Members Area

Brisbane branch February meeting featuring Flavia Massaro

  • 2 Feb 2020
  • 13:00 - 15:00
  • THECA, 47 Fleming Rd, Chapel Hill, 4069

The main business is a talk on Bumble bees, by Flavia Massaro

Abstract: The genus Bombus (bumble bee) includes around 250 species found primarily in temperate regions of the Americas, Europe and Asia. Bumblebees are absent from Australia, lowland India, and from most of Africa. Bumble bees have the rare physiological capability (among insects) to thermoregulate: they can fly for foraging under cold, rainy and cloudy conditions and can warm their eggs after laying. Bumblebees can do “buzz-pollination” and thus are extremely important as pollinators of wild plants and also for agriculture both in the field and in greenhouses. Climate change is affecting their distribution and causing population declines endangering some species at risk of extinction, including the subgenus Psithyrus, which are social parasites that act as cuckoos-bumblebees as they invade the host bumblebee nests to produce their own offspring. In this talk, Flavia will introduce us to the nest biology of bumblebees, their caste eusociality and how they can rear their offspring, also in a lab setting. Flavia will give an overview of the microbiota associated with bumblebees and how the symbiotic bacteria and yeasts can benefit the colony.

Biography: Flavia Massaro investigated the chemistries and antibacterial effects of in hive-resins and pot-honey from Australian stingless bees foraging in South East Queensland, during her studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast. As an Australian Endeavour Fellow, she visited the British Centre of Ecology (CEH) to research about British bumblebee rearing and the effects of pesticides on larval development. As a member of the Invertebrate Microbiology Group (IMG) at Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Flavia has been researching about the symbiotic yeasts and fungi in Australian stingless bee nests. IMG is dedicated to study the chemical, molecular analysis and ecology of entomopathogens and invertebrate microbiota, and collaborates with Queensland farmers and beekeepers to apply solutions to real-life agricultural problems.

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