Posts Tagged: Norm Gary
You've heard of "Got milk?"
With honey bees, it's "Got pollen?"
We spotted a lone honey bee on an African daisy last weekend. It was clear she'd been foraging for pollen. Pollen covered her legs and antennae and rimmed her head. And it was clear where it came from. The pollen on the daisy and the pollen on her matched perfectly.
"The importance of pollen for the health and vigor of the honey bee colony cannot be overstated," writes Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, in his newly published book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees. "Bees need a balanced diet. Honey satisfies the bees' carbohydrate requirements, while all of the other nutrients--minerals, proteins, vitamins and fatty acids--are derived from pollen."
"Nurse bees consume large amounts of pollen, converting it into nutritious secretions that are fed to developing larvae," Gary writes. "During an entire year, a typical bee colony gathers and consumes about 77 pounds of pollen."
Gary further points out: "When she contacts the flower, pollen grains are attracted to her body, similar to the attraction of iron fillings to a magnet."
So, when you see a honey bee covered with pollen grains and think--"What a load!"-- that's just part of the 77 pounds gathered and consumed in a colony per year.
Honey bee collecting pollen on an African daisy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bee covered with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey
Today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, we borrowed a plastic spoon and offered a taste of honey to newly emerged honey bees.
It was their sisters' making and now it was theirs. And soon, they will be making their own.
Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and author of the newly published book, Honey Bee Hobbyist, the Care and Keeping of Bees, writes that "When all conditions are ideal (good weather, long days, intense nectar secretion and very populous colonies), bees can collect enormous quantities of nectar--perhaps around 6 pounds or more in one day--yielding around 2 to 3 pounds of honey per day."
Still, we often hear folks complain about humans stealing honey from the hives.
"Bees consume most of the honey they make," writes Gary, who has kept bees for more than six decades and continues his work as a professional bee wrangler. "Honey is primarily food for them and secondarily a treat for us because they produce more than the require for sustenance, which is 200 pounds per colony annually. The extra honey--anything over 200 pounds--is known as 'surplus' honey because it can be harvested without jeopardizing colony survival."
However, hobby beekeepers usually expect to produce around 100 pounds of honey per hive, he says.
That's definitely more than just a taste of honey!
Honey bee sipping honey in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bee sipping honey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee quickly finds the honey in a spoon. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bee swarms are absolutely fascinating.
Several years ago, when bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey was teaching a queen- rearing class at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, her students received an extra bonus: they witnessed a bee swarm.
Right in front of them, as if on cue, the bees left the entrance of a hive and clustered on a nearby tree branch. That was Lesson No. 1. Cobey and crew quickly captured them and moved the swarm to a vacant hive. That was Lesson No. 2.
Actually, bee swarms aren't that rare on the UC Davis campus. They're just difficult to see because we're usually looking down instead of up.
This week UC Davis employee Suzan Carson alerted us to a bee swarm in the North Hall/Dutton Hall complex. She pointed to a tree branch, about 30 feet off the ground, where, in the deepening shadows, a cluster hung like grapes. "Good eye!" we said.
Today, toting my telephoto lens, I returned to capture an image of the cluster. They were still there, but probably won't be for long. The pending rainstorm may drive them from their temporary home, observed Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, explains the ins and outs of swarms in his newly published book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.
"The act of swarming is perhaps the most dramatic event in the lives of honey bees," Gary writes. "Here's how it happens: Egg production increases dramatically in response to warming spring weather as well as an abundance of pollen and nectar from spring flowers. Within a few weeks, the colony population essentially doubles. Multiple queen cells--usually at least six--are constructed in the brood nest. A few days prior to the emergence of a virgin queen, the old queen's ovaries begin to shrink. Egg-laying essentially stops, and she loses enough weight to permit flight for the first time since her mating flight."
So basically there's "no room in the inn" for the burgeoning population. The colony divides. The swarm usually heads for a nearby tree to cluster on a branch while the scouts search for a new--and appropriate--home.
Meanwhile, back at the old hive, new queens are emerging and what happens next isn't pretty. "Rival queens engage in fierce stinging attacks until only one virgin queen remains," Gary writes.
About a week later, the victorious queen will depart on her mating flight to a drone congregation area, mate with 12 to 25 or so drones, and then return to the hive to lay eggs--as many as 2000 a day during the peak season.
The queen will never leave the hive again...
Unless, on a warm spring day...
Honey bee swarm in the North Hall/Dutton Hall complex at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you've ever watched honey bees work the blossoms, you'll probably see them packing pollen in their pollen baskets and cleaning their tongue as they buzz from flower to flower.
Pollen is protein, and nectar, carbohydrates. Worker bees collect both, plus water and propolis (plant resin) for their colony.
"Pollen in the plant world is the equivalent of sperm in the animal world," writes UC Davis emeritus professor Norm Gary in his book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees. "Fertilization and growth of seeds depend upon the transfer of pollen from the male flower parts (anthers) to the receptive female parts (stigmas). For many species, such as grains and nuts, pollination occurs by airborne pollen that is produced in great quantity and characterized by very small, lightweight pollen grains. Airborne pollen causes most human allergies."
That's what he calls "Pollen 101."
"Inexperienced foragers quickly learn the most efficient movements to dislodge pollen grains from the anthers," writes Gary, who spent 32 years in the academic world of teaching, research and public service and continues to be a professional bee wrangler. "This frequently involves the use of their tongues and mandibles in licking and scraping the anthers, which slightly moistens the pollen."
"After becoming coated in pollen grains, the bees meticulously brush pollen from the body hairs with the comblike hairs on their legs. This process gradually transfers the pollen to the hind legs, where it accumulates as two 'pellets,' adhering to the outer surface of the pollen baskets on their hind legs."
A pollen-collector can collect a full load in about 10 minutes, Gary says. Number of pollen-collecting trips a bee can make in a day? Ten is typical.
Gary, who has amassed more than six decades of beekeeping experience, marvels at how the bee transfers pollen from its body to its pollen basket. It's "choreography that almost defies description," he writes.
Honey bee packing pollen while foraging on a nectarine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey
Honey bee pauses to clean her tongue. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee packing more pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, and its adjacent honey bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, received an international shot of publicity when “My Extreme Animal Phobia” aired last Friday on the Animal Planet Channel.
And, if you missed it, it is scheduled to be broadcast again on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. (Sacramento area).
“It is a story about a man who is extremely afraid of bees,” said apiculturist/professional bee wrangler Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. “He is treated successfully by various exposures to bees and consultation with Sacramento psychologist Robin Zazio.”
Although Gary played a central role in the treatment of the man’s phobia, he did not appear in the program.
But his trained bees did. And so did views of the Laidlaw sign, the bee yard, the haven, a bee observation hive, and some of the art work that graces the haven. (Plus some photos, including a feral honey bee colony, from yours truly.)
Gary, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career, trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials.
The Animal Planet show prominently featured the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis, and she also created the six-foot-long bee sculpture in the half-acre haven. The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by Billick and entomologist Diane Ullman, coordinated all the art work in the haven, which opened to the public on Sept.11, 2010.
Also quite visible on the TV show: the two columns of painted bee boxes that grace the entrance to the garden, and the native bee mural on the tool shed.
By the way, Entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis and an associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, now has a new title: Fellow of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). She received the honor Monday from the 6000-member ESA at its meeting in Reno. The ESA singles out a maximum of 10 persons for the Fellow award each year.
The sign at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. . (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The colorful bee boxes (background) were shown on the TV program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)