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A Mathematical Investigation of a Honeybee Colony Exposed to Contaminated Food and the Influence of Variation of Duration in Seasons on Long Term Behaviour

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Title: A Mathematical Investigation of a Honeybee Colony Exposed to Contaminated Food and the Influence of Variation of Duration in Seasons on Long Term Behaviour
Author: Yam, Richard
Department: Department of Mathematics and Statistics
Program: Mathematics and Statistics
Advisor: Eberl, Hermann
Abstract: Over the past few decades, honeybee colonies worldwide have been failing owing to a variety of different stressors. While the true cause of honeybee failure is unknown, a group of insecticides referred to as neonicotinoids are known to cause behavioural changes in honeybees upon contact and even quicker death upon consumption, making them a prime suspect. Honeybees and insecticides are two crucial components of agriculture, thereby raising the question of whether or not these two things can co-exist. This thesis uses differential equation modeling to represent a honeybee colony exposed to food contaminated with neonicotinoids. Under the assumptions of the model, bees are divided into brood, hive, and forager bees and food may be contaminated and uncontaminated. Food availability is assumed to be an influence on the honeybee population as well as a route for neonicotinoids to enter hives. Using computational simulations, we study and analyze the short- and long-term behaviour of variation of duration in seasons and varying levels of neonicotinoid contamination. Our simulation results suggest that a honeybee colony under the influence of variation of duration in season does not influence colony stability. However, when neonicotinoid contamination enters the hive, the colony loses strength from the contamination, making failure a possibility. When both are combined, we get more complex solutions and the stochastic nature of the seasons has the ability to restore the strength of a colony that was failing under constant seasonal duration. We conclude by studying the removal of neonicotinoids after the colony has experienced long-term exposure as a means of a treatment. Results suggest that colonies are able to restore stability following the removal of neonicotinoids from the hive.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10214/10124
Date: 2016-12
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