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Visiting Scientists & Studentships

The NBU plays host to a wide range of visitors from both national and international institutions. This creates a network of scientists and practitioners from various disciplines and backgrounds. We also are involved in the supervision of an array of undergraduate and postgraduate projects as well as internships.


Current Students and Visitors


University of York and Fera, Student: Nicola Burns

BBSRC CASE award with funding support gratefully acknowledged by Bee Disease Insurance (BDI).

This studentship is run with Dr Thorunn Helgason at the University of York.

Project: Genetic and environmental effects on virulence of European foulbrood, a bacterial pathogen of honey bees.

Nicola will use comparative genomic techniques to identify virulence characteristics of different isolates of M. plutonius. She will then assess challenged larvae and assess phenotypic differences.




University of Liverpool and Fera, Student: Georgia Drew

Funded through a BBSRC iCASE award.

Academic supervision with Prof. Greg Hurst & Dr Alistair Darby: https://sites.google.com/site/hurstlab/home/lab-members

Project: Arsenophonus: Friend or Foe? This project will investigate a curious organism that has been found to be associated with honey bee colonies, Arsenophonus. The work will help to understand the interaction between this symbiont and the honey bee, Apis mellifera, in order to establish any positive or negative impacts on honey bee health. The results will help provide advice on the best husbandry methods to manage this organism.

Georgia has produced a science poster which outlines how her work will aim to measure the extent of the damage that Arsenophonus causes to a colony. (pdf)

In addition, she has written an article for the beekeeping press which further outlines the work she has been doing on this project. (pdf)





University of Aberdeen and Fera,  Student: Craig Christie 

Academic supervision with Dr Alan Bowman: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sbs/people/profiles/a.bowman

Craig is working alongside a project funded by VMD to help develop a culturing system to raise Varroa mites off-host. He will concentrate on manipulating survival and reproduction to elucidate fundamental aspects of mite biology.



Agricultural School Complex Vocational Training Centre, Pszczela Wola, Poland

We play host to beekeeping students as part of an internship program from the agricultural college in Poland: http://www.pszczelawola.edu.pl/index.php/About-school.html





Past Students and Visitors

Past Students and Visitors

Development of appropriate surveillance systems for honey pests and diseases in Uganda (Rothamsted International Fellowship)

Visiting researcher Dr. Robert Kajobe, Chief Apiculturist at National Agricultural Research Orgnisation (NARO), Livestock Health Research Institute in Tororo, collected honey bees from across 10 contrasting ecological zones in Uganda. He used the facilities at Fera to screen these bees for a range of honey bee pests and diseases. For further details about this project and other National Bee Unit International development work, please see our International Development pages.

Visiting Fellow: Marc Ndimukaga

Project to complete a survey of bees utilised in apiculture in Rwanda, characterising subspecies and races obtained from contrasting agro-ecological zones, and mapping their respective incidences. It will also characterise honeys from colonies from selected areas, defining their respective chemical compositions, nutritional values, antimicrobial properties, and the profiles of any pollens found.







Contingency Planning:
Preben Kristiansen from the Swedish beekeepers association (Bee pest and disease advisor) and Lotta Fabricius Kristiansen from the Swedish board of Agriculture visited the NBU for a knowledge exchange exercise into contingency planning, training, surveillance, and inspections. Helping to advise Swedish government who are considering setting up a similar partnership programme to the UK.







University of York and Fera, Student: Barbara Morrissey


BBSRC CASE award with funding support gratefully acknowledged by Bee Disease Insurance (BDI).

Academic supervision with Dr Thorunn Helgason: http://www.york.ac.uk/biology/research/ecology-evolution/thorunn-helgason/#research

Project: Epidemiology of American foulbrood: Barbara has created a genetic typing scheme for Paenibacillus larvae the causative agent of American foulbrood (AFB), and has used the scheme to understand the routes of transmission of this damaging brood disease. For an example of her work, see here.









University of Exeter and Fera, Student: Ben Jones


Academic supervision with Dr James Cresswell: http://biosciences.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=james_cresswell

Funding support gratefully acknowledged from Bee Disease Insurance (BDI), the combined associations of the Yorkshire, South West, and Eastern regions, in addition to Hampshire and Peterborough beekeeping associations.

Project: Investigating the Impacts of Nutrition on Honey Bee Health. To understand the effects of diet quality on bee health and immunity with the aim to ascertain if certain diets, will promote disease resistance in honey bees by supporting the immune system.





University of Aberdeen and Fera

Academic supervision with Dr Alan Bowman: http://www.abdn.ac.uk/sbs/people/profiles/a.bowman 

1. BBSRC EASTBIO (East of Scotland BioScience Doctoral Training Partnership) with EARS2 (Eastern Region Research Studentship II) Student: Emma Bradford

Project: How does deformed wing virus change as it passes between honey bees and Varroa? This project will run alongside the SMARTBEES EU project investigate the role of Varroa destructor, the parasitic mite of honey bees ,in the spread of deformed wing virus (DWV) and how this virus changes as it is transmitted between the Varroa mite vector and the host honey bee. More information on SMARTBEES can be found here: http://www.smartbees-fp7.eu/

2. KTN (Knowledge Transfer Network ) Biosciences BBSRC-CASE studentship with Scottish Beekeepers Association (SBA)

Project: To investigate the biology of the parasitic mite Varroa, in order to research pathogen transmission and develop a screening platform to test potential control therapeutics




Masters Student, University of York

Investigating role of population size on the role of immunity

http://www.york.ac.uk/environment/our-staff/kathryn-arnold/#profile







PhD: Investigating the taxonomy of UK honey bee viruses: A molecular approach (Defra funded project number PH0410)


This studentship was run with Professor Mike Carter and Dr. Lisa Roberts at the University of Surrey. The main aim of which was to investigate the viruses in UK honey bee populations by characterising the genetic material of each virus. Enabling us to construct virus family trees and detail the distribution each virus in England and Wales.














PhD: Investigating the genetic differences between Paenibacillus larvae subspecies (Defra seedcorn studentship)


This studentship was run with Dr Thorunn Helgason at the University of York. Paenibacillus larvae subspecies cause a serious disease of honey bee called American foulbrood. This project collected a significant amount of genetic data which allowed recognition of the different subtypes.




Keith Delaplane
carried undertook a sabbatical at the NBU, he is Professor of Entomology and director of the honey bee research and education program at the University of Georgia (USA). He is also national director of the USDA's $4.1 million Managed Pollinator Coordinated Agricultural Project, a 17-institution consortium of scientists and extension educators working together to study and reverse bee decline. More on Professor Delaplane's work can be found here; http://www.ent.uga.edu/Bees/personnel/delaplane.html





PhDs with the University of Leeds


The NBU has acted as a host institution for laboratory rotations for PhD students from the University of Leeds. Projects include the relative pathogenicity of the two Nosema species affecting the European honey bee and investigating the genetic diversity and persistence of our wild honey bee populations. An example of the publications arising from this work can be found here; http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0105164