Brandon is an Assistant Research Professor at Washington State University in the Department of Entomology. Initially working on the development of cryopreservation of honey bee germplasm for breeding and conservation, work that enabled the establishment of the world’s first honey bee germplasm repository at WSU and inclusion of honey bee semen in the USDA National Animal Germplasm Program. His research efforts have been focused on developing practical solutions for the beekeeping industry ranging from bee breeding to varroa control.
Albert operates a family farm, Meadow Ridge Enterprises LTD, east of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan. The farm is involved in honey production, cereal grain, pulses, oilseed and seed potato production (3300 acres). They have about 150 purebred Black Angus cows from which they raise bulls and replacement heifers using fix timed A.I.. He started keeping honey bees in 1975 and honey bee breeding in 1992. He currently operates approximately 1400 colonies for honey production, raises 600 to 700 nucs as well as about 2000 Saskatraz queens for sale each year. Albert set up the Saskatraz project in 2005 in collaboration with Saskatchewan and Manitoba beekeepers. He has also been employed at the University of Saskatchewan for 30 years doing research in molecular genetics and molecular biology. He obtained an M.Sc. at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon in 1976 and Ph.D. in 1982 from the University of Saskatchewan and University of Alberta. Albert has published over 100 scientific articles and is the inventor of several patents. He has also supervised and supported a number of graduate students.
I became interested in bee biology after keeping bees for a few years. I read a lot of books and scientific articles on bees and learned to work with bees by experience. Honey bee colonies were my mentors. Our Saskatraz breeding program has been supported by stock sales but I have collaborated with U. of S. researchers to perform molecular work on honey bees since about 2007. We have worked in departments with the necessary equipment and technical expertise, including interested students, to carry out gene expression and toxicology work. Details of these collaborations and resulting scientific publications can be found on our website at www.saskatraz.com.
For the last 10 years, Miriam has worked on large scale bee projects with Dr. Foster’s honey bee research team out of UBC. Miriam has focused her research on the social and economic aspects of bringing effective and accessible new integrated pest management tools to the industry through a series of industry surveys and focus groups across the country. Miriam and her colleagues developed the Canadian Queen Bee breeding Reference Guide that is available on the CAPA and CHC websites for beekeepers and breeders. Today Miriam is going to talk about the breeding guide and also share some of her recent findings from a study in collaboration with Dr. Marta Guarna from AAFC and others looking at the costs of queen production in Canada and hopes to engage many of you in conversations about your experiences and insights with bee breeding in British Columbia. Miriam is also looking to engage some interested beekeepers in in-depth interviews over the next few months about colony health management and treatment for a new bee project. If you are interested in participating please find Miriam after her talk.
Dr. Leonard Foster is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of British Columbia (UBC). Dr. Foster comes from a family of beekeepers and got his introduction to academic bee research at Simon Fraser University while doing his Bachelor’s degree in biochemistry – at SFU he worked with Drs. Winston and Slessor on honey bee pheromones, particularly the components of queen mandibular pheromone. He then did a Ph.D in Toronto a post-doctoral studies in Denmark before starting his current position in 2005. The first independent operating grant that Dr. Foster secured was to study how bee pathogens were able to manipulate the protein machinery within bee cells. Since that time he has led two very large-scale projects that have investigated some of the molecular mechanisms behind disease resistance in bees. This effort has recently moved into trying to apply this knowledge by using the information they have learned to guide selective breeding for hygienic behavior in honey bees. He is very active in extension and frequently engages the public on various aspects of honey bee biology.
Heather began working with honey bees in 1987 at Simon Fraser University (SFU) in British Columbia, Canada and completed a Master’s degree in bee research under Mark Winston. On completion she took on the position of SFU bee research coordinator, managing the university’s honey bee colonies and bee research lab, and mentoring students until the lab closed. In 2007, Heather began running a small queen rearing operation in Langley, British Columbia, Canada and continued in the bee community giving talks and teaching queen rearing and IPM workshops in the Fraser Valley while also working in Plant Health for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). In 2011, CFIA assigned her to work on the Bee IPM Project with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Agriculture Canada to improve honey bee mite and disease resistance through breeding and testing. After a short time back at CFIA, in 2015 Heather returned to bee research with UBC as the BC Field Manager for the Marker Selection and Beeomics projects, where she led a team sampling and testing colonies throughout BC as part of a five-province effort to develop new technological tools to enhance our breeding selection capabilities and improve the bee industry. In 2017 she was awarded the prestigious Fred Rathje Award by the Canadian Honey Council for her years of service to Canadian beekeepers. Heather is currently working for UBC on queen selection tools and other research projects in addition to managing her own queen rearing operation.
Joe was born in 1940 and raised in the Codroy Valley, 30 miles inland from Port Aux Basque, NFL, and is the eldest of 13. He joined the Air Force in 1961 and was transferred out West in 1963 to Puntzi Mountain 120 miles inland towards the coast from Williams Lake. Met and married Marg in 1966 and got a job at Highland Valley Copper where he worked as an electrician for 32 years. He has been retired from the mine for 20 years now.
After asking a fellow electrician a million questions about bees, he decided to buy a couple of packages from Campbell Jones. We had them set up in our back yard in Ashcroft. Someone sprayed their garden and a month later one hive died. The other one died over the winter. So we bought more packages in the spring, 60 hives from Bill McCormack and 150 from Bob Meredith in the years following. We got up to 499 hives but lost 70% when the mites arrived. The city lot in Ashcroft wasn’t big enough for storage and extracting in a school bus attracted many bees from the surrounding area. Good thing our neighbors liked honey. Consequently, we moved out of town to the Walhachin area where we have been ever since.
We became involved with the Kamloops Beekeepers Club and have attended many conventions of the BCHPA, Alberta Beekeepers, Saskatchewan Beekeepers, American Beekeepers Federation and also a few WAS ones. You always learn something new and meet new beekeepers.
Joe enjoys helping new beekeepers and older ones if they have problems. It is an interesting hobby and gives him something to do in his retirement.
James has been keeping bees for the past 41 years and currently operates Armstrong Apiaries Honey Company in Armstrong, BC. His early experience working on commercial honey operations taught him how not to keep bees. In Saskatchewan in the 1970s, the standard for producing honey commercially was to import packages of honeybees in April and then dispatch the full colonies with a puff of cyanide in September. Thankfully, times have changed! In the 1980s, James became part of a team that implemented the Honeybee Stock Improvement Project in Vernon, BC. Local BC Queens were a result of this landmark breeding program, and they are now raised by a number of queen producers throughout the province. Working in Africa and Asia over the past 30 years has also provided James with a wide range of beekeeping experience with a number of species of honey-producing bees. James is a passionate life-long learner, and he will share about his honey and bee-breeding operation in the Okanagan.