CIBER news

Here we provide you with recent information that is linked to our work. If you want to receive a regular update on CIBER related issues comment on them, we invite you to become a friend of our CIBER facebook page:

June 2013

A grant application written by researchers and beekeepers of CIBER successfully secured a total of 550,000 A$ of funding for honeybee research over the next 3 years. The money received will allow to strengthen the links between researchers and the bee industry and will investigate molecular interactions of honeybee diseases and the bees immune system. To read a press release by the University of Western Australia click here.

May 2013

CIBER received the 2013 Swiss Award, in recognition of the work done to safeguard honeybees both on the scientific side as well as for its outreach activities to alert a broader public about the importance of honeybees as pollinators of agricultural crops. To see some pictures of the event, click here.

April 2013

Honey week 2013 was a big success again, with a lot of activities organised such as the WA première of the "More than Honey" movie, a public lecture about honeybees at UWA, a bee exhibition at Scitech and the Honeybee festival at the end of the week. For more information click here.

January 2013

Congrats to Tamara Hartke who received a prestigious Sir Keith Murdoch Fellowship from the American Australian Association to continue her work on termites at CIBER. The fellowship will allow her to focus on interactions within and between the sexes during termite mate choice and will manipulate termite kings to understand his role in bolstering the queen's fertility and suppressing sexual development of their offspring. A press release from the University of Western Australia can be found here

December 2012

The honeybees we keep for our research are also very BEEsy collecting honey, and we so far extracted more than 1 ton of honey from the colonies we keep at the CIBER bee yards. We now produce our own CIBER honey and Devon Ward designed specific labels for different jars and honeys. The honey is given away for a small donation to cover the costs to produce, extract and bottle the honey. Any surplus will be used to fund our research.

October 2012

What caused the massive declines in honeybees in recent years and what can be done to stop or avoid such losses? As a complete picture of all the causes responsible for billions of dead bees is slowly emerging from research done all over the world, bees make headlines in the press and we are asked on a regular basis to comment new research published. For some recent articles, click here, or here or click here or an article on the Science Network.

September 2012

Why do male human beings invest substantial amounts of their money in buying expensive cars, ships and clothes? What is the effect of such male behaviours on our economy? Jason Collins published a paper providing some possible answers: Males benefit from such investments, known as conspicuous consumption, because they are honests signals of their quality and therefore preferred by females. This in return increases the overall economic activity and growth. The paper received broader interest, see for example an article in click here or read a comment here.

August 2012

The film crew of the "More than Honey" movie met in Switzerland for its Premier at the Locarno film festival. Around 8000 people watched the movie on a screen of 364 square-metres - one of the largest movie screens in Europe. We got a lot of positive feedback for the spectacular macro footage and for providing a broad insight into honeybees, both about their fascinating biology as well as about their importance as pollinators. The movie was subsequently covered by a large number of newspaper articles, receiving very positive reviews. To keep updated about the movie, click here.

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June 2012

Congratulations to Nigel Helyer who received funding from the Australian Art Council to conduct BeeWork . This project will look at Architecture - the relationship between human and insect building and the potential to hybridise and/or restructure bee building behaviour. The aim is to develop systems whereby bees can re-create or modify human designed structure. The grant allows to offer Internships to assist in areas of field work, lab and studio developments as well as exhibition preparation.

February 2012

A delegation of eleven members of the Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture and the Malaysian Rural Development Corporation visited CIBER. Similar to Australia, Malaysia is confronted with increasing problems to secure crop pollination using bees, and a number of opportunities were discussed to initiate future collaborations to address these issues.

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January 2012

For this years' CIBER retreat we decided to spend three days in the beautiful forests surrounding Perth. As the CIBER group has grown again over the last year we decided to stay at Camp Woody. Apart from looking around for all sorts of interesting wildlife and an exciting canoeing trip, we also updated each other about our work and developed new ideas for future research. We are now also able to assemble a honeybee hive blindfolded and are consequently prepared for any eventualities in the field!

December 2011

Boris Baer was awarded a fellowship to join the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. He will use his time in Germany to brainstorm about possibilities to combat or manage parasites and diseases in Australian honeybees, which would become a major research activity of CIBER in case of successful funding of a Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) on honeybees and pollination. For a press release from the University of Western Australia click here.

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November 2011

The research conducted at CIBER and its broader relevance was shown to the public during an exhibition at Parliament house in Canberra. We used this occasion to – for the first time – take along our “digital bee hive”, that allows to observe honeybees and their behaviour on a frame without the need to carry around live bees. The digital hive was done in collaboration with SPICE. at the University of Western Australia.

October 2011

The University of Western Australia appointed Prof. Paul Schmid-Hempel as a visiting professor for the next 3 years. Paul is internationally recognised for his work on the coevolution and ecology of host-parasite interactions. His experience, especially on parasites and their effects on social insects such as bees will be of great value to CIBERs future activities. For more information a look at this recent book "Evolutionary Parasitology - The Integrated Study of infections, Immunology, Ecology, and Genetics" is strongly recommended. For more information click here.


The live of honeybees, their importance as pollinators as well as the research conducted on honeybees at CIBER is featured in a special exhibition at Scitech. that will be displayed until late November. The Science of Honey Bees will take you on a journey exploring the world of bees, their relationship with humans, their decline and what is being done to save them. More details about the exhibition can also be found here.

June 2011

A week long series of radio interviews covered several aspectes of the facinating life of honeybees. The areas covered included the complexity of bee societies and their relationships with humans, their importance as pollinators and the medicinal properties of honey and other bee products. To listen to the interviews, Click here

April 2011

How do we safeguard our honeybees? A one day workshop held at the University of Western Australia brought together scientists, apiarists and representatives from the Government of Western Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Food to discuss how to address present and upcoming problems. Honeybee immunity and diseases were identified to be the major concern at the moment, and ways to intensify research in close collaboration with the bee industry became an important part of the discussions. The outcome will be the initiation of several new research projects.

April 2011

Lizzy Lowe won two awards for her research at the Young Professionals in Agriculture Forum, organised by the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology as well as the Department of Agriculture and Food. She provided the best oral presentation and received third price for her work "The effects of worker heterozgosity on individual and colony immune response in the honeybee Apis mellifera.

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March 2011

Markus Imhoof has spent three weeks at CIBER to do the actual filming for his documentary. A number of CIBERians made first appearances in front of a camera and learned that acting can be exhausting and sometimes quite repetitive! No question that we all look forward to see the result in the movie theatres later this year, for the latest update see the movie blog here .

February 2011

The CIBER team spent a few days at Preston Beach for a retreat. We used the time to update each other about our work and developed new ideas for future research. CIBER has grown substantially over the last year and a number of new projects have been initiated. We therefore used some of our time to discuss how to handle the additional challenges. Apart from that we also enjoyed the beautiful beaches and nature.

November 2010

CIBER researchers received more than 600'000 A$ of funding: Rodolfo Jaffe was awarded a Research Development Award and Tamara Hartke received an Endeavour fellowship and will join the CIBER team in 2011. International links on honeybee immunity and disease will be strengthened in 2011 through a Research Collaboration Award studying bee immune proteins in collaboration with Paul Schmid-Hempel from ETH Zurich. Finally, funding for a terabase sequencer was granted through a successful ARC LIEF grant application.

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September 2010

Researchers and beekeepers from CIBER spent an exciting day in the field, working together to find and mark newly inseminated honeybee queens from the Better Bees of WA queen breeding program. More than 700 hives were inspected but more importantly beekeeping knowledge got exchanged and new ideas for honeybee research were developed.

August 2010

CIBER organized the first event of the Western Australian section of SAAN (Swiss Australian Academic Network). Honorary guests were the Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Dr. Daniel Woker (pictured on the left) and the honorary consul of Switzerland Prof. Juerg Weber. After a public lecture on "A biologists nighmare: Sex and Society", the Joe Black Trio played a contemporary blend of violin, double bass and percussion while cocktails and drinks were served.

July 2010

CIBER postdoc Rodolfo Jaffe contributed to a recently published book surveying the apicultural practices of 33 European countries in order to provide a comprehensive picture of the magnitude and nature of European beekeeping.The book also provides guidelines for future conservation efforts and highlights the importance of promoting responsible beekeeping to preserve native European honeybee subspecies. More information about the book can be found here

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June 2010

The Western Australian Beekeepers Association and CIBER jointly held a 2 day conference on Nosema parasites of honeybees. The conference took place on the 12th and 13th of June 2010 at the University of Western Australia. Invited guest speakers were Ben Oldroyd(Australia), Randy Oliver(USA) and Juanse Barros(Chile). Workshops provided opportunities for the paticipants to identify and quantify Nosema infections in bees. The event program can be seen here and a press release by the University of Western Australia can be found here

April 2010

CIBER research published in Science:

The study provides experimental evidence that males of bees and ants use seminal fluid to harm sperm of competing males. The effect was only found in species where females mate with several males, but not in species where females only mate once. Furthermore queens seem to be able to terminate harming effects of seminal fluid by adding their own glandular secretions.

Read the abstract of the paper

Seminal fluid mediates ejaculate competition in social insects

Den Boer, S. P. A., Baer, B. & Boomsma, J. J. Science 327, 1506-1509 (2010)


Queens of ants and bees normally obtain a lifetime supply of sperm on a single day of sexual activity and sperm competition is expected to occur in lineages where queens receive sperm from multiple males. We compared singly-mated (monandrous) and multiply-mated (polyandrous) sister groups of ants and bees and show that seminal fluid of polyandrous species has a more positive effect on the survival of a male's own sperm than on other males' sperm. This difference was not observed in the monandrous species, suggesting that incapacitation of competing sperm may have independently evolved in both bees and ants. In Atta leafcutter ants the negative effect of the seminal fluid of other males was negated by secretion from the queen sperm-storage organ, suggesting that queens may control ejaculate competition after sperm storage.

or click here for more information.

March 2010

The bee movie done by our moviemaker Markus Imhoof has now an official title, "More than Honey" and is progressing fast. Most of the filming will be done this year at locations all around the world. The movie has now its own blog (both in German as well as in English) which can be found here

December 2009

Congratulations to Susanne den Boer! She successfully applied for a Marie Curie Outgoing Fellowship offered by the European community as well as a stipend for scientific exchange from the University of Copenhagen. The grants allow Susanne to move and work at CIBER for the next 2 years investigating honeybee reproduction.

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October 2009

A grant application written by researchers and beekeepers of CIBER successfully secured a total of $AUD800,000 of funding for honeybee research over the next 4 years. The money received will allow to strenghteh the links between researchers and the bee industry and will investigate causes and consequences of bee male fertility. To download the press release by the University click here.

September 2009

The fascinating biology of honeybees, their importance for human food production and the global decline of honeybees was featured in a two page article in the West Australian by Sally-Ann Jones.
To download and read the story (1.1 MB) that also mentiones CIBER please click here.

September 2009

Veronica Poland successfully applied for a Research Development Award. Veronica plans to use a molecular technique (micro arrays) in order to identify those genes that are up or down regulated when honeybee queens receive seminal fluid. The idea is to get first insights into ejaculate-female interactions in order to shed light on how sexual conflict operates on the molecular level.

August 2009

The global decline of honeybees and its possible causes and consequences as well as the scientifc work currently conducted at CIBER were feartured by two radio interviews, one aired on ABC and a second one by 6RTR

August 2009

Entomology Australia is devoted to raising the profile of entomological education in Australia and CIBER and its activities is the featured research of the month. To visit the Website click here

July 2009

Congratulations to Tiffane Bates and Rodolfo Jaffe. Both won prestigious fellowships to continue their research on honeybees. Tiffane Bates received a Churchill fellowship which offers her the opportunity to investigate possible pathways to prepare Australian bees for the arrival of the Varroa mite. Rodolfo Jaffe won a postdoctoral stipendium from the University of Western Australia and will join the CIBER group later this year. Rodolfo wants to intensify his work on the mating biology of honeybees.

July 2009

An article about CIBER is published this month in the Australasian Beekeeper. The online version of the journal can be accessed here. To read an electronic version of the article click here


June 2009

The honeybee work done by CIBER researchers is mentioned in the latest edition of Uniview. To download and read the article click here.

CIBER is also featured in the latest edition of the UWA News. To see this article click here.

June 2009

Ciber researchers received funding by the Worldwide Universities Network. The money granted will allow to intensify the collaborative work done between the University of Western Australia and the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom. A main aim of the work supported will be to initiate research that identifies and studies sexually transmitted diseases in honeybees over the next 12 month.

May 2009

Ciber researcher Boris Baer was involved in a collaborative study that now got published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, Biological Sciences. The paper reports a first case of a clonal ant species without any sexual reproduction. Several newspapers picked up the story presented in the paper, for example BBC News, the Telegraph or National Geographic. The work is also mentioned at Wikipedia.

May 2009

The Swiss Ambassador to Australia, Dr. Daniel Woker, accompanied by the honorary consul of Switzerland Dr. Juerg Weber and his wife Elisabeth Weber, visited CIBER. The visitors were provided with a brief overview of the work performed at CIBER and discussed possibilities to strengthen scientific links and exchange between Switzerland and Australia, for example through activities organised by SAAN, the Swiss Australian Academic Network.

April 2009

Susanne den Boer has succesfully defended her PhD work. Congratulations! Her future plans are to continue working on honeybee reproduction and to join the Ciber team in Perth again early next year.

January 2009

Ciber beekeeper Tiffane Bates talked about her work on the Radio. To listen to what she had to say — right click to download mp3 (3.5MB 15mins) or listen now:

October 2008

The honeybee reseach conducted at the University of Western Australia is mentioned in the UWA news. To see the article Click here

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