Category: Pictures

Jacob R!

By , November 7, 2016

Finally managed to get a picture of Jacob R – our bioinformatics Research at York undergraduate – at a recent lab gathering.  Jacob has been with the lab since the summer of 2016.

Jacob R - Bioinformatics RAY

Jacob R – Bioinformatics RAY

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.


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

Tenure cake!

By , May 15, 2014

The lab threw me a surprise tenure party yesterday!… Here is a few pics of the celebration!


Tenure Cake

Tenured Card

Tenured Card


BeeUnit v.2014 L to R: Maisha, Jen, Keshna, Vijay, Nadia, Amro, Brock, Alivia, Sunny, Lior, Harshil. [Missing: Daria and Phil]

Brock successfully completes his prelims

By , April 1, 2014

Happy to report that Brock Harpur successfully completed his doctoral preliminary exam two weeks ago. Congrats Brock!


Brock contimplates Y?

Around the continent in 30 days.

By , February 26, 2014

… it started with a trip to Edmonton, Alberta, to attend the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists’ annual meeting. We managed to outline the research priorities for Apiculture in Canada over the next few years, and I gave a talk on the genetics of honey bees.

The CAPA brain trust [i am in the middle row, second in from the right]. Edmonton, Alberta, Jan 2014

Then back to Toronto for a week, then off to the Gordon Research Conference on Genes and Behaviour held at Galveston Texas for another week. There i rubbed shoulders with some of my citation heroes and gave a seminar on bee population genomics and behaviour.

Back to Toronto on Friday [after a 12 hour limbo @ Houston Airport], then delivered a public seminar for the Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science on Sunday. The talk was a great experience. I also got a kick from seeing my name before the amazing Canadian Astronaut, Colonel Chris Hadfield, who was slated to speak the week after me (he had cancelled earlier, but after the brochure was printed).  I showed my family – i told them that i was speaking before that ‘Guy from Space’ 🙂 I actually feel extremely fortunate to get invited to speak at such a prestigious event, with an amazing line up of speakers, which include York U’s incoming dean of science, Ray Jay!

Amro, then that guy from space!

Amro, then that guy from space!

Then, I left Toronto Sunday night for a much needed mini vacation in the Caribbean over reading break.

That is more than 15,000 KM traveled over 30 days!… i think i am going to hang around Toronto for the next little while.




By , January 7, 2014

Very happy to report that, after months of hard work, we’ve just heard that our study will be published in PNAS – a top science journal. Can’t tell you much about the article now – it is embargoed until published – but it is very very neat in my humble and biased opinion. We had a little mini-celebration with PNAS cake… Yum! 🙂


Hmmm, 40^3!


[L to R]: Nadia, Alivia, Jen, Daria, Phil, Brock, Lior, Amro

Farewell Clement!

By , August 9, 2013

July was Dr. Clement Kent’s last month as postdoc in the lab; he will start a new position as a Senior Scientist at Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus – probably one of the best places in the world to do neuroscience at the moment.  Clement was the first member to join my lab; he joined as a NSERC Postdoc fellow.  Congrats Clement; you’ll be missed!

Farewell Clement!

Farewell Clement!
top L-R: Maria, Catherine, Nadia, Daria, Clement, Jonathan, Brock, Phil, Lior
bottom L-R: Keshna, Amro, Ash, Kajendra, Bahar

Scary Science

By , November 5, 2012

Hmmm…. i am starting to have my doubts about this new grad student from Transylvania.  Her work habits are a bit unusual (working at night, sleeping by day)….. But she is very productive…. some would even say that she devours other students for lunch…

I want to drink your hemolymph

The queen with no wings

By , September 14, 2012

We had a very interesting queen in our last graft of the season; she had some damaged wings (problems with development? virus?).  This is very bad, because virgin queens mate on the ‘wing’ !!! I was curious to see if the factors that affected her wing development also affected her reproductive abilities.  So I instrumentally inseminated her with sperm from a single drone; half expecting that she will quickly overthrown by her workers.  A month or so later, she is laying like a champ!

Also note the little primitively eusocial sweat bee Halictus confusus sneak into the honey bee cell while i was taking pictures of the queen – very cute!

Diversity in honey bees: Cover and Perspective

By , September 12, 2012

Our paper on the effects of management on genetic diversity of honey bees appeared in print today in Molecular Ecology – we also got the cover picture (a nice picture of a queen with her retinue of workers).  Also appearing in this issue is a very nice perspective on our research written by Dr. Ben Oldroyd from the University of Sydney Australia.  Dr. Oldroyd has been studying honey bee genetics for more than two decades, and it is a honour to have him comment on our research.

The full citation of the perspective is:

OLDROYD, B. P. (2012), Domestication of honey bees was associated with expansion of genetic diversity. Molecular Ecology, 21: 4409–4411. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05641.x