Dr James Makinson

Rm: 2.16 Fogg Building

Email: j.makinson@qmul.ac.uk

Research interests

I joined the Queen Mary lab to work on an ERC funded project titled ‘Space use by bees – radar tracking of spatial movement patterns of key pollinators’. In collaboration with the radar entomology unit at Rothamsted Research, we shall be using harmonic radar to track the flight patterns of bumblebees, honeybees and a variety of other economically important pollinator species. By tracking the movements of these pollinators in a range of different contexts we plan to tease apart the behavioural rules used by these organisms to memorise their surrounding environment, recruit conspecifics to valuable resources and balance the hunt for mates and/or nesting locations with the search for food.

In 2013 I completed a PhD at Sydney University studying the process of collective decision-making during swarming in the western honeybee (Apis mellifera), giant Asian honeybee (Apis dorsata) and red dwarf honeybee (Apis florea). I demonstrated that differences in the specificity of nesting requirements affects the behavioural rules used by different honeybee species during the swarming process. Using the harmonic radar system I hope to answer further questions about navigation and house-hunting in honeybee swarms.

In the year following the completion of my PhD I detoured temporarily from my study of social insects, instead assisting on a project trying to measure bee abundance and diversity in the Sydney region. Through my work on this topic with Dr Tanya Latty of Sydney University I have developed a passion for public engagement in science. I hope to bring this enthusiasm to my new position here in the Bee Sensory and Behavioural Ecology lab at Queen Mary University of London.

Education and work history

2014-Present. Postdoctoral researcher, Queen Mary University of London, UK (Prof. Lars Chittka).
2013-2014. Research assistant, University of Sydney, Australia (Dr Tanya Latty).
2010-2013. PhD, University of Sydney, Australia (Prof. Madeleine Beekman & Prof. Benjamin P. Oldroyd).
2005-2009. BSc (1st Class Honours), University of Sydney, Australia.


Makinson, J.C., Schaerf, T.M., Rattanawannee, A., Oldroyd, B.P. & Beekman, M. (2014) Consensus building in giant Asian honey bee (Apis dorsata) swarms on the move. Animal Behaviour. 93, 191-199.


Makinson J.C., Beekman, M. (2014) Moving without a purpose: an experimental study of swarm guidance in the Western honey bee (Apis mellifera Linnaeus). The Journal of Experimental Biology. 103283.


Schaerf T.M., Makinson J.C., Myerscough, M.R.& Beekman, M. (2013) Do small swarms have an advantage when house hunting? - The effect of swarm size on nest-site selection by Apis mellifera. Journal of The Royal Society Interface. 10 (87), 20130533.


Schaerf, T.M., Myerscough, M.R., Makinson, J.C., Beekman, M. (2011) Inaccurate and unverified information in decision making: a model for the nest site selection process of Apis florea. Animal Behaviour. 82(5): 995-1013.


Makinson, J.C., Oldroyd, B.P., Schaerf, T.M., Wattanachaiyingcharoen, W. & Beekman, M. (2011) Moving home: nest-site selection in the Red Dwarf honeybee (Apis florea). Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology. 65:945-958.


Chapman, N.C., Makinson, J.C., Beekman, M. & Oldroyd, B.P. (2009) Honeybee, Apis mellifera, guards use adaptive acceptance thresholds to limit worker reproductive parasitism. Animal Behaviour. 78:1205-1211.


Relevant web links

Collaborators at Rothamsted Research: www.rothamsted.ac.uk/radar-entomology-unit
Personal twitter account: www.twitter.com/JamesMakinson
Personal website: www.james-c-makinson.com