UBC biologist is saving the eco-system one bee at a time

Since 2006, North America has lost nearly one third of its bee population due to infLeonard Foster_cropectious diseases and climate change. As honeybees are one of the most important pollinators in Canadian agriculture, without bees 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.

“They pollinate a huge variety of crops for us and without them we’ll depend more on imports and have to pay more for our fruits and vegetables,” he says.

Dr. Foster discusses the importance of bees to our eco-system in “What’s the buzz in bee biology?” on Tuesday , April 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus main lecture theatre. The event is sponsored by Genome BC and admission is free. Register online to guarantee a seat at www.genomebc.ca/okanagan.

Specifically, 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 develop bees that are better able to resist diseases.

One of these efforts is the Bee Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a project he works on with a group comprised of scientists, bee breeders, and teams of people passionate about the research from across Canada. The IPM’s research addresses the fact that a lot of bacteria, viruses, fungus and mites responsible for bee-specific infectious diseases are becoming resistant to pesticides, so other approaches to protect bee populations are necessary.

This talk is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series, a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College and is sponsored by the Pacific Inn and Suites, Cooper’s Foods, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

To subscribe to or obtain more information about the series, visit www.okscience.ca or https://okanagansisss.wordpress.com.

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