Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
Scientists based at the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered four new honey bee viruses.
Their research, published today in the international Public Library of Science (PLoS) journal, documents what they found in a 10-month study of healthy, commerically managed honey bee colonies.
One virus, the newly named Lake Sinai virus strain 2 (LSV2), predominated. “In fact, we found more than 1 billion LSV2 viral genomes (an approximation of actual viruses) per honey bee in some of the colonies,” said insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, a postdoctoral fellow in the Raul Andino lab at UC San Francisco and the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellow in Honey Bee Biology at UC Davis.
The virus strain is one of two Lake Sinai strains found among the 431 samples the scientists collected. Both replicate in honey bees, Flenniken said.
Flenniken is part of a seven-member team from the Raul Andino and Joseph DeRisi labs at UC San Francisco that today published “Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia" in PLOS.
The research, Flenniken said, provides “a baseline for future epidemiological studies aimed at understanding current and emerging threats to honey bees and determining the causes of the declining bee population."
That it does.
"Michelle Flenniken is particularly adroit at explaining these findings and techniques to academic audiences and the general public," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. Mussen was not involved with the research.
Knowing that numerous viruses, microbes and mites threaten honey bee colony health, the researchers set out to answer the question: “What is normal microbial flora (virus, bacteria, fungi) associated with honey bee colonies over the course of a year?”
They used cutting-edge technology to document the seasonal incidence and abundance of previously characterized viruses. Their broad-scale analysis incorporated a suite of molecular tools: custom microarray, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), quantitative PCR (qPCR) and deep sequencing. Their work enabled rapid detection of the presence—or absence—of all previously identified honey bee pathogens and facilitated the detection of the four novel pathogens.
The research was primarily funded by Project Apis m., (PAm), a Chico-based non-profit organization established in 2006 by beekeepers and orchardists to fund honey bee research on managed colonies. PAm, headed by executive director Christi Heintz, brings together representatives of the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, the National Honey Board, California State Beekeepers Association, and California almond farmers.
Honey bee nectaring on lavender. A UCSF team just discovered four new honey bee viruses. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, the Haagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellow at UC Davis, explains a bee colony. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're looking for something to do tomorrow (Saturday, April 16), it's UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide annual event.
Over at Briggs Hall, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology Department faculty will be offering a taste of honey to visitors. Actually, more than one taste of honey. First, there's the honey derived from orange blossoms, clover, cotton, starthistle and other plants that you can sample. And then there's the taste of honey via samples of Gimbal's Fine Candies, San Francisco. The company donates funds to UC Davis for honey bee research.
Honey tasting time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The place: Briggs Hall courtyard. Cost: Free!
News flash: Mussen will be wearing his "Show Me the Honey" t-shirt.
Human beings aren't the only ones who love honey. Drones (male bees) do, too.
Today bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey was conducting a class at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road when a few drones escaped.
Several wound up by a window, and someone (yours truly) offered them a taste of honey. You think drones are fed only by their sisters, the worker bees? No. They can sip honey, too.
Drone sipping honey at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That old saying, "Be all you can be," should be changed to "Bee all you can bee."
Have you ever seen festooning in a bee hive, when the bees link their legs together to perform tasks?
"They festoon when they're producing a lot of wax and drawing new comb," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Sometimes bees will build comb in bee space, and when the beekeeper lifts out a frame and scraps away the excess comb with a hive tool, the bees may festoon.
Such was the case yesterday at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciity at UC Davis.
If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, does that apply to bees?
Beekeepers with more than 50 colonies and who do business in California will soon have the opportunity to help support honey bee research.
"Honey bee research would receive a substantial shot in the arm if beekeepers operating in California decide to form the California Apiary Research Commission to support honey bee research and information distribution," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in his latest Bee Brief.
Only those beekeepers who register to vote with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) by May 30, 2011 will be allowed to vote on the July referendum. If the referendum is approved, the commission will become a reality and thousands of dollars would be funneled into honey bee research.
A 50-cent fee per hive would be assessed on the 500,000 or so colonies residing in California, Mussen said, "as well as the 700,000 or more that are trucked into California from out of state." That could involve more than 1000 beekeepers.
If one million colonies were assessed, that would mean $500,000 for honey bee research, Mussen said.
California has some 740,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two colonies to pollinate them. Since California doesn't have that many bees, beekeepers across the country truck in their bees for the almond pollination season.
This all came about when the California beekeeping industry approached the state Legislature and asked for an assessment to fund much needed research. The state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 1912, which allows the formation of the commission IF--and only IF--the beekeepers vote to approve it.
So, first beekeepers eligible to vote must register by May 30, and then they vote in July.
Mussen said that at 50 cents per colony, "that would be one-third of one percent, or three one-thousandths of a $150 almond rental."
"Many beekeepers feel that reducing their income from $150 to $149.50 is worthwhile when the money is going to support research that should provide useful information for their operations," Mussen said.
Check out Mussen's Bee Brief for more information and the registration form that can be mailed to the CDFA.
Bees on Almonds
Leaving the Almond Orchards
“If the bee disappears from the surface of the earth, man would have not more than four years to live."
That comment, widely attributed to physicist Albert Einstein, is all over the web. And it keeps surfacing in news stories, talk shows, opinion pieces, documentaries, essays and blogs--just about everywhere where bees are and where they aren't.
Problem is, Einstein (1879-1955) didn't say it.
Even Snopes came out and said Einsten, didn't say it.
Albert Einstein was a physicist, not an apiculturist, ecologist or entomologist. Besides, colony collapse disorder (CCD) didn't gain the news media's attention until 2006.
No one has traced the origin of the comment attributed to Einstein, but some folks think it originated in either France or England. Kind of reminds us of all the places that say "Abraham Lincoln slept here" or "George Washington slept here" or quotes falsely attributed to them.
Snopes said it well: "One tried-and-true method for getting people to pay attention to words is to put them into the mouth of a well-known, respected figure whom the public perceives as being an expert in the subject at hand."
Not only did Einstein NOT say it, but it the quote doesn't take into account that millions of people throughout the world exist on grains (such as rice and wheat), which are not pollinated by bees.
One third of the American diet is pollinated by bees, but that's not the case in much of the world.
"Honey bees are thought to have inhabited our planet up to 40 million years," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "They survived the dinosaurs and the glaciers. It is likely they still will be here long after many other animals have gone extinct."
The United Nations, in its recent report on "Global Bee Colony Disorders and Other Threats to Insect Pollinators," agreed that "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
"The contribution of pollinators to the production of crops used directly for human food has been estimated at $153 billion globally, which is about 9.5 percent of the total value of human food production worldwide," according to the report. Those crops include these categories: vegetables, cereals, sugar crops, edible all crops, fruits, roots and tubers, nuts, and spikes.
Soon someone will be quoting Albert Einstein as saying "the health and well-being of pollinating insects are crucial to life, be it in sustaining natural habitats or contributing to local and global economies."
Or honey bee guru Eric Mussen.
Honey Bee on Almond