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Honey Bees as Pollinators

Using genomics and proteomics, our research enables beekeepers to rapidly and cost-effectively breed healthy, disease-resistant, and productive bee colonies that can survive the winter more successfully.

Breeding high-quality, local honey bees will also reduce Canada's dependence on imported queens that are not adapted to our climate. In addition, we are developing molecular diagnostic tools to assess the health of bees similarly to how diseases in humans or vertebrate livestock are diagnosed by clinical tests. By assessing stress indicators that extend beyond honey bees, our research will have important implcations for the health and biodiversity of all pollinators, including native pollinators (e.g., bumblebees, wasps, beetles, butterflies, hummingbirds). 

Research questions include:

  • Our research has shown that genetic-marker-assisted selection can work in bees (Harpur et al., 2019). Can we now identify markers for disease-resistance, honey production, bee aggression, and other traits?
  • How does pollinator physiology (e.g., gut microbiome) respond to different stressors?
  • How encourage beekeepers to disperse valuable honey bee traits/genetic stocks?