No, not a symposium about tiny Anthophila, but a small get together to discuss bee-related research. One of the pleasures of my job is hosting visiting scientists from around the world and at the moment I am playing host to three colleagues here in Northampton. Dr Pablo Gorostiague from the National University of Salta in Argentina is working with me as a visiting postdoc for six months, whilst from the Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences we have Prof. Chao-Dong “CD” Zhu and Dr Michael Orr here for three days.
So in honour of these visitors, and to introduce them to a wider range of UK bee researchers (some of whom they had corresponded with but never met) I thought it would be fun to organise an informal symposium where people who are (reasonably) nearby could come and present recent bee -related research.
So it was that yesterday a group of about 20 of us spent a great afternoon together listening to 10 short talks. Here are the presenters and a short description of their presentations:
Steven Falk (independent consultant) discussed “Breaking down barriers to bee identification in Britain” and explained the philosophy behind the structure of his recent Field Guide to the Bees of Great Britain and Ireland.
Stella Watts (Universities of Northampton and Haifa) described her work as a postdoc in Israel examining the structure of plant-pollinator networks centred around some endemic irises.
Chris O’Toole (University of Oxford) dealt with an intriguing phenomenon of what appears to be age-related senility in some Osmia spp.
Pablo Gorostiague told us about his work on bee (and other) pollinators of cacti in his native Argentina.
Ratheesh Kallivalappil (University of Lincoln) discussed his PhD work looking at the decline of global pollinator biodiversity in the Anthropocene.
After a tea break, Stephanie Maher (Anglia Ruskin University) described her PhD work on the nesting ecology of solitary bees in the UK, including a very successful citizen science project. She argued persuasively for a national database of bee nesting sites.
CD Zhu discussed how modern omics approaches could be integrated into research programmes for understanding the phylogenies and interactions of large clades of species.
Michael Orr talked about the nesting behaviour of some solitary bees of SW North America, and I was surprised to learn that some species can remain in their nests for up to four years before emerging.
In a spontaneous, unscheduled talk Sam Gandy (Universities of Aberdeen and Sussex) told us about research he was involved with that aimed to assess competition between honey bees and bumblebees foraging on lavender. He did a great job considering he’d not seen the presentation previously, it was emailed to him during the tea break!
Finally I talked about some of our ongoing work assessing the spatio-temporal stability of pollination of an endemic plant by endemic bees in Tenerife.
Following a photo call for all the speakers (see above) we decamped to a local hostelry for beer and food. Al-in-all a great day of science and networking. Thanks to all of the speakers and the audience for taking part!
Here are a few more images from the day:
Michael Orr in action (I helped to cut that hair!)
Chris O’Toole and some of his senile bees
Stella Watts is a blur when presenting her work!
There’s a lot more images on Twitter if you search for #MiniBeeSymposium