Research Spotlights

In addition to running a rooftop apiary in our nation’s capital, the members of the GW Apiary also independently plan and execute experiments designed to identify the environmental and urban factors jeopardizing honeybee populations. Read below to see what interesting experiments our beekeepers are performing!

Farhana Alam is a junior majoring in Neuroscience and joined the bee team as a rising sophomore in the summer of 2019. She’s been active in projects exploring the impact of the glyphosate herbicide on honeybee retention via the Proboscis Extension Retention Project and the Maze Project. The Maze Project includes having bees being classically conditioned to complete a complex maze and then testing their retention after being fed solution containing sublethal dosage of glyphosate.

Camille Leoni is a senior majoring in biology and minoring in art history. She is a senior beekeeper at the GW Apiary and has been a member of the lab since her freshman year. This fall, she tested the effects of sublethal doses of dicamba, a common herbicide, on the cognitive function of honeybees. Using classical conditioning in the form of the Proboscis Extension Reflex, the associative learning abilities of honeybees exposed to either dicamba or sugar water were observed. Preliminary results reveal that the learning and memory capabilities of honeybees were diminished when exposed to sublethal doses of dicamba. Honeybees depend on associative learning to forage for food and communicate with other honeybees.

Fiona Lupi is a senior majoring in biology and is a senior beekeeper at the GW Apiary. This fall, she researched the effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) on worker bee health and longevity. When processed foods are heated, HFCS is reduced into hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF); many studies have shown that HMF has negative effects in honeybee intestines. Her results show that honeybees that ingested drinks with higher concentrations of HFCS displayed a higher mortality rate than those exposed to drinks with lower concentrations of HFCS. Furthermore, the honeybees’ clumping behavior varied based on what beverage they had ingested. More specifically, there appeared to be an indirect relationship between clumping behavior and the concentration of HFCS.

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