Saturday, November 16, 2013

Canadian Honeybee Genomic Project

The Canadian Honey Council has funded a genomic study of the honeybee which will be conducted by York University.
Dr. Amro Zayed, PhD; Department of Biology, York University, and his students are conducting a study of the genetics of Canadian Honeybees.
They hope to collect one thousand worker bee specimens from across Canada and analyze the data the data in regards to genetic diversity and ancestry. The study  will be submitted to a peer reviewed journal, and the results posted to the Honey Council's website. - See more at:
Earlier in the year an invitation was emailed to beekeepers across Canada asking them if they'd be interested in participating in the survey.
They'd be required to submit dead bees to York University.
So since all I had to do was submit dead bees, I signed up to participate in the survey.
A few weeks later a padded envelope arrived.  Inside were plastic test tubes filled with small glass vials.
Inside the vials was alcohol.
At that moment I was starting to feel like I might have made a mistake about the 'just collect dead bees' part.
On reading the instructions it turned out that I would be required to insert live bees into the alcohol.
I just don't like killing bees.  I counted the containers.  I'd have to collect 24 bees to fill the vials.  And it was for science.
So I picked up live bees and carefully stuck them into the vials, all the while apologizing and thanking them for their contribution to science.
On the accompanying form I wrote what breed of queens I had in the hives where I collected the bees from.
The challenge this year was that my bees were all requeening constantly all summer.  So they may have started off the season with a particular queen but by the end of the season they all had another queen entirely.
My bees are primarily Buckfast bees but of course my queens mate with any available drones and I have no control over their selection.  Ontario is well known for working mostly with Buckfast bees (a strain of bees developed by Brother Adam in England - more info on him in a future blog).
I mailed off my samples in October 2013.  It'll probably bee a while until the results are released but I'll publish the info on this blog once I get it.

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