ClosedAgriculture & Agri-food

Sustaining and securing Canada’s honey bees using ‘omic tools

PROJECT LEAD(S)/CO-LEAD(S) Leonard Foster (University of British Columbia) & Amro Zayed (York University)
COMPETITION/ FUNDING OPPORTUNITY Genome Canada - 2014 Large Scale Applied Research Project Competition
PROJECT START DATE October 1, 2015
PROJECT END DATE September 30, 2019
ALBERTA’S ROLE Participant

The health of honey bees has been declining over the past decade, with Canadian beekeepers losing more than a quarter of their colonies each winter since 2006-07. The high colony losses, coupled with the possible loss of access to replacement sources, pose a serious threat to the productivity of major Canadian agri-food industries and jeopardize our food security. Left unchecked, the production and accessibility of fruits, nuts and vegetables will decline. This team of researchers seeks to improve the health of Canadian honey bees by developing new genomic and proteomic tools that will enable beekeepers to rapidly and cost-effectively breed healthy, disease-resistant, productive bee colonies that are better able to survive our harsh Canadian winters. The availability of high-quality, locally bred honey bees should reduce Canada’s dependence on bee importation. In addition, the team will increase the safety of bee importations by developing an accurate and cost effective assay to detect bees with deleterious genetics. The innovative efforts of this project will help guard the safety and sustainability of the beekeeping industry, ensuring our food security and supporting more than $4 billion in value to the Canadian economy.

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