Bee Pathogen Survey

In 2018, 4-VA awarded Dr. Haw Chuan Lim $20,000 to work with Rebecca Forkner and T’ai Roulston on a grant called High-throughput bee pathogen survey: combining expertise in pollinator biology, bioinformatics and genomics to yield insight into pollinator health.

Native and managed insect pollinators, especially bees, are responsible are for more than $15 billion worth of crops annually in the U.S. alone. This project combines expertise on pollinator biology, conservation, bioinformatics and genomics to investigate the occurrence and genotype of pathogens and parasites of bees in Northern Virginia. Specifically, the project addresses the question of whether the presence of managed or feral honeybees, with their large colony sizes, influences pathogen populations of native bees (bumble and mason bees). This is achieved by collecting bees across 10 sites and analyzing pathogen (e.g., viruses, fungi) strains using high-resolution genotyping techniques.

Dr. Haw Chuan Lim
Assistant Professor of Biology

Dr. Rebecca Forkner
Associate Professor of Biology

Dr. T’ai Roulston
Research Associate Professor and Curator, State Arboretum of Virginia

Benefits to the Commonwealth

Provides critical epidemiology information for threatened pollinators


Student Researchers


Conferences & Workshops

Our results will be very relevant to the basic understanding of pollinator ecology, and management and conservation of bee populations.  I foresee future funding from federal grant resources and private conservation organizations. Some of this lab work hasn’t been done before and it’s already opened up more research opportunities.