Bee Health: That's What It's All About

Feb 18, 2015

"Bee health" is on the minds of beekeepers, scientists, farmers, growers, gardeners, environmentalists and generally, everyone who cares about bees. Which should be everyone.

So we're looking forward to a special seminar by Pennsylvania State University bee scientist Christina Grozinger on "Bee Health: from Genes to Landscapes” on Friday, March 6 at the University of California, Davis.

Grozinger, professor of entomology at Penn State and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, will present the seminar at  1 p.m. in 122 Briggs, off Kleiber Hall Drive. Her host is her former graduate student, Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Niño received her doctorate from Penn State.

 "Populations of honey bees and other pollinators are in decline globally due to the effects of multiple biotic and abiotic stressors," Grozinger says in her abstract. "We have examined the impacts of several of these stressors (pathogens, parasites, and pesticides) on honey bee workers at the genomic level to determine if they perturb common or distinct pathways, and if these pathways are related to particular physiological functions or social behaviors. Parasitization with Nosema and chronic sublethal pesticide exposure both modulate expression of metabolic and nutrition-related pathways, suggesting that nutritional parameters can mitigate the impact of these stressors."

"Additional testing demonstrated that diet can significantly influence individual bees' sensitivity to pesticides," Grozinger continues. "Furthermore, we have demonstrated that the nutritional quality of floral resources is influenced by environmental conditions, and, in turn, influences foraging preferences of bees.  Overall, our results demonstrate that the nutritional quality of floral resources is modulated by multiple factors, bees use nutritional cues while foraging, and high quality nutrition improves bees' resistance to stressors."

Grozinger received her bachelor's degree from McGill University in 1997, her master's degree from Harvard in 1990 and her doctorate from Harvard in 2001.  Her areas of expertise include pollinators, honey bees, social insects, genomics, immunity, behavior and physiology.  See her website for more about her lab research.

Grozinger's seminar will be video-recorded for later viewing on UCTV Seminars. Matthew Prebus, graduate student in the Phil Ward lab, will record the seminar.