Research beehives

Research themes
Industrial imaging
Medical and biological
Positioning and timing
Space weather
Insect tomography videos
→ Research beehives
TOPCAT experiment
Tomography tutorial
Antarctica 2010
Antarctica 2011
Cape Verde 2011
Realtime data
European ionosphere
European ionosphere 3D
Scintillation receivers
About the group
Contact information
Group members
Beacon 2013 Symposium

The Invert group keeps two beehives for research purposes. (See the medical and biological imaging page for more information.) Both beehives were started as healthy nucleus colonies. They are currently expanding and should fill their entire hive boxes by the end of September 2011. They are kept at the teaching apiary on the Bath site of the Avon Beekeepers Association.

Setting up the hives

The hives, located at the Avon Beekeepers Association's teaching apiary.

The nucleus colonies are transferred to the empty hives.

Closeup of bees on a comb.

Observing hives with X-ray tomography

The hives will periodically be examined using X-ray tomography, allowing the internal behaviour of the hives to be observed non-invasively.

Conventionally, when a beehive is opened up, a "smoker" is used to blow smoke into the colony. The smoke tricks the bees into thinking that a forest fire is occurring nearby, causing them to prepare for evacuation, and abandon normal colony behaviour. (If the smoker was not used, the bees usually prepare to defend the colony against the intrusion). From the point of view of researching colony behaviour, a smoker is disruptive, as it intentionally causes abnormal behaviour. Thus, using X-ray tomography solves this problem.

X-ray tomography image of a live beehive (click to enlarge).

The Invert hives have yet to be scanned (the above image is of a different colony) but we hope to do so soon. Videos derived from similar scans can be seen here.

Observing bee brains with X-ray tomography

The hives will provide living subjects for 3D X-ray micro-tomographic imaging. The technique is non-invasive, and after being scanned, the bees will be returned to the hive unharmed. Of particular interest is the brain, and its development.

X-ray CT image of a bee brain.