Honey bees and the bee industry are often misunderstood, and they face many threats more dire than human prejudice. For example, a couple of the most menacing threats that cause their numbers to dwindle include disease and parasites.
GPRC-CRI’s National Bee Diagnostic Centre-Technology Access Centre, NBDC-TAC, located in the County of Grande Prairie at the Beaverlodge Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research Farm, is a state of the art research center that offers diagnostic services to beekeepers and the bee industry focused on understanding, conserving and promoting the health of bees.
NBDC-TAC was founded in 2012 as the result of a partnership between GPRC’s Centre for Research & Innovation and the Beaverlodge Research Farm-AAFC; the NBDC-TAC is the first of its kind in Canada. The team of accomplished scientists, including Carlos Castillo and Patricia Wolf Veiga, help to preserve bee wellbeing by identifying destructive viruses, bacteria, fungi, and mites.
Joining the NBDC-TAC over the summer are Grande Prairie Regional College students Henri Valliquette and Jamie-Lynn Sarkonak; the three of us summer students recently had a tête-à-tête, discussing their experience with the Centre so far: Henri and Jamie explained how it has been interesting and fulfilling learning from experienced mentors, and using the cutting edge lab equipment also had its virtues.
Being around and working directly with bees illuminates just what the fascinating critters are capable of accomplishing. Not only do bees gather nectar and consequently produce honey, they carry the crucial responsibility of being a chief and highly effective pollinator. This pollination campaign fertilizes plants and crops which, in turn, grow and produce food; the loss of these hard-working and intriguing creatures would be a devastating blow to the world as we know it.
The NBDC-TAC’s devoted staff stand for improving bee health by brandishing knowledge and research; yet, they also help inspired beekeepers see their innovative ideas come to light. Aside from offering diagnostic services for registered bee producers around Canada, the facility also helps to move forward innovative ideas hatched by beekeepers. These ideas may be related to a new design for the entrance way to a hive that prevents other insects or bugs from entering or GPS tracking systems monitoring their flights or new uses of honey. The innovative ideas may lead to starting a new product line or improving the profitability of the business by reducing inefficiencies or waste.
Even though their striped jackets tend to raise the hackles of the people they pass as they journey innocently from flower to flower, a world without bees would be desolate place, indeed. For more information on services offered by the Centre, please visit the NBDC-TAC website. The next time your path crosses with that of a bee, remember that their tireless work brings colour to our world and food to our tables.