Queen failure: Two Years of Surveying BC Queens and Potential Causal Factors
Dr. McAfee is a Postdoctoral Fellow ~ Michael Smith Laboratories ~ North Carolina State University. She studies honey bee reproductive health, focusing on factors affecting sperm viability. Honey bee queens mate several times early in life, then maintain the sperm for years in a specialized storage organ until they die. Colony health directly depends on the queen’s ability to keep these sperm alive so that she can lay an abundance of fertilized eggs and keep the colony strong. However, environmental factors like heat-shock, cold-shock, and pesticide exposure can dramatically reduce sperm viability. With extreme weather patterns on the rise and persistent pesticide residues in the environment, these are major threats to honey bee colony health. Alison’s research will help us better understand the biological process underlying sperm viability and contribute to best-practice recommendations to limit adverse exposure of the queens. Alison completed her Ph.D. in Genome Science and Technology at the University of British Columbia, where she studied molecular mechanisms of hygienic behavior. Alison writes a monthly column for the American Bee Journal magazine and her research has been reported in New Scientist and Scientific American. She also enjoys steep hikes up snowy mountains, catching huge, ugly fish, and breaking speed limits on her bicycle.
Stan is the owner of Flying Dutchman Bees in Nanaimo, BC, a larger commercial operation supplying bee stock to Western Canada. Stan is a past president of the BCHPA and currently the Canadian Honey Council Representative on the current executive. Stan has many years of experience with both breeding and importing queens and bee stock into Canada.
Carolyn spent 10 years as a Commercial Pilot, including 4 years in Northern Canada as a bush pilot, before partnering with an Organic Farm in South Surrey and starting a seasonal CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Through farming, she discovered pollinators and fell in love with honeybees. She took her first beekeeping course in 2015 and has since graduated from the KPU Commercial Beekeeping Program, worked under 4 commercial beekeepers, started 2 businesses, and completed her Beemasters at UBC. Carolyn was the Chief Beekeeper for KPUs 400 colony operation for 3 years before launching into The Honest to Goodness Farm Company full time, a 150 colony operation that specializes in Queen Rearing. Her profits from this work are re-invested into pollinator conservation, winning her business the Langley Environmental Hero award in 2019. Carolyn also offers mentorship to hobby beekeepers and is the VP of the Langley Bee Club. In 2019, Carolyn co-founded Corbicula Pollen Ltd., a company that specializes in bee pollen production and processing. Carolyn has a passion for spreadsheets, food and the outdoors. She spends her very rare days off hiking and snowshoeing through Western Canada.
Dr. Dewey M. Caron is Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware, & Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. I had professional appointments at Cornell (1968-70), Univ of Maryland (1970-81), and U Delaware 1981-2009, serving as entomology chair at the last 2. I retired from Univ of Delaware in 2009 and moved to Portland, OR to be closer to my grandkids. I organized a WAS annual meeting and served as President of WAS in Salem OR in 2010 following the 2009 Victoria meeting. Currently am member-at-large to WAS Board. I represent WAS on Honey Bee Health Coalition and am the principal author of HBHC Tools for Varroa Management and B MPs. In retirement I remain active in bee education, writing for newsletters, giving Bee Short Courses, assisting in several Master beekeeper programs, and giving presentations to local, state, and regional bee clubs. I am the author of Honey Bee Biology & Beekeeping, a major textbook used in University and Association bee courses, and have a new bee book (my 10th) The Complete Bee Handbook published by Rockridge Press. I have conducted a Pacific NorthWest annual loss and management survey www.pnwhoneybeesurvey.com for the past 10 years and a Pollination economics survey for the last 8.
Despicable Mites: Recent Findings in the Study of Tropilaelaps mercedesae and Varroa destructor
Samuel Ramsey’s enduring interest in insect biology started 23 years ago and shows no signs of waning. Having earned his doctorate from Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s lab at the University of Maryland; Dr. Ramsey maintains a focus on how insect research can benefit the public through the development of IPM strategies and STEM-based outreach initiatives. His award-winning research on Varroa biology has changed the standing paradigm on how this parasite ultimately kills honey bees leading to opportunities to share his work nationally and internationally. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Entomology from Cornell University in 2011 focusing his research on predator/parasite behavior. His current work, aptly named the Fight the Mite Initiative, was funded largely by the beekeeping community. It focuses on the poorly understood Tropilaelaps mite which is rapidly establishing itself as the next threat to apiculture globally. Prior to the pandemic, he was based in Thailand documenting the behavior, lifecycle, and vulnerabilities of this parasite, ensuring that in the event of its arrival in the US, we’ll have the knowledge and resources to respond effectively.
Ellen became interested in honey bees while studying plant genetics and breeding at the University of Minnesota. She then studied honey bee nutrition as part of her MS at Oregon State University. After graduating, she worked with commercial beekeepers in the Northwest as part of the Bee Informed Partnership’s Tech Transfer Team mastering on-the-ground testing, secret-keeping, and applicable research. She currently works as a research assistant in the OSU Honey Bee Lab.
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 and 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 three 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. He currently lives in Richmond and keeps bees himself.
Executive Director and Co-founder at Hives for Humanity Society
I am passionate about fostering vibrant and healthy community through empowerment and experiential education. I believe in the profound impact of connecting individuals and communities to their land, food and spirit.
I seek to engage through collaboration and courageous/vulnerable conversation, to foster inclusive spaces of meaningful opportunity.
My ancestry is to Ireland and Germany, and as I have been learning about the hills and waters my grandparents walked, I have been deepening my understanding of how I walk, how I move, with and on these stolen lands of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsliel-Waututh Nations, and in my community engaged work in the Downtown Eastside. As a person of settler descent how do I acknowledge and seek to dismantle the systems that have privileged me and excluded others, done and continue to do violence? How do I learn from the honey bees, also guests here, to share my unique gifts, while honouring all the ways of knowing and being that exist here? How do I move into reciprocal relationships of respect and love, through gathering and care in community, towards Land Back?
Ask me about the Hastings Folk Garden! Ask me about Community Engaged Governance! Ask me about how we might learn from the bees to communicate, include and thrive!
Kate Mizenka is the founder of Elk Root Conservation Farm Society. She is an avid bee conservationist, expert beekeeper and knowledge sharer. Kate is the innovator behind Elk Root Conservation’s Sustainable Apiary Model and designer of Elk Root Conservation’s Educational Demonstration Gardens. Elk Root Conservation is located adjacent to the ancestral Sinixt village site of n’kʔáwxtən, in Sinixt təmxʷúlaʔxʷ and within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) at the confluence of the Slocan River and Little Slocan River in Vallican, the Slocan Valley, British Columbia. Our vision is a thriving fish, wildlife and human population in the Slocan Valley and Little Slocan River watershed that is functioning and sustainable.
Our not-for-profit mission is to protect, restore and enhance fish and wildlife habitat by example through boots-on-the-ground habitat conservation projects and by offering inclusionary and inspiring learning opportunities through research, innovation, and hands-on education at Elk Root Conservation’s Educational Demonstration Gardens. Our educational workshops focus on ecological stewardship, wildlife conservation & habitat restoration, honey bee wellness & wild pollinator gardens, sustainability, regenerative ‘beyond’ organic gardening, biodiverse farming practices and local food security.
In addition to the cultural significance of our location to the Sinixt peoples, the reach of the confluence is a unique and ecologically important wildlife corridor. It is the perfect place to demonstrate how protecting the planet and our local food security go hand-in-hand. Not only for ourselves, but for our children and future generations to come.
Dr. Andony Melathopoulos is an Assistant Professor in Pollinator Health Extension in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University, which was the first such position in the US. He also sits on the Steering Committee of the Oregon Bee Project, which coordinates pollinator health work across state agencies and hosts a weekly podcast called PolliNation. In 2018, Andony was recognized with the National Pollinator Advocate Award by the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign.
Talk title: The (considerable) challenge of building bee pasture in the Pacific Northwest
Description: The erosion of the area planted to honey bee forages has significant impacts not only to honey yields, but also to the health of honey bee colony stocks. While there have been a number of efforts to increase forage area by federal, private and local regional initiatives, the bulk of investments have been made in the Northern Great Plains or California. Oregon, Washington and BC in contrast, lag behind. This presentation outlines some of the specific needs for forage in the Pacific Northwest region and some of the key challenges facing the expansion of area planted to forages. It will also outline some of the low-hanging fruit for getting honey bee forage projects off the ground in the region.
Lincoln Best is Oregon State University’s native bee taxonomist and leads the efforts of the Oregon Bee Atlas. He is obsessed with natural history, the little things, and designing plant communities to support biodiversity. He has studied the biodiversity of native bees from Haida Gwaii to Tasmania, and from Baja California to Taiwan. Few things excite him more than observing 4mm native bees on their floral hosts in arid habitats.
Topic: The Pacific Northwest has a rich diversity of native bees.
Description: The Pacific Northwest has a rich diversity of native bees. Lincoln Best will describe some of the strange and weird bees that call the region home and the journey of discovery by Oregon’s volunteer Master Melittologists and BC’s Bee Trackers to document them all.
Dr. Kelly Kulhanek, Postdoctoral Researcher, Hopkins Lab, Washington State University
Kelly is a postdoctoral researcher in the WSU Bee Program. She came to WSU after completing her doctorate studying honey bee health and management practices lab at the University of Maryland. At WSU, she works on commercial beekeeping practices including indoor storage of colonies and improving Varroa management.
Title: Future Applications of Indoor Storage: Queen Banking and Other Possibilities
Kelly’s talk will feature results from WSU’s work on the indoor storage of colonies. Beekeepers typically use indoor storage to reduce labor and materials inputs into colonies overwinter. The WSU Bee Program is looking into other potential uses for indoor storage. Kelly will share recent results on projects investigating indoor queen banking and Varroa management.
Dr. Nuria Morfin, lead of the newly formed Technology Transfer Program – BCHPA, has been working with honey bees since 2006 as a beekeeper, instructor, and researcher. Nuria got her Ph.D. from the University of Guelph in 2018 studying the effect of stressors on honey bee health and behaviour. She worked as a researcher at the Honey Bee Research Centre – University of Guelph and as a Bee Inspector for the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs prior to this position. She actively collaborates with Beekeepers’ Associations to research and educate on Integrated Pest Management strategies, working towards a healthy and more productive beekeeping industry. Her experience also includes working with Africanized bees and stingless bees. Bees are her passion!
Talk: Breeding for Varroa resistant bees: an IPM approach to control mites.
Description: Selecting for Varroa resistant bees is an essential component of an IPM strategy. This project used worker bees selected for high and low Varroa population growth to investigate the mechanisms that regulate self-grooming behaviour using RNA-sequencing. This research is a collaboration between the Honey Bee Research Centre – the University of Guelph and Purdue University and funded by Project Apis m.
Dr. Marta Guarna, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.
Dr. Guarna is a Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia. Her collaborative research focuses on honey bee queens, emerging bee pathogens, and on bee health and pollination. Prior to joining AAFC, she was Scientific Director of the BeeIPM project at UBC, where she was integral in leading initiatives on honey bee breeding and proteomics. She had previously worked extensively in the biopharmaceutical field. Dr. Guarna is originally from Argentina and completed her doctoral studies at New York University.
Dr. Marla Spivak is a MacArthur Fellow and Distinguished McKnight University Professor in Entomology in the College of Food, Agricultural and and Natural Resource Sciences at the University of Minnesota. She also leads the Spivak Honey Bee Lab.
Spivak’s current research includes studies of the benefits of propolis (tree resins) to the health and immune system of honey bees; the identification and biological activity of honey bee collected resins; the development of “bee lawns”—pollinator habitat in urban landscapes; the use of native forbs by honey bees through identification of collected pollen and decoding bees’ dance language; the health of commercial honey bee colonies and the evaluation of queens’ breeders efforts to select stocks for resistance to diseases and mite pests; novel methods to control Varroa mites in honey bee colonies; and surveys of native bees in Minnesota.