Beekeeping in the 21st Century: Role of Genomics?

What's the role of genomics in 21st Century beekeeping?

The next UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar will focus on just that.

Brock Harpur, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Purdue University, will speak on "Beekeeping in the 21st Century: Can We Incorporate Genomics into Beekeeping?" at 4:10 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 6 in 122 Briggs Hall.

Host is Santiago Ramirez, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, College of Biological Sciences.

"Humans and honey bees (Apis mellifera) have a long history of interaction one that today has culminated in the multibillion dollar beekeeping industry," Harpur says in this abstract. "Our history with honey bees is signposted by innovation driven by beekeepers. Innovations such as moveable frames and instrumental insemination have transformed how beekeepers manage their colonies. The modern beekeeper is likely to find that the innovations of today will become industry-standard in the not-so-distant future."

In his seminar Harpur will demonstrate "how the study and application of genomics provide new tools to understand honey bees and new means to manage and conserve them. I will present two direct uses of genomic information in modern apiculture: stock identification and genetic association. First I will demonstrate that genomic information can be used to quantify the ancestry of honey bee populations around the world. I will demonstrate how genomic information can be used to robustly discriminate among genotypes and how this can be incorporated into management practices. Second, I demonstrate how genomic approaches can identify loci associated with industry-relevant traits and how these associations can be used in an industry context. These discoveries represent the first steps that the beekeeping industry has taken into the modern age of genomics."

Harpur joined Purdue University faculty in January 2019 after completing a National Science and Engineering Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow at the Donnelley Centre, University of Toronto. He focuses his research on the evolution and genetics of honey bees.

"Brock has always been interested in insects and genetics, but after his first foray into beekeeping, he was hooked (stung, if you will)," according to the Purdue News Service. "Brock completed his Ph.D. on population genomics of honey bees at York University. He has established beekeeping programs in Northern Canada, worked with the City of Toronto to establish goals for pollinator health, and given public talks to dozens of local organizations. Brock was awarded the prestigious Julie Payette Research Scholarship from the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, an Ontario Graduate Scholarship, the Entomological Society of Canada's President's Prize, and was an Elia Research Scholar during his time at York University. Brock and his wife Katey are new to the United States from Canada."