Category: News

World Bee Day

By , May 24, 2022

World Bee Day, a chance to remind people how important, and how threatened, the insects are” was published by CBC on May 20th, and portions of the interview were also aired on CBC Radio.

In the article, Dr. Zayed states “I think the next step is to kind of galvanize that support and actually create better habitats in Ontario, and support legislation that kind of protects bees from pesticides and other stressors.”

Beyond legislation, individuals can include native flowering plants or “pollinator gardens” on the land they occupy, participate in programs like the Bumble Bee Watch, and try to support legislation that promotes biodiversity, environmental protection, and more transparency about the chemicals used on public land.”

Dr. Zayed also did a phone interview with Newstalk 1010 and participated in a York University World Bee Day special event titled “Bee the Change”. The recording of this event will be posted here:

A warm welcome to Nathalie, Sheri and Ebadullah!

By , May 9, 2022

This summer, the Zayed lab will be joined by undergraduate students Nathalie Do, Sheri Grach, and Ebadullah Kabir as Research at York (RAY) students. Check out what each of them has to say about their personal and research interests:

” My name is Natalie and I am a 4th year Environmental Biology major. My passion for bees started when I chose to observe generalist pollinators for one of my courses last year (Experimental Design).

I have previously known about the importance of bees and the dangers that they are in but doing such project truly “sealed the deal” for me! They are so cool and I would love to contribute to helping them survive against climate change.”

“My name is Sheri and I am currently starting my third year for biomedical science at York. I am very passionate about health and wellness, and I love being and playing sports outdoors.

I wanted to join Dr. Zayed’s lab as I was a part of STEM Fellowship research before and I was extremely interested researching the genomes of bees and habitats. Dr. Zayed’s lab was the perfect opportunity for that while continuing to expand my knowledge and skills, and I am very grateful for this opportunity.”

“My name is Ebadullah Kabir and I am entering the third year of my Specialized Honours Neuroscience program this coming Fall. I am a big fan of football (the game you play with your feet – so many people call it soccer, I am just not a fan of calling it that way 🙂

I decided to join Dr. Zayed’s lab because I thought it would be a great opportunity for me to broaden the scope of my knowledge and experience in research. Also, hearing that we would work with bees, I did not hesitate – not that I want their honey 🙂 but because they are such smart insects and so dear to me.”

Congratulations to Dr. Bahar Patlar

By , May 2, 2022

Since November of 2021, we’ve welcomed Dr. Bahar Patlar into the Zayed Lab community. Always happy to dive into a deeper understanding when we discuss new publications and ready for have a good laugh, we’ve enjoyed her brief time with us and wish her all the best of luck as she begins her own lab as Principle Investigator at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.

Here’s what Bahar said about her research with us at York University:

“Male reproductive genes, especially one’s coding seminal fluid proteins are known among the most rapidly evolving genes. Thus, they likely accumulate genetic differences between populations at a high rate that may eventually contribute to speciation. During this post-doctoral training led by Prof. Amro Zayed at York University, using the molecular population genetics approach, I investigated the rate of evolution and divergence of drone ejaculate proteins in honeybee Apis mellifera lineages that occur naturally over the vast and varied geographical areas across the world.”

“Since my Master of Science degree projects, I’ve studied male reproductive biology with a wide range of organisms including a non-famous invasive fruit fly Zaprionus tuberculatus, a simultaneous hermaphroditic marine flatworm Macrostomum lignano, and the laboratory all-star Drosophila melanogaster. Now, here at Zayed lab, I met with the incredible world of the honeybee, Apis mellifera.”

“A new chapter in my career will start soon in Germany where I will start my own research group at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg. I plan to combine my knowledge from animals with different mating systems to understand more about the evolution of reproductive traits using fruit flies, honeybees, flatworms, and many more to understand the contribution of reproduction to diversity in life.

Congratulations, Bahar!!

The Concrete Jungle is No Place for Bumblebees

By , April 25, 2022

We just love the press that “Bees in the Six” is getting! The latest is “The Concrete Jungle is No Place for Bumblebees” written by Emily Deibert, a PhD student in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

Read the article in full here

What I really like about this article is the focus on understanding the implications of urban planning from a bumblebee’s perspective. For example, the tradeoff between foraging distance and colony success, or how different “green” spaces can be in offering suitable resources, like nesting habitat, nectar and pollen.

The article does offer a “bee-friendly plant species” resource to support a transition to a bee-friendly garden space, however, we would like to encourage people to consider locally native species. In the Greater Toronto Area, we suggest native Ontario species. Find out more about Ontario’s native species and purchase them here!

Research Awards Celebration – April 2022

By , April 19, 2022

Congratulations to Amro Zayed! This afternoon, Amro is being recognized and celebrated during the York University Research Awards Celebration April 2022 as a Tier 2 York Research Chair in Genomics.

“Zayed’s research group sequences the genomes of thousands of bees to identify mutations that influence their economically and ecologically relevant traits to improve the health of Canadian honey bees.”

Watch the entire awards ceremony here:

Now published – “Bees in the Six”

By , March 22, 2022

Cities are home to more than just huge populations of people and their altered environments. They can also sustain a large number of native and even at-risk species of bees and other wildlife. “Unfortunately, we currently lack research about specific features of urban environments that can enhance the fitness of pollinators.” – until now!

Genetic analysis of surveyed bees showed that dense infrastructure, like buildings, roads, and other paved surfaces, were associated with greater foraging distances for the the common eastern bumblebee (Bombus impatiens) – meaning that they need to fly further for food and can therefore dedicate less energy to raising young. Alternatively, the relative density of houses in Toronto was associated with shorter foraging distances, as they likely provide foraging opportunities in the absence of city parks and watershed forests.

Further, this analysis was unable to associate human income with either bumblebee foraging distance or colony density. Since no evidence of the “luxury effect” in Toronto was found, the benefits of pollination services along with opportunities to observe wild bumblebees and to engage in bumblebee conservation is not restricted to a subset of Toronto’s population.

“Our analysis suggests two simple strategies for improving bumblebee habitat within cities. First, conversion of paved surfaces to functional green space such as parks and meadows is likely to have a significant influence on the quality of pollinator habitats in Toronto. Second, … converting aesthetic green space (i.e., lawns…) into more functional natural green space (e.g., flowering meadows…) can improve the foraging opportunities of bumblebee colonies in Toronto.”

Conflitti et al., 2022

Southern Ontario native plants that would support wild bumblebees and be highly attractive to other native pollinators include: willow (Salix sp.), maple (Acer sp.), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta), Canadian goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), New England aster (Symphyotrichum novaeangliae), and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea).

Congratulations to Kathryn Galang!

By , March 9, 2022

Kathryn Galang officially earned her Master of Science degree yesterday after passing her thesis presentation.

  • Congratulations on completing your research on “The Neurogenic State of Selfish Versus Altruistic Aggression in Honey Bees”!

New postdoctoral fellows join the lab!

By , December 6, 2021

So thrilled to welcome a ‘tremendous’ trio of postdoctoral fellows to the group!

Dr. Bahar Patlar completed her doctorate on the evolutionary quantitive genetics of seminal fluid in flatworms in Bielefeld University, Germany and continued her seminal fluid research on fruit flies in Winnipeg. Can you guess what she will do here?

Dr. Syed Abbas Bukhari completed his PhD in informatics from the University of Illinois working on the genomics of social interactions in sticklebacks. He will be using genomics to study how multiple stressors ‘get under the skin’ of honey bees.

Dr. Sarah French competed her PhD in spatial ecology at the University of Toronto, studying the mechanisms that structure dragonfly communities. She will be studying how landscape and land use influence exposure to multiple stressors in honey bees.

Welcome Bahar, Abbas and Sarah! Can’t wait to see your diverse experiences and perspectives enrich the bee research realm!

Hot off the press: Where did the honey bee come from ?

By , December 6, 2021

Very happy to share this new paper from the lab on the evolutionary origin and adaptive radiation of the honey bee Apis mellifera.

Katie Dogantzis (PhD student in the lab) led this research with the help of several other current and former Zayed lab members, including Tanushree Tiwari (PhD student) and Ida Conflitti and Alivia Dey (Current and former Research Associates, respectively). The study also included collaboration with a large team of researchers from the US, Europe, Africa and Asia.

You can read the open access paper here. [Press release, NewScientist Story]

Congrats Katie!


KC wins ESC’s President Prize for best talk on Social Insects

By , November 22, 2021

Big congrats to MSc Student KC Galang for winning the Entomological Society of Canada’s President Prize for best student talk in the area of Social Insects, for her talk titled “The molecular basis of altruistic and selfish aggression in honey bees”

Congrats KC!