I study the factors that influence honey bee vulnerability to European Foul Brood (EFB) so that we may develop and promote evidence-based disease management strategies. My PhD is being undertaken through funding from Bee Disease Insurance Limited and the CB Dennis Trust and is supervised by Dr Peter Graystock and Dr Richard Gill from Imperial College London and Dr Sophie Evison from Nottingham University.
European Foulbrood is a globally distributed disease that kills developing brood and incurs energetic costs to surviving adults, which significantly impairs hive fitness. It is one of the only two microbial bee diseases, the other being American Foulbrood, where positive detection in the UK warrants immediate notification of the authorities. This indicates the serious nature of the disease and its potential for rapid spread to other colonies. In my PhD, l investigate how the bacteria responsible for causing EFB, Melissococcus plutonius, is transmitted. Additionally, I explore some of the factors that may change the bacteria's virulence, which may allow me to identify some management practices that reduce the severity of the disease in beekeepers’ hives.
Before coming to Imperial College London, I completed my undergraduate degree at Royal Holloway University of London. There, I joined the Insect Cognition Lab as a volunteer and quickly became mesmerized with bees. Since then, I took on an individual research project exploring bumblebee social foraging behaviour, completed an MRes at University College London, where I explored population genetics of the common wasp and worked with the Natural History Museum in London to model farm management strategies to target herbicide-resistant weeds.