York U bee researchers host conference for local colleagues

Researchers from York’s Faculties of Science and Environmental Studies hosted the fifth Southern Ontario Bee Researchers Symposium, dubbed “BeeCon”, on May 20.

BeeCon is a free, one-day conference that provides an opportunity for local and international melittologists, and students in particular, to meet and discuss their work on a wide range of bee-related topics, including bee behaviour and conservation.

Participants at this year's BeeCon
Participants at this year’s BeeCon

The symposium was initially launched by Professor Laurence Packer in the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, to provide an opportunity for students to showcase their research, receive feedback, and interact with bee experts from nearby universities. This year’s meeting was organized by Brock Harpur, PhD student in Amro Zayed’s lab in the Faculty of Science, and Sheila Colla, assistant professor in the Faculty of Environmental Studies.

“This is one of the more unique, focused conferences I’ve had the pleasure of taking part in,” said Harpur. “It also highlights that York is one of the best places in the world to study bees – with one of the most diverse bee collections and cutting-edge genetic and science-based conservation research and policy development all being pursued in a single university.”

The conference opened with an introduction by Packer, who also announced the launch of his new “Bee Genera of the World” image bank.

This year’s event had a record high attendance of students, senior researchers, community members, and industry professionals. It featured short presentations by colleagues from Brock University, Western University, the Universities of Guelph and Toronto, Fleming College, as well as from the Universities of New Hampshire and Rochester in the U.S. In addition, scientists from Pollinator Partnership and Wildlife Preservation Canada shared their insights.

The event was sponsored in large part by the Faculties of Science, Environmental Studies and Graduate Studies, and the Department of Biology, with support from Friends of The Earth and Wildlife Preservation Canada.