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What’s the buzz in bee biology? Eminent bee researcher explains the role of genomics in bee health

Since 2006, North America has lost nearly one third of its honeybee population due to infectious diseases and climate change. As honeybees are one of the most important pollinators in Canadian agriculture, countless crops across the country—including blueberries in British Columbia and canola in Alberta—are at risk.

“Bees’ importance to us goes far beyond honey,” says Dr. Leonard Foster, a molecular biologist and associate professor at the University of British Columbia. “Without them we’ll depend more on imports and have to pay more for our fruits and vegetables.”

Dr. Foster discusses the importance of bees to our ecosystem in “What’s the Buzz in Bee Biology?” on Wednesday, March 4th at 5:30 p.m. at the College of the Rockies as part of Genome BC’s community outreach program, Bringing Genomics Home. This is the fifth year in a row that the program has been to Cranbrook.

During this free event Dr. Foster will talk about some of the most interesting aspects of bee biology, what threats bees are currently facing and how his research is trying to improve bee health.

In addition to his work at UBC, Dr. Foster is also the Director of the Centre for High-Throughput Biology, which has been leading an effort in western Canada to breed bees that are better able to resist diseases. 

One of these efforts is Bee Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a project he works on with a group comprised of scientists, bee breeders, and researchers from across Canada. The IPM’s research addresses the fact that many bacteria, viruses, fungus and mites responsible for bee-specific infectious diseases are becoming resistant to pesticides, which means science needs to find new approaches to protect bee populations.

“Dr. Foster is tackling this sticky problem with new and innovative solutions,” says Dr. Alan Winter, President & CEO of Genome BC. “I think the people of Cranbrook will find Dr. Foster’s expertise and unique research approach fascinating.”

This free public talk begins at 5:30pm on Wednesday, March 4th at College of the Rockies’ Cranbrook Main Campus Lecture Theatre, Room 250. For more information and to register for this free event please visit: www.genomebc.ca/cranbrook.

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About Genome British Columbia:

Genome British Columbia is a catalyst for the life sciences cluster on Canada’s West Coast and manages a cumulative portfolio of over $660M in research projects and science and technology platforms. Working with governments, academia and industry across sectors such as forestry, fisheries, agriculture, environment, bioenergy, mining and human health, the goal of the organization is to generate social and economic benefits for British Columbia and Canada.

In addition to research, Genome BC is committed to public outreach and educational leadership, and as such, seeks to foster understanding and appreciation of the significance of genomics science and technology among teachers, students and the general public. www.genomebc.ca

For more information contact:

Jennifer Boon
Communications Manager, Sectors
Genome BC
Phone: 778-327-8374
E-mail: jboon@genomebc.ca