Posts Tagged: Neal Williams
We can expect some exciting research to emerge from the U. S. Department of Agriculture's Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI).
And UC Davis pollination ecologist Neal Williams, an assistant professor in the Department of Entomology, is a part it.
Williams and postdoctoral fellow Claire Brittain of the Williams lab will be participating in the SCRI's annual team and advisory committee meeting, to be held Jan. 17-19 in Gainesville, Fla.
Williams is a co-project director of Aspire Project: Augmenting Specialty Crop Pollination Through Integrated Research and Education for Bees, a coordinated agricultural project funded by SCRI. Williams serves as the project leader for habitat enhancement for bees and a co-leader of a project seeking alternative managed bees for almonds.
The meeting will be the first “all-hands-on-deck” meeting to discuss plans for the first field season; to coordinate collection and curation techniques; and to obtain feedback from the Advisory Committee Tentative Plan, according to Rufus Isaacs, berry crops entomology Extension specialist at Michigan State University, Lansing, Mich.
Isaacs directs the Aspire Project for Bees and is the principal investigator of the $1.6-million SCRI grant. (See news release.)
In addition to Williams, the co-project directors are Theresa Pitts-Singer, research entomologist, USDA-ARS Pollinating Insects Research Unit, Department of Biology. Logan, Utah; Mace Vaughan, pollinator program director, Xerces Society, Portland, Ore; and Mark Lubell, Sociology of Sustainability, UC Davis Department of Environmental Science and Policy.
Project Team members are investigating the performance, economics, and farmer perceptions of different pollination strategies in various fruit and vegetable crops. These include complete reliance on honey bees, farm habitat manipulation to enhance suitability for bees, and use of managed native bees alone or in combination with honey bees. The Project Team has a strong outreach focus, said Isaacs, and will deliver its findings to specialty crop agriculture through various diverse routes of traditional and new media, including the Aspire website.
“Our long-term goal is to develop and deliver context-specific Integrated Crop Pollination (ICP) recommendations on how to most effectively harness the potential of native bees for crop pollination,” says Isaacs on the Aspire website. “We define ICP as: the combined use of different pollinator species, habitat augmentation, and crop management practices to provide reliable and economical pollination of crops. This approach is analogous to Integrated Pest Management in that we aim to provide decision-support tools to reduce risk and improve returns through the use of multiple tactics tailored to specific crops and situations. By developing context-specific ICP programs, this project will improve sustainability of U.S. specialty crops and thereby help ensure the continued ability of growers to reap profitable returns from their investments in land, plants, and other production inputs.”
The project objectives are five-fold:
- to identify economically valuable pollinators and the factors affecting their abundance.
- to develop habitat management practices to improve crop pollination.
- to determine performance of alternative managed bees as specialty crop pollinators.
- to demonstrate and deliver ICP practices for specialty crops.
- to determine optimal methods for ICP information delivery and measure ICP adoption
Two other UC-affiliated scientists are involved with the Aspire program: Karen Klonsky, Cooperative Extension specialist with the UC Davis Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; and Claire Kremen, pollination ecologist and professor at UC Berkeley.
All hands on deck!
The blue orchard bee or BOB (Osmia) is being studied as an alternative pollinator. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams working on an Osmia project last summer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
An international research team has been researching honey bee pollination of almonds in the three-county area of Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus since 2008, and what these scientists have discovered is astounding.
The bottom line: Honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present.
The research, “Synergistic Effects of Non-Apis Bees and Honey Bees for Pollination Services,”published in the Jan. 9th edition of the Proceedings of the Royal Society, could prove invaluable in increasing the pollination effectiveness of honey bees, as demand for their pollination service grows.
So when honey bees are foraging with blue orchard bees and wild bees (such as bumble bees and carpenter bees), the honey bee behavior changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, says lead author Claire Brittain, a former post-doctoral fellow from Leuphana University of Lüneburg, Germany and now associated with the Neal Williams lab at the University of California, Davis.
“These findings highlight the importance of conserving pollinators and the natural habitats they rely on,” Brittain says. “Not only can they play an important direct role in crop pollination, but we also show that they can improve the pollination service of honey bees in almonds.”
Where did this project originate? In the UC Berkeley lab of conservation biologist/professor Claire Kremen, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation (Genius) Award. Also an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, Kremen works closely with the department's bee scientists at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Brittain, Kremen, Klein and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis (he joined the team in 2010), co-authored the research.
“This is one of our first demonstrations on how to increase the efficiency of honey bee pollination through diversification of pollinators,” Williams said, pointing out that “With increasing demands for pollination-dependent crops globally, and continued challenges that limit the supply of honey bees, such strategies to increase pollination efficiency offer exciting potential for more sustainable pollination in the future.”
Yes. California’s almond acreage is rapidly increasing. Seems like only a few years ago it was 600,000 acres and now it totals 800,000. Each acre requires two bee hives for pollination, but honey bee-health problems have sparked new concern over pollination services.
As Kremen says: “Almond is a $3 billion industry in California. Our study shows that native bees, through their interactions with honey bees, increase the pollination efficiency of honey bees--the principal bee managed for almond pollination--and thus the amount of fruit set.”
What's next? “The project is ongoing and we plan to investigate further the mechanism behind the increased effectiveness of honey bees when other bees are present,” Brittain says. “We are also going to be looking at how to enhance floral resources for wild bees in almond orchards.”
Meanwhile, watch Professor Klein's UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar, presented in February 2010, when she lectured on “Can Wild Pollinators Contribute, Augment and Complement Almond Pollination in California." It drew widespread interest and a capacity crowd. Click on this link: https://admin.na4.acrobat.com/_a841422360/p37649788/ to hear more.
UC Berkeley conservation biologist Claire Kremen (right) confers with colleague Alexandria-Marie Klein, then a postdoctoral fellow in her lab. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey).
Honey bee visiting an almond blossom in Arbuckle. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Almond orchard in Capay Valley, Yolo County. (Photo by Claire Brittain)
It's a brief appearance but the message is important.
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis, appears briefly in a segment on native pollinators produced by America's Heartland. The show is now airing throughout the country. (Watch video)
Reporter Sarah Gardner of America’s Heartland touches on the declining population of honey bees--which European colonists brought here in 1622--and native pollinators, which are also declining.
“Farmers, scientists and others in U.S. agriculture are mounting an effort to develop a unique pollinator partnership promoting the growth of native plants on farms, orchards and ranches all across America,” Gardner said.
Williams is quoted as saying: “In the East, native bees can potentially provide all the pollination that’s necessary in the vast majority of those farms.”
It's great to see the focus on pollinators!
Gardner interviewed Mace Vaughn of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation; Ernie Shea of the Native Pollinators in Agriculture Project; and A. G. Kawamura, former California Secretary of Agriculture, among others.
Vaughn said that “unless we encourage native pollinators, consumers are going to see fewer food choices and higher prices. The conservationist is urging farmers and growers to add native plants to their growing areas in an effort to attract different bee species, butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals that can help in cross pollinating crops.”
Williams, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 2009, was a featured speaker at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation, held last January in Fukuoka, Japan. He explored agricultural landscape change and the role of bee life history in predicting and understanding responses of bee communities.
(Editor's Note: America's Heartland is airing the program beginning this week (Jan. 1-6) and it can also be seen on America's Heartland website. To learn when the program airs in your zip code, access this site.)
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams of UC Davis with native bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The event, themed "The Bounty of Pollination, More Than Just Honey," will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, UC Davis. Keynote speakers are winning cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg whose film “The Beauty of Pollination” has resulted in more than 23 million views on YouTube; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, who will discuss “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future."
Others speaking will include:
Amina Harris, executive director of the RMI Honey and Pollination Center and owner of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, who will cover “Honey Tastings Across America”
--Victoria Wojcik, associate program manager of the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, “The World of Pollinators”
--Julie Loke, teaching kitchen educator at Davis Co-Op, “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”
Another attraction is the second annual "Best Honey" competition. Beekeepers can enter the competition by bringing a jar of honey (with business card and summary of the honey) to the RMI office on Wednesday, Oct. 24. There's no charge to enter. Those attending the conference will taste and judge the honey.
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis said the newly established Honey and Pollination, was approved earlier this year by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The vision is to “make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Department of Entomology’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.”
The center’s mission is “to showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of the citizens of California. The center will spearhead and nucleate efforts to gain support and assembly teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including the beekeeping industry, agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, backyard beekeepers and the food industry."
• Expand research and education concerning nutrition, health, quality and appreciation of honey
• Develop useful information for California’s agricultural bounty that depends on insect pollination
• Help the honey industry establish labeling guidelines to guarantee pure and unadulterated varietal honey
• Coordinate a multidisciplinary team of experts in honey production, pollination and bee health
• Promote the use of locally procured honey in the home, food industry and restaurants.
A frame of honey from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ready to greet visitors are RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis (left) and event coordinator Tracy Dickinson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis at the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you want to learn more about bees, honey and pollination, then you'll want to attend the debut event of the newly formed Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California, Davis.
Themed "Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey," the event is set from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).
It's “an afternoon of lively discussions, unique tastings and interesting displays on the science behind honey and non-honeybee pollinators,” says RMI spokesperson Tracy Dickinson.
Among the speakers will be Amina Harris, owner of Z Specialty Foods, Woodland; Rebecca Ets-Hokin of the San Francisco Bay Area, certified culinary professional, who will discuss “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”; and Neal Williams, UC Davis assistant professor of entomology, whose topic is “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future.”
Also planned is a best honey competition, a Pollinator Partnership activity, and a reception that will include tastings and best honey competition results.
The cost is $60 per person, with special discounts for UC faculty, staff and students.
Folks attending will definitely walk away with a greater appreciation of honey bees and wild bees.
And a greater appreciation of one of nature's most treasured treats--honey.
A frame of honey at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A drone (male bee), distinguished by its large, wrap-around eyes and stouter body, mingles with his sisters. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)