Pupils learn to use science to monitor bee health

Published: 12 December 2020

Pupils have worked with scientists from the Roslin Institute who are experienced beekeepers to test their schools’ honeybees for a common parasite.

The pupils collected samples from their schools’ apiaries and analysed them to test if the bees had a parasite called Nosema, by using DNA and microscope analysis at EBSOC – a University of Edinburgh purpose-built lab for schools and communities.

News Ri Beekeepers

Part of their project took place during the pandemic lockdown, when the pupils sent samples to scientists, who filmed the analyses for them.

A video featuring pupils from the project has been shown during anniversary celebrations for the Royal Society, which funded the project.

It is satisfying to see that learning science in the context of a fascinating topic such as honeybees can appeal to young people who have not previously shown an interest in these sciences.

Ray Baxter, Teacher at Kelso High School

This project enabled the pupils to better understand honeybee health and the science required to monitor it, so that they can manage their hives.

Working with Roslin scientists, first at EBSOC and later remotely, was an opportunity for the pupils to engage with science and a number of them are now considering a science qualification and career.

The pupils had an immersive hands-on experience. It was great to see that the pandemic did not stop the pupils from pursuing their investigations and we were happy to conduct these for them.

Dr Mark Barnett, Research Fellow at the Roslin Institute and coordinator of the Campus apiary

This project has been a fantastic opportunity for National Progression Award (NPA) Beekeeping students to develop their scientific knowledge, whilst making a valuable contribution to our understanding of the species. It’s clear that the young researchers were really engaged in the project, and it’s great that it has inspired many of them to consider a science qualification and career. ​​​​​​​

Anne Boyd, Qualifications Manager for NPA Beekeeping, SQA

My daughter is really enjoying this project. She said that having the opportunity to work with such inspiring people is wonderful and it has really helped her to develop her skills and understanding of honey bee health.

Parent, Scottish young beekeepers

Our bee lab workshop is open to schools from all over Scotland. We look forward to supporting young beekeepers in using science to monitor the health of their bees.

Jayne Quoiani, Education & Engagement Officer, Roslin Institute and EBSOC

This is the way to light up young peoples' interest in science. Beekeeping is fascinating in itself, but for these young beekeepers also to have the opportunity to investigate bee health with real scientists and using real scientific methods is inspiring.

Bron Wright, Scottish Beekeepers’ Association Young Beekeepers' Officer

Thank you for treating us like adults and valuing our opinions. It has been fascinating working with scientists who are experts in this area. It is has been so rewarding to learn about something so meaningful and important.

Daisy-Powell McCallum, Kelso High School – Bee Club

This project has been funded by the Royal Society Schools Partnership Grant scheme and supported by Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA).

Watch the video produced featuring pupils from the project.



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