NUI Galway to Host Public Seminar on the Fundamental Importance of Bees to Human Existence

Native Irish queen bee and her workers.
Apr 19 2016 Posted: 09:46 IST

NUI Galway will host a one day public seminar entitled ‘What Humans Can Learn From Bees’, presented by Robert Pickard, Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Cardiff on Saturday, 23 April.

Organised as a collaborative event between the Western Beekeepers Association and the Department of Zoology in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, the seminar will discuss what human beings can learn from studying bees and their biology.

Those attending the conference will experience moments of humour, insight, surprise and concern regarding the fundamental importance of bees. Useful information about allergy, disease, nutrition and ageing will be provided throughout the day, to promote health and wellbeing in both bees and their keepers.

In the first part of the seminar Professor Pickard will consider the 14-billion-year history of honeybees and humans from the origin of the current universe to the present day. It will explain how the relationships between microorganisms, plants and animals have unfolded to provide us with the bees and the environment that we have today.

The second part of the seminar will illustrate the characteristics of queen bees along with descriptions of their production and management. Some of the less known activities of queens will be described, as well as sexual polymorphism in bees and humans, to illustrate its role in social supraorganisms (a hive of bees behaving and co-operating as one).

The final part of the seminar will discuss the brains of honeybees and humans including learning, memory, decision-making and communication. Those attending the conference will learn how honeybees and humans are the only two species that can communicate complex navigational instructions.

Commenting on the seminar, Professor Grace McCormack from Zoology in the School of Natural Sciences at NUI Galway, said: “The future of our bees lies with the beekeepers. Bees are of fundamental importance to human existence and need our help. Seminars like this are important for beekeepers, academics and the wider public. We encourage anyone with a general interest in the biology and conservation of bees to attend.”

The seminar will take place in Room AM150 in the Arts Millenium Building at NUI Galway from 10am on Saturday, 23 April.

Professor McCormack will also present a free public talk entitled ‘Towards developing healthier honeybees without using chemicals’ on Friday, 22 April at 7pm in Room AM150. All are welcome.

Full-day attendance fee on Saturday is €30 and for more information please contact or


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