This week, Ingrid and I have been brainstorming ideas on where to take our project now. The one thing we have both been wanting to attempt is to keep honey bees (yes, live bees) in the T.I.M.E. room. So we asked Mrs. William’s and she was all for it! With the help of Mr. Tuckey, Ingrid and I constructed a makeshift “home away from home” for our little friends. I’m sure you’re wondering, “Why on earth would they want or need to keep bees in the T.I.M.E. room?”. Like I said earlier, we are trying to come up with some way to take our project to the next level. One way that researchers have stated that Nosema is transmitted is through fecal matter. Our goal is to collect the feces of the honey bees and test it for the presence of Nosema. The only problem with this idea is that bees have such cleanly habits, that it is difficult to even find traces of any kind of fecal matter within or outside of the hives. That is why we plan on keeping them in the classroom. We (along with the creativity and help of Mr. Tuckey) designed and built our bees a “home” which will prevent them from cleaning up their feces. All it took was a plastic jar with a lid, an Exacto Knife, some mesh wire, a hot glue gun and some cardboard. It didn’t cost us anything and was super easy to make. We cut out a small window and placed the wire on top of it to allow airflow into the “home” and a small hole with a lid in the top which will be how we put the bees into the “home”. The lid will be what we hope the feces is collected in, and inside of the jar, at the very bottom, we glued another piece of wire to allow the feces to fall into the lid. Once the feces falls through the wire and into the lid, the bees will no longer be able to get to the feces which will prevent them from cleaning it up. If this is successful, we will then be able to test the fecal matter for Nosema and allow us a better insight on how and where Nosema is being transmitted.
This past week, Ingrid and I have been working hard and doing a lot of research to prepare us for our experiments. We have diligently emailed multiple doctors in the field of apiculture (bee keeping) , asking for Nosema spp. DNA and FINALLY we heard back from Dr. Deanna Colby (along with Dr. Kate Aronstein) and Dr. David Tarpy. Dr. Colby is very graciously sending us both N. apis and N. cerenae DNA from Dr. Aronstein’s supply! So while we were waiting, Ingrid and I decided to attempt extracting DNA on our own Nosema samples. We began by filtering our spore samples in order to get rid of all the extra junk we don’t need. Afterwards we centrifuged all samples, removed the supernatant (or the actual DNA), bead beat two of the four samples, and began making gels for our PCR analysis. Next week, we plan on beginning our PCR analysis with both our DNA we have collected and with the DNA Dr. Colby has given us. If all goes as planned, we will know what species of Nosema is present here in Transylvania County!