Changes in physiological and immune parameters of bees during the year

There are more differences between short-lived and long-lived generations of bees than their activities alone

21 May 2020

Mgr. Martin Kunc Ph.D. has just published an article in the magazine 'Beekeeping' (published by the Czech Beekeepers Association), where he summarises the results of his research, originally published in the journal ‘Insects'.

Martin’s paper, which discusses the differences between short and long-term generations of bees, highlights the range of differing physiological and immune parameters in the two generations in addition to their differing activity patterns.

Short-lived bee population (15-48 day life spans) occur in the summer months and have the task of gathering enough supplies for the hive, while the long-lived population (life expectancy up to 8 months) relies on the accumulated supplies to survive the harsh winter.

For beekeepers, it is important to know the proportion of long-lived bees in the population at the beginning of autumn as this will tell them whether or not the bee population will survive the winter.
Unfortunately, the two populations cannot be distinguished by any external signs. However, Martin, as part of the group led by doc. Pavel Hyršl, has managed to determine a set of physiological and immune parameters measurable in the haemolymph of bees that allows beekeepers to recognize how many of the two generations are in the bee population.

It is hoped that the discoveries of doc. Pavel Hyrsl and his team will develop into increased collaboration between the beekeeping community and research laboratories, with beekeepers sending samples for measurement and the results helping prevent bee losses over winter.

Congratulations on your publication and scientific success!

Mgr. Martin Kunc, Ph.D. 

  • Martin is 28 years old and his hobbies include hiking, squash, volleyball, sci-fi and fantasy books and games.
  • Martin’s interest in studying biology stems from early an interest in natural history documentaries, especially those from David Attenborough.
  • Martin obtained his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Experimental Animal Biology and Immunology Department at the Faculty of Science, Masaryk University in Brno.
  • Martin continued his Doctoral studies at the same faculty, successfully completing his Doctorate this year.
  • During his studies, he focused mainly on the immune reactions of insect model organisms, including the vinegar beetle Drosophila melanogaster, the greater wax moth Galleria mellonella and the honey bee Apis melifera.
  • Martin currently works at the Department of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University in Brno, specifically at the Section of Animal Physiology and Immunology. He is currently specialising on immunology, with a focus on insect model organisms. Martin is part of the research group of doc. RNDr. Pavel Hyršl, Ph.D., who, among other things, deals with research into bee diseases and sustainable beekeeping, for which he received a grant from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic.

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