Dr. Laurence Packer has been a lifelong entomologist. Bees are his specialty, but his interest in six-legged creatures began at a very early age.
“When I was too young to remember anything my parents – my dad in particular – tried to make sure I wasn’t scared of insects,” he told Planet Experts. “And I guess I overreacted.”
Jovial and forthcoming, Dr. Packer is all too eager to regale his listeners with tales of nature’s most popular pollinator. His research has taken him across the world and to almost every continent in search of new species of Apoidea (the superfamily that includes wasps and bees), and he has documented his travels in the book, Keeping the Bees, which was recently reprinted in a new paperback edition.
In the book, Packer talks relatively little about honeybees, whose preeminent place in the media has obscured the 20,000 or so other species of bee. While Colony Collapse Disorder has decimated populations of honeybees across the U.S. and remains a significant concern among beekeepers and agriculturists, it is a phenomenon that affects a small percentage of worldwide bee species. Packer’s book focuses on wild bees, less well known but in no lesser danger of disappearing.
A melittologist (one who studies wild bees), Dr. Laurence Packer obtained his B.A. in Zoology from the University of Oxford. He went on to earn his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto and is currently a Professor of Biology at York University, where he has served since 1988. Last weekend, he took some time out of his busy schedule to discuss his work with Planet Experts.
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