Anatomy of a pollinator garden

By , March 9, 2015

Some of you know that i love bees. I also generally dislike grass. I don’t like mowing it. I don’t like watering it. I don’t find manicured fields of green grass beautiful.

So, when the snow thawed off the ground – in that first spring in our new home in Woodbridge Ontario in 2010 – my wife and i did something fun… we put a layer of newspaper on our front lawn (neighbours thought we were crazy), put about 2 inches of soil on top of the news paper, and planted several species of hardy native perennials that are attractive to bees, butterflies and birds. I had a lot of help, former postdoc and master gardner Clement Kent provided me with most of the plants (from his garden) and good instructions about how to keep my plants happy.

I was doing a google search on our home and was pleased to see that google maps snapped a nice picture of our pollinator garden in mid bloom last summer. Here is the full list of plants in my garden… in case you want to build your own.

Amro

I spy with my little eye, something that is full of bees

I spy with my little eye, something that is full of bees

Garden with 30+ species of plants, mostly native

Garden with 30+ species of plants, mostly native. See Plant list below… I used pea gravel and some slate stones on the edges.

Plant List
Some of the plants below are not native, but look pretty and still attract pollinators. Some I removed from the garden bed for some reason or another.

1. Violets
2. Amsonia tabernaemontana [blue star]
3. Rudbeckia hirta – Black-eyed Susan
4. Rudbeckia laciniata – Cutleaf Coneflower
5. Wild strawberries (spc ?)
6. Filipendula rubra – Queen of the Prairie
7. Physostegia virginiana [obedient plant]
8. Monarda (bee balm) (purple; red = M. didyma – jacob cline; c = fistulosa blue)
9. Iris versicolor – Northern Blue Flag
10. Veronica longifolia – white speedwell
11. Sanguisorba canadensis – Canadian burnet
12. Baptisia australis – Blue false indigo
13. Penstemon hirsutus – hairy beardtongue
14. Gaillardia aristata – blanketflower
15. Asclepias incarnata – Swamp Milkweed
16. Agastache foeniculum – Golden Anise Hyssop
17. Liatris spicata – gayfeather
18. Helenium hoopesii – orange helenium
19. Echinacea purpurea (2 from C. Kent; 1 bright star, 1 Magnus); purple coneflower
20. Liatris ligulistylis – Meadow Blazingstar
21. Echinacea purpurea ‘baby white swan’
22. Veronica spicata (speedwell – sunny border blue)
23. Creeping thyme (mother of thyme)
24. Sage (spc ?)
25. Tiarella cordifolia – heartleaved foamflower
26. Phlox stolonifera blue ridge – Phlox
27. Oenothera tetragona – sundrops
28. Phlox subulata Emerald blue creeping Phlox
28b. Phlox subulata Emerald pink creeping Phlox
29. Coreopsis verticillata – threadleaf coreopsis golden showers
30. Viola labradorica – Labrador Violet
TT. Tarda Tulips
BR. Sanguinaria canadensis – bloodroot
31. Aster novae-angliae -New England Aster
32. Erigeron speciosus – Showy Fleabane
33. Eupatorium purpureum – Sweet Joe-Pye weed
34. Heliopsis helianthoides
35. Phlox paniculata a.David b. Nicky c. purple flame – Summer Phlox
36. French Lavender (spc. ?)
36a. Pincushion flower Scabiosa pink mist
37. Wolly thyme jeepers creepers thymus pseudolanuginousus
38. Lamium maculatum “white nancy”
39. Hen and chicks Crassulaceae

Upcoming Seminars: Back to Cali & Treehouse!

By , February 3, 2015

Hi Folks,

two seminar next week, in California and Toronto,

1st: I am giving a seminar on bee genomics at the UC Davis’ Department of Entomology and Nematology , Feb 11.

2nd: I am giving a public talk on bees, as part of the Treehouse talks, Friday Feb 13th, 6:30 pm at the Toronto Reference Library.  Title is: Bees are the bee’s knees! [dancing is not optional]

Drop by and say hi!

Amro

The great canadian genome survey hits the road!

By , January 29, 2015

In Moncton New Brunswick! Drop by and see my talk on the great canadian genome survey at the Canadian Honey Council and Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Research Symposium tomorrow.

Amro, 5'9", Moncton NB Snow Bank 5' 8"

Amro, 5’9″, Moncton NB Snow Bank 5′ 8″

Daria defends her MSc

By , January 29, 2015

Congrats to Daria Molodtsova for successfully defending her MSc thesis on the evolution of regulatory networks that influence honey bee worker behaviour. Daria started her MSc on September 2013. She co-authored the lab’s population genomics study on honey bees in PNAS, and she recently published her MSc thesis in Frontiers in Genetics. Daria is heading back to her motherland (Russia) to purse a career in biotech.

Well done Daria and congrats one the hard-earned MSc!

Upcoming Zayedlab talks in Portland, Markham and Montreal

By , November 15, 2014

A few upcoming talks… come by and say Hi!

November 18th 2o14
Entomological Society of America, Portland, USA  Symposium on: Genetic and Behavioral Mechanisms of Social Complexity: Current Challenges and Future Horizons by Drs  Rehan and Hunt
11 am – Evolution of regulatory networks influencing social behaviour in honey bee workers
Amro Zayed

Nov. 20th, 2014
Ontario Beekeepers Association’s 2014 annual meeting – Markham, Ontario
2:30 pm – Next generation tools for diagnosing & reversing declining bee health
Amro Zayed

Dec. 4th 2014
Rendez-vous Génome Québec, Montreal: The Future of “omics’ Applications
time: TBD , Next generation tools for diagnosing & reversing declining bee health
Amro Zayed

A night full of awards

By , November 15, 2014

Thursday November 13th 2014 was a very memorable day for me

It started on a great note with Nadia successfully defending her MSc thesis and graduating with ‘distinction’. We had a fun little celebration with some honey-inspired treats (including my new favourite… honey goat cheese!). The  lab then took-off to sing the night away at a nearby Karaoke bar (….and yes the rumours are true… i sang Madonna, Toni Braxton and Tracey Chapmen … we all have an #InnerDiva).

I then left the karaoke session early to attend the Faculty of Science‘s 2014 Award Ceremony. The night honours profs, graduate and undergraduate students in the faculty.

I received the Faculty of Science’s Early Career Research Award - a great honour considering the number of super-talented researchers the Faculty boasts. More touching however was the large number of awards that Zayedlab members received – 10

Here they are (in order of announcement)

Brock Harpur (PhD candidate) – Elia Scholarship (Jan – Aug 2014)
Brock Harpur (PhD candidate) – NSERC Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship  (Sept 2014)
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) – York U President Honour roll
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) - NSERC Undergrad summer research scholarship
Vijay Sandhu (Undergraduate) - NSERC Undergrad summer research scholarship
Harshil Patel (Undergraduate) – Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship
Lior Krimus (Undergraduate) – Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Harshil Patel (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Vijay Sandhu (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll
Keshna Sood (Undergraduate) - Dean of  Science’s Honour Roll

Lior has been working with us since last year on the Great Canadian Honey Bee Genome Survey. He and Vijay teamed up with Brock and Samir (visiting PhD fellow from Brazil) to study the genetics of several honey bee traits this year.  Harshil and Keshna are part of a massive study on the affects of agrochemicals on bee health this summer, a study led by now PhD candidate Nadia Tsvetkov.

I was truly honoured. It is one thing to write papers and get grants – but to see the team get some much accolades was both fantastic and humbling… It is truly a pleasure to get to interact with so many talented and enthusiastic students every day.

To members and almuni of the Zayedlab – thank you!

Amro

The summer 2014 field team: Phil, Harshil, Keshna, Vijay, Lior [L->R]

The summer 2014 field team: Phil, Harshil, Keshna, Vijay, Lior [L->R]

A master of distinction!

By , November 15, 2014

Congratulation to Nadia Tsvetkov for successfully defending her MSc thesis on learning and memory in honey bees. Nadia’s wrote a very nice review on the genetic of learning and memory in honey bees and conducted a very neat study on how social interaction influence learning and memory. She also led the development of a very neat assay to measure spatial memory in honey bees.

Her MSc degree was awarded with distinction (Top 5%).

Nadia has decided to stick around and do her PhD in the Zayedlab… She is currently leading a large scale study on how agrochemicals affect brain gene expression and behaviour of honey bees in Canada.

Congrats Nadia!

Nadia Tsvetkov, MSc

Nadia Tsvetkov, MSc

Samir and his Africanized ‘killer’ bees

By , September 8, 2014

Happy to welcome Samir Moura Kadri, a visiting PhD student from São Paulo State University from Botucatu, Brazil . We are hosting Samir here for the Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 terms to study the genetics of aggression in Africanized ‘Killer’ bees! Africanized bees are very defensive, and Samir studied variation in defensiveness across a large number of colonies in Brazil. He is here to apply genomics to understand the genetics of defensiveness in his colonies.

Here is a picture of Samir and a histogram of a measure of colony defensiveness in his study… the number of stings per minute!… yes, the upper limit is 100+ stings per minute… which is pretty nasty…

Thankfully, it was not 100 stings per minute that Samir actually received; he got the data by swinging a little suede-wrapped ball in front of the colonies… brave man! The range of defensive behaviour is very wide… about an order of magnitude difference between ‘happy go lucky africanized colonies ~ 20 stings per minute’ to ‘super aggressive killer bees – 120 stings per min’… bodes well for the genomic study!

Welcome Samir!
Amro

Samir and his 'killer' bees

Samir and his ‘killer’ bees

 

New paper on the immune system of honey bees

By , August 29, 2014

Happy to announce a new publication from the lab on the immune system of honey bees in PLoS ONE. The study explored the genetic relationship between the honey bee’s innate and social immune system. The study was authored by PhD candidate Brock Harpur, with strong contributions from Anna Chernyshova and Arash Soltani – two honours thesis students in my lab (2012). MSc Candidate Nadia Tsvetkov and NSERC USRA students Mohammad and Jack (Zhixing) were instrumental in completing the field-work .

A general summary of the research will follow in a few days…

Amro

Bee Conference @ YorkU Aug 29th 2014

By , August 23, 2014

Hello,
Happy to announce BeeCon3 – Southern Ontario Bee Researchers Symposium – to be held at York University On August 29th 2014.

Here is a link for the full program, BeeCon 2014 program

Program: 

Start
End
Speaker
Talk Title
9:309:45Welcome and coffee at TEL Building 0007
9:4510:00Nigel E. Raine*, Richard J. Gill, and Dara A. StanleyThe impacts of pesticides on bumblebees: from individual behaviour to colony function
10:0010:15Sheila R. Colla* and Victoria MacPhailConserving the buzz: Updates on a policy and ENGO approach to at-risk pollinator conservation
10:1510:30Nadejda Tsvetkov*, Keshna Sood, Harshillkumar Patel, Philip Maciukiewicz, and Amro ZayedPesticide effects on honeybee behaviour
10:3010:45Jen Albert*, Scott MacIvor, and Laurence PackerInbreeding in cavity-nesting megachilids
10:4511:00Laurence PackerBarcoding the bees of the world Ð Progress and prognosis
11:0011:30Coffee break
11:3011:45Scott MacIvorDetection probabilities of native and exotic bees in an urban landscape
11:4512:00Keshna Sood*, Nadejda Tsvetkov, and Amro ZayedThe impact of neonicotinoids on spatial learning and memory on Apis mellifera
12:0012:15Harshilkumar Patel*, Nadejda Tsvetkov, Keshna Sood, and Phillip MaciukiewiczEffects of neonicotinoids on social and innate immunity in the honeybee
12:1512:30Thomas M. OnuferkoResolving a conflict between molecular and morphological data: The systematic position of Coelioxoides
12:3014:00Lunch and an optional tour of the York bee collection (345 Lumbers Building)
14:0014:30Plenary speaker: Sophie CardinalEvolution of buzz pollination in bees
14:3014:45Miriam Richards*, Andreea Botezatu, Jess Vickruck, and Gary PickeringDo eastern carpenter bees use cuticular hydrocarbons to recognize nest-mates?
14:4515:00Amro ZayedWhat can population genomics tell us about the evolution of sociality in insects?
15:0015:30Coffee break
15:3015:45David AwdeForaging and vitellogenin gene expression patterns in eusocial sweat bees using qRT-PCR
15:4516:00Lior Krimus*, Phillip Maciukiewicz, Vijay Sandhu, Brock A. Harpur, and Amro ZayedThe Canadian Honey Bee Genome Survey
16:0016:15James PostlethwaiteBiogeography of Chilean bees in the Atacama Desert: with a focus on the boundary between summer and winter rainfall regions
16:1516:30Vern LewisExtended parental care in a twig nesting carpenter bee
16:3016:45Brock A. Harpur* and Amro ZayedBottom-up identification of convergent evolution in Apis mellifera
16:4517:00Spencer K. MoncktonChilicola (Heteroediscelis): A revised group of Chilean bees
17:0017:15Sandra RehanHistorical biogeography predicts social complexity in the small carpenter bees