Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
Work smarter with a Pro licence Learn More

Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 

Lasers Will Target Pest Ravaging Honey Bees In University Of Auckland Experiments

Tiny lasers stationed at honey bees’ hives will disable and kill varroa mites in experiments aimed at defeating the parasitic pest ravaging bee colonies around the world.

Devising a cheap tool for beekeepers to protect bee colonies without using pesticides is the aim of scientists led by Dr Francesco Merola and Professor Cather Simpson at the University of Auckland’s Photon Factory, in a collaborative project with New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research.

Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) cling to bees to enter hives but tiny lasers stationed at beehive entrances can target the mites and prevent them from infesting and critically damaging the hive, the scientists believe.

“Our goal is to free bees to do their important agricultural work by allowing beehives to thrive again, to be more resilient, healthy homes for bees,” says Merola.

“It’s an ambitious project which will make a difference all over the world if we’re successful,” says Simpson.

Varroa mites feed on honey bees, larvae and pupae, spread disease, and can cause bee colonies to collapse. As bees have a critical role as crop pollinators, Varroa mites represent aglobal threat to food security.

Merola, of Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Auckland, will test how different laser blasts affect bees and mites, working in a containment laboratory at a Plant & Food Research facility in Hamilton.

Merola previously worked at Engender Technologies, a University spin-off founded by Simpson that sorts sperm by sex for the dairy industry.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

The University’s Photon Factory is collaborating with Plant & Food Research’s Bee Biology and Productivity Team led by Dr James Sainsbury. Industry advisers include representatives of Apiculture New Zealand, Comvita, and the Māori beekeeping industry.

A $1 million “Smart Idea” grant from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Endeavour Fund is supporting the project, which aims to create a device for New Zealand and abroad.

In a five-year plan, research and development are slated to take two years, followed by commercialisation. Challenges will include creating a device easy to fit to the hive which bees are happy to move through.

Advanced optical spectroscopy methods are key techniques the science team will use to understand the structures of key biochemical components in the bees and mites, including proteins, lipids, and pigments.

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 
GenPro: General Practices Begin Issuing Clause 14 Notices

GenPro has been copied into a rising number of Clause 14 notices issued since the NZNO lodged its Primary Practice Pay Equity Claim against General Practice employers in December 2023.More

SPADA: Screen Industry Unites For Streaming Platform Regulation & Intellectual Property Protections

In an unprecedented international collaboration, representatives of screen producing organisations from around the world have released a joint statement.More

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.