Mr Donald Howard

Research project: The Pollenbee Project


The Pollenbee Project is a PhD research scholarship in Engineering addressing the environmental problem of decline in honeybee colonies, which are the most important pollinators in the human food chain.

The aim of the Pollenbee project is the improved welfare of honeybees and their improved fitness as pollinators. We believe this can be done by engineering the reintroduction of wild or feral honeybees, which are considered functionally extinct.

The principle thesis of the Pollenbee project is that the behavioural, phenological and genetic manipulation of domestic honeybees for increased honey yield, compounded by the demise of the wild or feral honeybee, is a contributing factor to colony decline by restricting the bee's ability to respond to environmental change through natural selection.  Our proposal was to study honeybees in their feral state and measure the difference.  We decided to call our managed feral honeybees ‘Pollenbees' to distinguish between them.

The objectives of the Pollenbee Project are1. to develop a Pollenbee hive which is tailored to the Pollenbee's requirements, 2. to engineer a method of Pollenbee keeping to reintroduce honeybees back into the wild, and 3. to deploy a set of micro controller based hive monitors to collect and record data for analysis.


I am a Master of Mechanical Engineering with a keen interest in environmental issues. I am fluent in French and have 10 years experience in IT with a further 10 years experience in Construction, Service & Teaching.  I have taught skiing extensively as a BASI snowsports instructor, have taught juggling skills in more casual workshops. As a keen guitarist, I also have a good understanding of, and ability to communicate, skill acquisition. I have a practical, hands on approach to work and combine logic with creativity in a way that allows me to think outside the box.

Areas of research interest

  • Mechatronics
  • Systems
  • Environment and conservation
  • Micro-control and micro-computing
  • Python & Matlab
  • Design


  • MEng

Funding or awards received

  • The Dean's Prize, Jan 2014, Kingston University: The Dean's prize for the Faculty's best performing student entering from a foundation year.
  • The Institute Best Student Certificate, Jan 2014, Kingston University: For meritorious performance on the MEng mechanical engineering course at Kingston University.
  • The School of Mechanical & Automotive Engineering Prize, Jul 2013, Kingston University: The School of Mechanical & Automotive Engineering Prize, for outstanding research, development or design project on the M Eng programme.