Laine Callaghan

Precision Apiculture: enhancing the health and effectiveness of managed honeybees for soft fruit production.

I have always been fascinated by ecology, exploring nature in both my degrees and my travels. I particularly enjoy invertebrates. For my master’s dissertation I investigated a population of rare moth species at their last remaining English colony and in my spare time I care for tarantulas.

At Lancaster University I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degree, grasping the foundations of biology before exploring ecology and conservation in more detail. I learned that in order to achieve sustainable crop production, first we must consider more than the environment.

My PhD project is based at the University of Reading and is focused on improving the management of honeybee colonies in soft-fruit farms. The aim of the project is to find the optimum conditions in which to keep the hives in order to conserve honeybee health and boost productivity for the farmer.

By working with BerryWorld and The World Bee Project, I will monitor honeybee activity using high-tech in-hive sensors across a range of conditions. These sensors can measure hive weight, temperature, humidity and even the number of bees entering and exiting the hive. Initially, our experiments will focus on the impact of hive distance from the crop, but may expand to hive density, size or positioning in the future.

In doing so, we hope to build a novel tool that can be utilised on soft-fruit farms across the UK to inform the effective management of honeybee colonies.

Based at: University of Reading

Industry Partner: BerryWorld

University of Reading