The Buzz on Bee Size
Kali Cox graduated in May 2019 with a degree in biology. She and her collaborator Jake Herman completed the project below with guidance from faculty mentor Dr. Olav Rueppell.
Describe your project.
I wanted to know what impact honeybee body size has on the number of ovarioles present or produced in their ovaries. An ovariole is a clear tube inside an ovary where eggs are normally stored. Honeybees can have multiple ovarioles. Specifically, I was investigating if ovary size and number of ovarioles are dependent or independent of overall body size, in small and normal colonies.
I became interested in this project after talking to members of the lab and my professor. The one professor that was inspiring to me is Dr. Olav Rueppell. He has so much knowledge and I found talking to him about my ideas and research always made me feel more inspired to continue my research in the future.
After reading articles on ovaries and honeybees, I wanted to learn more about it all. I found that there had not been as much research on the ovaries of honeybees as I thought, and I wanted to explore this more. I found the ovaries to be very intriguing.
The different body measurements of the bees were positively correlated in general, but all external body size measurements trended towards a negative correlation with ovary size –particularly the head width and the thorax width.
Basically, an increased body size did not necessarily determine a higher number of ovarioles. A decreased body size did not necessarily determine a lower number of ovarioles present in the bees. While the queen is bigger and has a much bigger ovary than workers, the same relationship between body size and ovary size did not hold true among the workers.
I presented my research at the Carolyn & Norwood Thomas Undergraduate Research and Creativity Expo in the spring 2019 semester.
Honeybees are an important part of pollination, which plays an important part in human survival. My study proved to be more complicated than anticipated. More studies are needed to disentangle the consequences of body size variation in honeybees. However, my project expands our knowledge on this topic.
For my project, I used a microscope, size-measuring technology, and statistical testing programs.
I was surprised by the amount of information that I have learned since starting my research project and the joy I have found in engaging in research activities.
I have learned to use statistical software programs, which I had no previous knowledge on.
One of the difficulties I encountered was learning to dissect the ovaries in a honeybee. I overcame this by practicing the procedure daily. I also learned to correctly identify the ovary and the number of ovarioles in honeybee abdomens.
This project changed from the beginning of the first proposal I had, as most research does.
You have problems you run into or questions that cannot be answered, and so you have to come up with new questions and new ways to conduct the research.
Seize your opportunity.
I think it has been a wonderful opportunity to be able to participate in undergraduate research and benefit from the URSCO grant I received for this research.
It has ignited a love of research I did not know I had before and has convinced me to continue on to graduate school. It has helped me grow as a scholar in biology and has given me many opportunities to meet other researchers and attend conferences on different types of studies being conducted in the scientific community.
My advice for incoming students would be to pursue any type of research offered. It can help in future careers, you gain experience in public speaking, and you will learn much more about a subject due to being engaged in the process.
Interview by Hope Voorhees
The URSCO blog helps UNCG’s undergraduate scholars share their work and impact with the world. Interested in sharing your work? Contact URSCO Director Lee Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or Office of Research and Engagement Media and Communication Manager Sangeetha Shivaji at email@example.com.