Posts Tagged: Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility
It was a gorgeous day to be out in an almond orchard.
Staff research associate Billy Synk of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis was out tending the research bees earlier placed in two Dixon almond orchards.
Volunteer Randall Cass, who is seeking his master’s degree in international agricultural development at UC Davis, accompanied Synk on his rounds. Cass has previous experience working with beekeepers in Chile. And the Laidlaw bees? The 49 bee boxes are part of a research project launched by Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology.
The almond blossoms perfumed the air as bees buzzed back and forth carrying their loads of pollen to feed the offspring. They're gearing up for the big spring build-up. Soon the queen bee will be laying 2000 eggs a day.
The grass looked exceptionally green and the almond blossoms exceptionally delicate. You could almost hear the quiet and the excitement of spring.
Billy Synk (left) shows Randall Cass a frame. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeeper Billy Synk checks the productivity. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Checking out the bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of the Laidlaw research bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Symphony in the almond blossoms...
There's a wild almond tree planted in a field off Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis, that's incredibly beautiful.
Honey bees from the nearby apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility reunite on the blossoms, each bee seemingly vying for the best pollen to take back to her hive.
The tree is not quite in full bloom, but don't tell that to the bees. We captured a few images of them in flight, a moving symphony performance in the almonds.
Honey bee heading toward almonds blossoms on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee, packing pollen, in mid-flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A blur of bee wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Chris saw it first.
This morning Chris Mussen of Davis contacted his father, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and told him that the photo of him being stung by a honey bee made the Sacramento Bee's list of top 15 2012 stories.
Well, a son should recognize his father's wrist anywhere, right?
He told me to get my camera ready. My Nikon D700, equipped with a 105 macro lens and a motor drive), was strapped around my neck, where a camera ought to be.
I caught the image (actually four of them as my camera shoots eight frames a second) and the rest is history. The photo initially won the first-place (gold) award in a feature photo contest sponsored by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences.
The Sacramento Bee featured it, and later it was selected one of the Huffington Post's most amazing photos of 2012 and "Picture of the Day" on a number of websites.
It depicts a Carniolan bee reared by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey. At the time the image was taken, the bee was defending its hive.
Which is what bees do.
Usually a bee sting results in a clean break, Mussen said. This one shows the bee trailing its abdominal tissue, aka guts.
I earlier wrote about "The Sting" in a Bug Squad blog.
The thing is, people are still saying that I must have spent the day torturing bees to get that shot.
Not true. (Fact is, I've never killed a bee in my life except for the one I stepped on in Hawaii.)
Now folks are jokingly telling me I was torturing Eric Mussen.
Not true, either. He's been stung countless times, and each time, he simply scrapes off the sting with his fingernail.
Which is what beekeepers do.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen being stung by a bee in an unexpected encounter at the Harry H. Laidalw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Just call it going for the roses.
Or a hot spot.
In between the showers and the sunshine, the bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, emerge from their hives to forage.
They buzz over to the nearby Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre garden with year-around blooms.
One bee on a rose.
Two bees on a rose.
Three bees on a rose.
Four bees on a rose.
It's not often you see four honey bees sharing the same blossom.
In his poem, "Ode to the West Wind," English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) asked: "...if Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?"
Yes, especially on a December day that looks and feels like spring.
The garden, a year-around food resource for bees that also functions as a demonstration garden, is open from dawn to dusk for free, self-guided tours. Come spring, plans call for guided tours in a project headed by Christine "Chris" Casey (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. There will be a small fee for guided tours.
Bring your camera!
ONE: A sole honey bee visits a rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
TWO: Two bees visit a rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
THREE: Three bees visit a rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
FOUR: Four bees visit a rose. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's the Big 4-0 for the Almond Board of California's annual almond industry conference this week.
Some 1000 convention-goers are gathering in the Sacramento Convention Center. The 40th annual conference opened Tuesday, Dec. 11 and runs through Thursday, Dec. 13.
A contingent from the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, is there--including some from chemical ecologist Walter Leal's lab and some from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Many came to hear U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
After all, almonds are California's biggest export. With some 750,000 acres of almonds in production in the state, the National Agricultural Statistics Service is forecasting a record-breaking 2.10 billion meat pounds this year, valued at approximately $3 billion. Eighty-percent of the global supply of almonds is grown in California, and about 70 percent of California’s crop is marketed overseas.
Over at the Laidlaw facility, you can't help but notice the sign that graces the entrance. The work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis, it shows a skep, honey bees, DNA strands, and almond blossoms.
Then if you walk a few steps east of the facility to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, you'll run into the gigantic worker bee sculpture, also the work of Donna Billick. It's a six-foot-long morphologically correct worker bee, right down to the wax glands.
If it appears to be on a pedestal, that's the way it should be. Honey bees, those tiny agricultural workers, pollinate one-third of the food we eat.
As for the almonds, the pollination season begins around Valentine's Day. The orchards will be buzzing. It takes two hives per acre to pollinate California's almond crop.
Sign at the entrance to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis depicts honey bees, a skep, DNA and almond blossoms. It is the work of Donna Billick of Davis (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Fog shrouds the bee sculpture in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It is the work of Donna Billick of Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bee working an almond blossom. She's packing her pollen load. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)