June 17 Guest speaker – Dr. Gard Otis

Honey bee swarming: a lesson in cooperation and group decision-making.” Perhaps we humans can learn something about cooperation and peaceful decision-making from our bees! 
Dr. Gard Otis studies the ecology, behaviour and evolution of honey bees and butterflies. His early passion was birds, but as a student at Duke University he “discovered” insects as research organisms. For his graduate study at the University of Kansas, he travelled to South America in 1975 to discover the biological factors that allowed African honey bees to increase their population size and range so quickly.  Upon completion of his PhD degree spent 1980 in Venezuela comparing the reproductive biology of African and European honey bees. A major component of that research involved marking several thousand European and African drones, then trapping them in drone congregation areas situated 1-4 km away from their home apiary.
     Gard joined the University of Guelph in 1982.  The arrival of honey bee tracheal mites in the USA in 1985 led him to first evaluate their seriousness as a pest of honey bees, then to initiate a successful breeding program to develop HBTM-resistant honey bees.  He is recognized as an authority on honey bee species that inhabit Asia—and has personally observed all 8+ species of Apis in their native habitats.
     Gard officially retired from the University of Guelph in 2017 where he taught ~4000 students during his career about the fascinating lives of honey bees.  He remains involved in research and writing projects related to honey bees and butterflies. He currently collaborates with Indian scientists and students on the ecology of the Himalayan honey bee, Apis laboriosa. He lives with his wife and son near Guelph.


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