Honey Bees Pathogen Response

Honey Bees Pathogen Response

Project Lead

Leonard Foster, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Faculty of Medicine, Director, Centre for High-Throughput Biology


Genome BC, Genome Canada, Agriculture and AgriFood Canada, Centre for High-Throughput Biology, British Columbia Honey Producers Association, USDA, BC Cranberry Growers Association, University of Manitoba, UBC, Genome AB, BC Blueberries


About the Project

Worldwide, honeybee colonies have been dying off rapidly, often due to the spread of deadly mites. Using advanced genomic tools that using advanced molecular measurements and behavioural observations, the team tries to understand some of the means by which bees can defend themselves against pathogens and enrich a particular kind of social behaviour in bees, known as “hygienic behaviour”. This project also utilizes selective breeding to attempt to enrich hygienic behavior so that bees can better fend off mites and bacteria. Additionally, the Foster lab is very active in extension and frequently engages the public on various aspects of honey bee biology.

External Links and Publications

Project Partners: Genome BC, Genome Canada

Global Article: Saving our honeybees with their own DNA: UBC Research

Access all of Leonard’s publications here.

Bixby, M., K. Baylis, S. Hoover, R. Currie, A. Melathopoulos, S. Pernal, L.J. Foster and M.M. Guarna. (2017). A bio-economic model of Canadian honey bee colonies: marker-assisted selection (MAS) in queen breeding affects colony profits. Journal of Economic Entomology. 110(3):816-825. doi: 10.1093/jee/tox077.

McAfee, A., T. Collins and L.J. Foster. (2017). Odorant cues linked to social immunity induce lateralized antenna stimulation in honey bees (Apis mellifera L.). Scientific Reports, 7: 46171. doi: 10.1038/srep46171. PMID 28387332.

Guarna, M.M., S.E. Hoover, E. Huxter, H. Higo, K.M. Moon, D. Domanski, M.E.F. Bixby, A.P. Melathopoulos, A. Ibrahim, M. Peirson, S. Desai, D. Micholson, R. White, C.H. Borchers, R.W. Currie, S.F. Pernal and L.J. Foster. (2017). Peptide biomarkers used for the selective breeding of complex polygenic traits. Science Reporting, 7(1):8381. doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/076174

McAfee, A., Q.W.T. Chan, J. Evans and L.J. Foster. (2017). A Varroa destructor protein atlas reveals molecular underpinnings of developmental transitions and sexual differentiation. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. 16(12) (2017): 2125 – 2137. PMID: 28867676. doi

Banner Photo Credit: Wolf Reed