Backyard Orchard News
You've probably seen carpenter bees engage in the practice known as "nectar robbing."
Due to their large size, they cannot enter tubelike blossoms such as salvia (sage), so they slit the base of the corolla. They rob the nectar without pollinating the flower.
But have you ever seen a honey bee come along and enter the very spot of a corolla that a carpenter bee has pierced?
We saw a honey bee do just that at the UC Davis Arboretum last weekend.Maybe this UC Davis bee was "smarter" than the average bee?
Carpenter Bee Robbing Nectar
Honey Bee Robbing Nectar
Pollen-packing honey bees dangling from gaura (Gaura linheimeri) are a joy to photograph.
Gaura, native to Louisiana, Texas and Mexico, is a long-stemmed plant with a burst of pinkish-white petals that resemble whirling butterflies.
A member of the Onagraceae family (think primroses, fireweed and fuchsias), it's a perennial that needs little care.
Gaura! Gaura! Gaura!
Honey Bee on Gaura
Don't know if silence is GOLDEN, but Italian honey bees definitely are.
Early morning Saturday, I watched a bee the color of liquid gold nectaring the lavender in our yard.
A golden opportunity to capture her brilliance. She won't live long. Field bees live only four to six weeks in the peak season, so in a few weeks she'll be gone. Others will take her place.
A click of the shutter and a moment preserved in time.
Meanwhile, work is progressing on the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden situated next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
By mid-October it will be finished and ready for golden moments--for the honey bees and the visitors. The haven will be a year-around food source for bees. Plus, it is expected to increase public awareness about the plight of bees AND help visitors glean ideas about what to plant in their own gardens.
Lavender is one of them.
Nectaring on Lavender
Carpenter bees (Xylocopata tabaniformis orpifex) can't get enough of the day lilies in our yard.
In the early morning, they buzz into the patch of day lilies to forage for nectar and pollen. When they're finished, it's easy to tell where they've been: they're covered with telltale yellow pollen.
Blue sky, yellow lily, yellow pollen on a magnum-black carpenter bee.
What a contrast.
And definitely worthy of a photograph.
Congratulations are in order.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has just been selected a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a prestigious honor granted to only 10 or few members of the 6000-member organization each year.
Leal is internationally known for his pioneering and innovative work on insect communication.
“This is a highly prestigious honor and richly deserved,” said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and one of 10 other UC Davis entomologists named ESA Fellows since 1947.
May Berenbaum, professor and head of the Department of Entomology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, one of the scientists who supported his nomination, praised him as a "trail blazer" and lauded his leadership.
Leal and his lab discovered the secret mode of DEET, the insect repellent. For some 50 years, scientists figured it worked by either jamming the insect's senses or masking the smell of the host. Not so. In groundbreaking research, the Leal lab showed that mosquitoes can indeed smell DEET, but they avoid it because they don't like the smell.
In other words, it smells bad. That's why they avoid it.
The groundbreaking research, published Aug. 18, 2008 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is among the most widely downloaded and cited PNAS documents.
Leal's pheromone work has graced the cover of several journals, including Structure, and has been showcased in the popular press, including the BBC, New York Times, and National Public Radio.
Leal has identified and synthesized complex pheromones from such insects as scarab beetles, true bugs, longhorn beetles, moths, and the naval orangeworm.
Entomologist Bruce Hammock, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, said Leal’s research has “practical implications in explaining how insects communicate within species, how they detect host and non-host plants, and how insect parasites detect their prey.”
Leal's navel orangeworm work alone is certain to result in a multi-million dollar beneficial impact on crops ranging from almonds to citrus, Hammock said. Leal's research on mosquito behavior is crucial to controlling vectorborne diseases like West Nile virus and malaria.
And now, an honor to match.