Look up – waaaay up….

There’s a bumblebee on one of these giant sunflowers in our garden (4 m tall!).   She was a big one – you can see her even though she was up there! IMG_0906.jpgIMG_0909.jpg

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Pan-trapping Day 3, Year 14 (!!!)

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Recommended read: THE KEPLER CODE by Paul McKay


I’m a biologist who studies bee behaviour and ecology, and I love well written books with actual plots, so this sci-fi novel was right up my alley.  Set in a future time that might not be as distant as we could wish, when bees and butterflies and bird song have disappeared, a group of biologists and environmental scientists have formed a secret, underground resistance group who seek the “Kepler Code”, secrets embedded in nature and music that might just save us all.  Great read that kept me up late, which doesn’t happen often anymore (not since Harry Potter, at least)!  Given recent events, I hope there’s a real Kepler Code somewhere.

The book’s genesis also has a great back story.  The bee theme is not accidental.  Peter Mackay sponsored a “Save the Bees” lecture tour about the dangers of neonicotinoid pesticides to bees,  in cooperation with the Sierra Club in 2015.  I gave a talk at the Niagara whistle stop on this tour, and Peter gave me an autographed copy of his book.  You can buy a copy on Amazon. And you can find out more about Peter at his website.

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Morning surprise: a new paper I didn’t quite realise I had coauthored…

captureThe third thing I did this morning was check my email (I’ve learned never to check my email first thing – there are so many better ways to start the day).  I was surprised to find a Google notification about the publication of a paper I coauthored – what paper could that be?  Must be someone else.  But nope, there’s my name buried amongst dozens and dozens of coauthors!  I can’t count high enough to know how many, but I pushed the PgDn button 13 times to get to the end of the list.  This is the second mass authorship paper based on our pan trap studies of bees – I am beginning to feel like I could pretend to be a Big Data Ecologist!  Does <1% of an authorship count for anything other than fun?


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A microscope demo produces some great sweat bee pics for us

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The specimen is a male Agapostemon virescens captured in 2015. Look closely at the  antennae – are those tiny mites or spots?  The microscope is made by Keyence.

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New paper: Experimentally induced alloparental care in a solitary carpenter bee


New paper by former MSc student,Vern Lewis, now a PhD student at the University of Guelph. The link allows free downloads until 24 January. https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1UA3ImjLeuCr

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Another major accomplishment for the Bee Lab:  Winner of the departmental ugly Christmas sweater contest

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