Backyard Orchard News
This week at Lindcove REC the John Deere Company installed two John Deere Field Connect™ soil...
Craig Hornung installs a soil moisture sensor.
Screenshot of data from soil moisture sensor.
These things go together:
Ham and eggs, macaroni and cheese, and beer and bugs.
Beer and bugs? Definitely! Haven't you ever had a few crickets with your Kölsch?
Well, you will if you attend the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's event, "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven," set from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Crickets? It's what's for dinner. And more.
UC Davis Professor Charles Bamforth, aka “The Pope of Foam,” will team with David George Gordon, aka "The Bug Chef," to create eight different insect-inspired creations for the ultimate tasting experience, says spokesperson and administrative assistant Elizabeth Luu. It was her idea--and a fine one at that!--to launch the event.
The RMI "has been a hotspot for famous chefs, wine and beer pairings, and cutting-edge research for all things gastronomic," Luu says. "The Institute places itself in the forefront of the entomophagy—'bugs as food' movement by providing an informational but entertaining dining experience for the curious consumer."
Eighty percent of the world consumes insects as a protein source, Luu points out. "As the world's population continues to grow exponentially, there is more need than ever for an alternative protein source."
Indeed. We prefer our honey bees in hives or photographs but people in many parts of the world, including Africa and Asia, eat brood comb. They consider it a delicacy.
Drone pupae, some beekeepers say in The Bee Source forum, are delicious, especially drizzled with a little honey. Bon appétit!
The UC Davis event will demonstrate various, innovative and creative uses for insects as a food source. You'll hear short lectures followed by tastings led by Bamforth and Gordon. Bamforth, by the way, is the distinguished Anheuser-Busch Endowed professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, and Gordon is a celebrity chef and the award-winning author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
Tickets are $50 for the general public and $25 for students. Here's what else is good about the event: A portion of the proceeds will go to the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology to fund teaching and research.
To register, visit the RMI website. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Luu at email@example.com or at (530) 754-6349.
RMI was made possible through the generous donation of $25 million from Robert Mondavi in 2001. The institute, involved in research, education and outreach, is comprised of two departments: Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology.
Would you eat honey bee larvae? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wax moth larvae: good source of protein? And throw in a few small hive beetles for good measure? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How's your front yard looking?
A little bit brown due to the drought? Thinking of replacing some of your plants with drought-tolerant ones? And hoping to attract some bees, butterflies and other wildlife?
You're in luck. The UC Davis Arboretum is planning its next public plant sale this Saturday, Oct. 11. The theme is, appropriately enough, "The New Front Yard."
The plant sale will take place in the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to members only from 9 to 11 a.m. (but if you're not a member, you can join at the door), and it's open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
UC Davis Arboretum officials point out that many homeowners want to replace "high-water use plants with low-water alternatives" and they're going to help you. "We are going to have the area's largest selection of attractive, drought-tolerant, easy-care, region-appropriate plants including lots of California natives and Arboretum All-Stars."
They've published a list of some "attractive, region-appropriate plants that save water and support wildlife," complete with botanical names and photos. (Download PDF)
They include California buckeye, manzanitas, California pipevine, narrow leaf milkweed, Frikart's aster, Caliifornia aster, coyote brush, creeping Oregon grape, Blonde ambition blue grama grass, western spicebush, concha Ceanothus, Ray Hartman's California lilac, western red bud, Island mountain mahogany, California fuchsia, California buckwheat, St. Catherine's lace, coast silktassel, salt heliotrope, toyon, purple lantana, Goodwin Creek lavender, cape weed, monkey flower, deergrass, Hopley's purple oregano, Santa Margarita foothill penstemon, hollyleaf cherry, blue oak, California coffeeberry, pink chaparral currant, flowering currant, Santa Catalina Island currant, white sage, Cleveland sage, autumn sage, Santa Barbara sage, Cascade Creek California goldenrod, alkali sacaton, yellow autumn crocus and Roger's red grape.
Those are just a few of the plants they're offering for the plant sale.
Ah, so many choices, so little space. And one of the best parts? The bees and butterflies and other pollinators they attract.
A Gulf Fritillary butterfly on purple lantana. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee on pink chaparral current. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sweat bees (Halictus ligatus) on goldenrod. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A syrphid fly, aka hover fly and flower fly, on Russian sage. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's something you don't see every day.
I'm used to seeing Gulf Fritillary chrysalids hanging from our passionflower vine (Passiflora) but this thing hanging from our African blue basil was not a chrysalid.
"It's a dead caterpillar killed by an infectious virus disease (polyhedrosis)," said butterfly expert Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis.
Naturalist Greg Kareofelas, an associate at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, figured it could be the remains of a noctuid (moth). "It kind of looks like it," he said. "It is definitely dead."
Those who rear butterflies see polyhedrosis quite often, I'm told. All I've reared are a few Gulf Frits. Scientific name, Agraulis vanillae. They're beautiful reddish-orange butterflies with iridescent silver or "spangled" undersides.
"A dead insect like this, hanging from the upper foliage, is very classical of a NPV-infected caterpillar," said researcher Shizuo "George" Kamita of the Bruce Hammock lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "Nucleopolyhedrovirus (previously called nuclear polyhedrons virus) is a type of baculovirus that is commonly found in the environment. Baculoviruses are used as a biological insecticide against caterpillars. Twenty years ago Bruce's lab was involved in genetically modifying the wild type baculovirus to improve its ability to reduce feeding damage."
Professor Shapiro pointed out that "Polyhedroses are extremely infectious. Dispose of the cadaver and wash off the areas vertically below it with a forceful spray, if you don't mind wasting the water. The dying larva drips infectious liquid. Kind of like Ebola!"
So we bagged the dead caterpillar and turned the hose on the leaves. As we did, we noticed life as usual: honey bees nectaring the African blue basil blossoms, and a tiny white crab spider lurking.
Life and death in the garden...
This is a dead caterpillar killed by an infectious virus disease (Polyhedrosis), as identified by UC Davis butterfly expert Art Shapiro. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
For years, uninformed folks have declared that honey is "bee vomit."
These things are inequitably false.
1. The world is flat.
2. Einstein said that "if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left."
3. Honey is bee vomit.
Yet people gleefully insist that honey is bee vomit. Why do they say that? Who knows? To make people stop eating it? To deter them from consuming honey as they eagerly spread it on their waffles, toast or English muffin? To make fun of people who love honey, a wonderful treat that's sometimes called "the soul of a field of flowers?" Sensational or junk "news," the kind that tabloids print without checking?
Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who retired this June after 38 years of service, says: "I make the distinction between honey bee regurgitation and mammalian vomit based on the fact that the nectar and honey being processed by the bees never have direct contact with food being processed, or expected to be processed, 'digestively' as is the food in a mammalian stomach."
"Although many sources refer to the honey bee crop as the 'honey stomach,' it is not a place where consumed foods are being digested in honey bees."
In their book, Honey Bee Biology and Beekeeping, authors Dewey Caron and Lawrence John "Larry" Connor define the honey stomach as a a "honey sac."
It's "an enlargement of the posterior end of the esophagus in the bee abdomen in which the bee carries the nectar from flower to hive."
Bee vomit? No way. It's where nectar is stored. It's not a stomach as we know it.
Honey is not bee vomit. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)