Members of the Alberni District Secondary School beekeepers work on their hives and garden at the school. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Port Alberni high school Bee Club hosts talk on pest-resistant honey bees

ADSS Bee Club provides students with hands on experience

The Alberni District Secondary School (ADSS) Bee Club provides students with hands on experience learning to care for honey bees. The goal of the class is to encourage students to become lifelong beekeepers.

As part of their learning, the Bee Club will host a special presentation on Varroa Sensitive Hygienic (VSH) honey bees Thursday, Nov. 14. The evening is presented with the support of a grant from the Bee BC Program of the British Columbia Investment Agricultural Foundation.

Guest speakers Wendi Gilson and Iain Glass will present their work on the science, benefits of VSH bees and means of breeding VSH queens for establishing pest-resistant colonies. Gilson and Glass are VSH queen bee breeders who hope to provide strategies for valley beekeepers to breed their own VSH bees.

Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) is a natural behavioural trait of honey bees in which bees detect and remove bee pupae that are infested by the parasitic Varroa mite, according to an ADSS spokesperson. The Varroa mite is a vector of several bee diseases. Selective breeding is being used to establish mite resistance, and also, other disease resistance.

Within the isolation of Vancouver Island, the mountains around the Alberni Valley offer a natural boundary for re-populating local bee colonies with this pest-resistant strain of bees. “The goal of increasing overall bee colony health in the valley is a real possibility. With the valley’s abundant natural flora there is therefore potential to establish a significant networked-community of successful hobby and commercial beekeepers.”

The VSH honey bee talk takes place Nov. 14 at 6:30 pm at ADSS Activity Rooms 1 and 2, inside the main entrance of the school at 4,000 Roger Street, Port Alberni. Everyone is welcome.

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