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Trainee opportunity in honeybee research at FiBL 2020, Switzerland

Topic

Chemical-free treatment against Varroa destructor in honeybees: Field trial of a high-tech, self-learning and comb-integrated thermal treatment – effects on Varroa reproduction and honeybee colony growth dynamics, brood mortality and gene expression profiles

Problem

Treatments against Varroa destructor, the main parasite of the honeybee, Apis mellifera, generally include chemicals that may cause substantial side-effects and/or residue accumulation. Higher susceptibility of Varroa mites towards increased temperatures is known but practically feasible solutions for thermal treatments are yet missing. Within a joint innovation project we test a straightforward thermal treatment integrated into wax foundations (within combs) selectively activated during the sensitive phase of Varroa reproduction shortly after brood cell capping (sensor-based). Potential positive as well as negative effects will be thoroughly assessed during an extended field trial (actual post) and subsequent molecular analyses.

Methods

Comparison of heat-treated colonies versus colonies treated according to common good beekeeping practice (particularly formic acid and oxalic acid treatments against Varroa), at each four different apiaries (48 colonies in total) over a one year period (2020-2021): – Varroa levels (natural mortality and standard powdered sugar honeybee sampling). – Colony growth dynamics over time and productivity (according to Liebefelder method). – Digital brood (mortality) assessments of several brood cycles throughout the season (successive comb photographing and subsequent software analyses). – repeated bee sampling for honeybee gene expression profiles and transcriptomics of viral/pathogenic landscapes (collaborating partner University of Hohenheim).

Qualification

high motivation and interest in honeybee research; ideally extended practical beekeeping experience and basic data management skills; faible for technical solutions for biological problems, and basic skills in photography; no allergies against bee stings or propolis; language: German or English; ability to work in a team, self-dependence and driver’s licence (field car available).

Location

Winterthur (practical works) and Frick (data works), Switzerland.

Period

As of March 2020 and no later than May 2020 (for up to 9 months)

Optional

Data generation may well be used for parallel or subsequent Master Thesis preparation (co-supervision by FiBL and any international University).

Compensation

Yes, according to FiBL trainee rates, depending on graduation (but no academic degree would necessarily be required).

Accomodation

Can be provided at comparatively low costs at the FiBL campus in Frick.

Contact

Dr. Christoph Sandrock Email: christoph.sandrock@fibl.org; Phone: +41 (0) 62 865 04 19

Address

Research Institute of Organic Agriculture FiBL
Ackerstrasse 113
Postfach 219
5070 Frick
Switzerland
Phone +41 62 865 72 72
info.suisse@fibl.org
www.fibl.org