Professor Juliet Osborne, Dr Grace Twiston-Davies and Dr Matthais Becher (photo credit: Peter Kennedy)

‘BEEHAVE’ project up for award

A project which helps protect bees has been nominated for an innovation award. 

BEEHAVE, developed at the University of Exeter and Rothamsted Research, is a computer model which simulates how a honeybee colony will develop and survive in different surroundings.

The model is already being used by farmers, scientists and regulators to decide how to manage land and how to intervene to help bees.

The BEEHAVE team are finalists for the 2017 BBSRC Innovator of the Year award.

“We’re delighted that our work translating fundamental research into practical, user-friendly tools has been recognised in this way,” said team leader Professor Juliet Osborne.

“Doing the research itself is fascinating, but it is also rewarding to create something that people find so useful.”

Professor Osborne, who has recently been appointed director of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the university’s Penryn Campus in Cornwall, leads the nominated BEEHAVE team which includes Dr Matthias Becher (Research Fellow, model developer), Dr Grace Twiston-Davies (NERC Impact Fellow) and collaborator Professor Volker Grimm of UFZ Leipzig, Germany.

The BEEHAVE computer models can be used to simulate the effects of multiple “stressors” – factors such as disease, pesticides, land-use change and beekeeping interventions. And forage availability – nectar and pollen resources – can be translated from real to virtual landscapes via a user-friendly mobile app.

BEEHAVE has attracted substantial interest from regulators and agrochemical companies.

The European Food Safety Authority has evaluated BEEHAVE and is now using it as the framework to design further models for bee health risk assessments.

With pollinator populations in decline, posing a considerable threat to global food production, BEEHAVE aims to build pollinator resilience through informed land management and beekeeping practices.

The BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition recognises the important impact bioscience research and innovation has on lives, society and the economy.

The BEEHAVE team has been nominated in the social impact category and the winner will be announced on 24 May.

Date: 9 May 2017