Doctor James Makinson

James C Makinson I am a behavioural ecologist interested in the foraging ecology and communication behaviour of social Hymenoptera such as honey bees, bumblebees and stingless bees. At the start of 2019 I commenced employment at HIE as a postdoctoral research fellow studying stingless bee biology and pollination services. My area of focus is the foraging behaviour of stingless bees on tropical crops such as macadamia, avocado, lychee and mango. I am particularly interested in monitoring the foraging behaviour of Australian stingless bees using telemetry and hive monitoring technology.

Prior to my current position I was jointly based at Queen Mary University of London and Rothamsted Research, where I used harmonic radar technology to track the flight paths of honey bees and bumblebees. During my PhD I studied collective behaviour in European and Asian honey bees, decoding the waggle dance communication system to understand how relocating honey bee swarms co-ordinate group departure. Through my work I have organised and conducted numerous field trips in Australia, Thailand, the UK and Spain.

Areas of research/teaching expertise

Behaviour, animal communication, collective decision-making, pollination, foraging ecology.

Awards and recognition
  • Anne Sleep Award, 2017
  • 1st place, FameLab Australia 2014 NSW state heat
  • Sydney University Science Communication Prize, 2012
  • Centre of Mathematical Biology (CMB) top-up award, 2011-2013
  • Australian Postgraduate Award (APA), 2009-2013

Supporting the health and expansion of the Australian stingless bee industry 
Co-Researchers: James Cook, Markus Riegler, Robert Spooner-Hart , Sally Power, Amy-Marie Gilpin
Partner/Funding Body: Horticulture Innovation Australia 
Period: 2023-2028

How will climate change impact mango cultivars and their pollinators?
Co-Researcher:  James Cook
Partner/funding body: Australia-India Council

Period: 2022-2025

Crop and varietal data to better understand the importance of pollination
Co-Researchers: James Cook, Markus Riegler, Ben Moore, Sally Power and James Makinson
Partner/Funding Body: Horticulture Innovation Australia [via Plant and Food Research, New Zealand]

Period: 2022-2026

  • Envision Studentship PhD scholarship, from 2018-2020
  • Percy Sladen Memorial Fund Grant, 2015
  • Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS), 2013
  • Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS), 2012
  • IUSSI student travel grant, 2012
  • ASSAB Student Grant, 2011
  • IUSSI student travel grant, 2011
  • Endeavour Research Fellowship, 2010-2011
  • Postgraduate Research Support Scheme (PRSS), 2010

Hahs AK, Fournier B, Aronson MFJ, Nilon CH, Herrera-Montes A, Salisbury AB, Threlfall CG, Rega-Brodsky CC, Lepczyk CA, La Sorte FA, MacGregor-Fors I, Scott MacIvor J, Jung K, Piana MR, Williams, Nicholas SG, Knapp S, Vergnes A, Acevedo AA, Gainsbury AM, Rainho A, Hamer AJ, Shwartz A, Voigt CC, Lewanzik D, Lowenstein DM, O’Brien D, Tommasi D, Pineda E, Carpenter ES, Belskaya E, Lövei GL, Makinson JC, Coleman JL, Sadler JP, Shroyer J, Shapiro JT, Baldock KCR, Ksiazek-Mikenas K, Matteson KC, Barrett K, Siles L, Aguirre LF, Armesto LO, Zalewski M, Herrera-Montes MI, Obrist MK, Tonietto RK, Gagné SA, Hinners SJ, Latty T, Surasinghe TD, Sattler T, Magura T, Ulrich W, Elek Z, Castañeda-Oviedo J, Torrado R, Kotze DJ, Moretti M, (2023) 'Urbanisation generates multiple trait syndromes for terrestrial animal taxa worldwide', Nature communications, vol.14, no.1, art no.4751

Smith ML, Loope KJ, Chuttong B, Dobelmann J, Makinson JC, Saga T, Petersen KH, Napp N, (2023) 'Honey bees and social wasps reach convergent architectural solutions to nest-building problems', PLoS Biology, vol.21, no.7, Article no.e3002211

Le Gros KS, Makinson JC, Spooner-Hart RN, (2022) 'Hygienic behaviour in the Australian stingless bees Tetragonula carbonaria and T. hockingsi', Journal of Apicultural Research, vol.61, no.5, pp 578-590

Brebner JS, Makinson JC, Bates OK, Rossi N, Lim KS, Dubois T, Gomez-Moracho T, Lihoreau M, Chittka L, Woodgate JL, (2021) 'Bumble bees strategically use ground level linear features in navigation', Animal Behaviour, vol.179, pp 147-160, Article no.306

Williams SM, Aldabashi N, Palego C, Woodgate JL, Makinson JC, Cross P, (2021) 'Early prediction of bumblebee flight task using machine learning', Computers and Electronics in Agriculture, vol.184, Article no.106065

Woodgate JL, Makinson JC, Rossi N, Lim KS, Reynolds AM, Rawlings CJ, Chittka L, (2021) 'Harmonic radar tracking reveals that honeybee drones navigate between multiple aerial leks', IScience, vol.24, no.6, Article no.102499

Lou D, Reid CR, Makinson JC, Beekman M, Latty T, (2019) 'Route selection but not trail clearing are influenced by detour length in the Australian meat ants', Insectes Sociaux, vol.66, no.1, pp 47-56

Makinson JC, Woodgate JL, Reynolds A, Capaldi EA, Perry CL, Chittka L, (2019) 'Harmonic radar tracking reveals random dispersal pattern of bumblebee (Bombus terrestris) queens after hibernation', Scientific Reports, vol. 9, Article no. 4651

Latty T, Holmes MJ, Makinson JC, Beekman M, (2017) 'Argentine ants (Linepithema humile) use adaptable transportation networks to track changes in resource quality', Journal of Experimental Biology, vol.220, no.4, pp 686-694

Makinson JC, Schaerf TM, Wagner N, Oldroyd BP, Beekman M, (2017) 'Collective decision making in the red dwarf honeybee Apis florea: do the bees simply follow the flowers?' Insectes Sociaux, vol.64, no4, pp 557-566

Makinson JC, Threlfall CG, Latty T, (2017) 'Bee-friendly community gardens: Impact of environmental variables on the richness and abundance of exotic and native bees', Urban Ecosystems, vol.20, no.2, pp 463-476

Woodgate JL, Makinson JC, Lim KS, Reynolds AM, Chittka L, (2017) 'Continuous radar tracking illustrates the development of multi-destination routes of bumblebees', Scientific reports, vol.7, no.1, Article no.17323

Makinson JC, Schaerf TM, Rattanawannee A, Oldroyd BP, Beekman M, (2016) 'How does a swarm of the giant Asian honeybee Apis dorsata reach consensus? A study of the individual behaviour of scout bees', Insectes Sociaux, vol.63, no.3, pp 395-406

Woodgate JL, Makinson JC, Lim KS, Reynolds AM, Chittka L, (2016) 'Life-long radar tracking of bumblebees',  PLoS One, vol.11, no.8, Article e0160333

Beekman M, Makinson JC, Couvillon MJ, Preece K, Schaerf TM, (2015) ,  Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution, vol.3, no.11

Makinson JC, 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, Article no.103283

Makinson JC, Schaerf TM, Rattanawannee A, Oldroyd BP, Beekman M, (2014) 'Consensus building in giant Asian honey bee (Apis dorsata) swarms on the move', Animal Behaviour, vol.93, pp 191-199

Schaerf TM, Makinson JC, Myerscough MR, 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, vol.10, no.87, Article no.20130533

Makinson JC, Oldroyd BP, Schaerf TM, Wattanachaiyingcharoen W, Beekman M, (2011) 'Moving home: nest-site selection in the Red Dwarf honeybee (Apis florea)', Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, vol.65, pp 945-958

Schaerf TM, Myerscough MR, Makinson JC, Beekman M, (2011) 'Inaccurate and unverified information in decision making: a model for the nest site selection process of Apis florea',  Animal Behaviour, vol.82, no.5, pp 995-1013

Chapman NC, Makinson J, Beekman M, Oldroyd BP, (2009) 'Honeybee, Apis mellifera, guards use adaptive acceptance thresholds to limit worker reproductive parasitism', Animal Behaviour, vol.78, pp 1205-1211