father. If a honeybee worker does not lay eggs and pass on her own genes, then how were they able to evolve at all? This puzzled even Charles Darwin himself (Darwin, 1859). Working with Liz Duncan at the University of Leeds, I am interested in why and how honeybee workers can no longer lay fertilised eggs. And contrarily, I am studying this in a solitary bee.”
Further information about Jens’ interesting project can be found in our May newsletter.