Backyard Orchard News
It's a honey of a book.
Honey bee expert Norman Gary, emeritus professor of apiculture at the University of California, Davis, is the author of a newly published book on beginning beekeeping titled Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.
“Keeping bees is far more challenging than caring for common pets,” says Gary, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career.
“Beginning beekeepers become confused by conflicted information they find in books written by amateurs or inaccurate advice on the internet.”
In the 174-page book, Gary shares his extensive beekeeping knowledge spanning more than six decades. “It dispels many beekeeping myths and provides new insights based more on science than on tradition.”
For example, “most people have an exaggerated sense of dread concerning bee stings due to a wealth of misleading negative information in the media,” Gary writes. “With more knowledge and firsthand experience, these fears rapidly vanish.”
“An occasional bee sting comes with the territory, comparable to the small risks associated with most pets,” Gary writes. “Cats scratch, dogs bite, horses kick, and birds peck—just to name a few.”
The book is available online on the Amazon, ebay and other websites, and at a number of bee supply companies and bookstores.
The chapters include “To Beekeep or Not to Beekeep,” “The World of Honey Bees,” “The Bees' Home,” “Getting Started,” “Honey Bee Reproduction,” “Activity Inside the Hive,” “Activity Outside the Hive,” “Colony Defense and Sting Prevention,” “How to Manage Colonies,' “Honey and Other Hive Products” and “Fun Things to Do with Bees.”
Gary trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
He once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness Book of World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.
Gary dedicated the book “to everyone who supported my career with bees: beekeepers, professors, scientists, students, research assistants, movie directors, Hollywood stars, photographers and family—especially Mom, who never complained about stray bees or tracked honey inside the kitchen—and to my dog, who led me to the bee tree that started it all.”
Among those contributing to the book were several “bee people” affiliated with the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Gary, who received a doctorate in apiculture at age 26 from Cornell University in 1959, joined the UC Davis faculty in 1962. He developed and taught the first insect behavior course at UC Davis, and developed and taught a graduate course on the use of television for research and teaching.
A native of Florida, Gary turned a fascination for bugs at age 4 into hobby beekeeping at age 15 when his dog led him to a dead tree containing a wild honey bee nest. He transferred them to a modern hive where they became his “pets.”
Gary, who now lives in the Sacramento area, maintains a website at www.normangary.com/
NORMAN GARY combines two occupations: bees and music. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
'BEE MAN' Norman Gary with a cluster of bees. This photo was taken prior to a bee wrangling stunt for a television program earlier this year. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
One of the highlights of the 58th annual Entomological Society of America meeting in San Diego, Dec. 12-15 is the Linnaean Games.
ESA describes the Linnaean Games as "a lively question-and-answer, college bowl-style competition on entomological facts played between university-sponsored student teams."
Indeed, the games are fun, entertaining and educational. Videos of last year's games are posted here.
This year 10 teams will compete in the preliminaries, set from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 12. The finals will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14.
The teams include our UC Davis Department of Entomology team, coached by faculty member and Extension specialist Larry Godfrey. The bug team members are Meredith Cenzer, Matan Shelomi and Emily Symmes, all in the doctorate program, Andrew Merwin, who is in the master’s program; and alternate Ralph Washington, an undergraduate entomology major.
The list of teams:
University of California, Davis
Washington State University
University of Georgia
University of Florida
Penn State University
University of Maryland
North Central Branch:
Ohio State University
University of Nebraska
New Mexico State
Stay tuned for the winners!
Wool Carder Bee
That quote sound familiar? Chemical ecologist Jacques Le Magnen (1916-2002) said that back in 1970.
World-renowned organic chemist Wittko Francke (right) of the University of Hamburg, Germany, called attention to Le Magnen's quote at a UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday noon, Dec. 8.
It bears repeating: "Nature is more a world of scents than a source of noise."
Insects communicate in a chemical language or chemical signals, Francke told the crowd.
Indeed, scientists have long known that methods that can attract or repel insects have important applications for agricultural pests and medical entomology.
Francke told how a queen bee secretes compounds that regulate development and behavior of the colony, and how an orchid releases the scent of a female wasp to attract male wasps— a scent that results in pollination. He also touched on the “calling cards” of a number of other insects, including bumble bees, wasps, pea gall midges, stingless bees, bark beetles and leafminers. He pointed out that that plants, too, send chemical signals.
UC Davis graduate students James Harwood and Amy Morice of the James R. Carey lab video-taped the seminar. It will be online soon at http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/news/webcastlinks.html
Francke was introduced by chemical ecologist-forest entomologist (and UC Davis Department of Entomology affiliate) Steve Seybold of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station, Davis.
No stranger to UC Davis, Francke previously collaborated with chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, on attractants for navel orangeworm.
In his talk, Francke mentioned Leal’s discovery of a sophisticated mechanism for the isolation of the chemical communication channels of two species of scarab beetles.
Seybold and Francke are collaborating on the chemical signals of the walnut twig beetle, which in association with a newly described fungus, causes thousand cankers disease, a killer of walnut trees.
Thousand cankers disease (TCD) is now found in seven western states, plus Tennessee. Seybold is a key researcher in California.
Scientists believe that TCD occurs only on walnut, predominantly native black walnut, Juglans californica and J. hindsii, although the disease has been recorded on 10 species of walnuts or their hybrids in California.
Often the first symptoms of TCD are flagging and yellowing leaves and branch dieback, said Seybold, who has been studying the chemical ecology and behavior of bark beetles for more than 25 years. Affected branches show sap staining and pinhole-sized beetle holes. Beneath the surface are dark stains caused by the fungus.
A USDA/UC Davis research team is tracking the pathogen and the beetle throughout California, particularly in commercial orchards.
That all points back to “Nature is more a world of scents than a source of noise.”
They Deal with Scents
Those malaria mosquitoes may have met their match--with researchers at the University of California, Davis.
UC Davis entomology doctoral candidate Ashley Horton, recent winner of the 2010 Arthur J. and Dorothy D. Palm Agricultural Scholarship, focuses her research on how mosquitoes transmit malaria.
Horton studies with major professor Shirley Luckhart, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and researches how the immune system of the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, affects the transmission of the Plasmodium parasite, the causative agent of malaria.
Malaria kills more than a million people a year, primarily in Africa.
“Ashley’s work that was recently published in Malaria Journal, together with our co-authors and collaborators Dr. Yoosook Lee and Dr. Gregory Lanzaro, is the first to identify mutations in immune signaling genes that exhibit associations with natural infection with Plasmodium falciparum in field-collected Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes in Mali," Luckhart said. "Plasmodium falciparum is the most important human malaria parasite in Africa and this work is necessary as a foundation to assess whether genetic control measures to block transmission of this parasite will be possible in malaria-endemic countries.”
The research, titled "Identification of Three Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Anopheles gambiae Immune Signaling Genes that are Associated with Natural Plasmodium falciparum Infection," appears in the June 10, 2010 edition of Malaria Journal.
Horton, who received her bachelor's degree in public health studies at The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, joined the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Program in 2005. In 2008 she received a William Hazeltine Student Research Fellowship, an award in memory of a noted California entomologist.
The Palm scholarship supplements her fellowship support from a National Institutes of Health T32 training grant that is managed by director Lanzaro and associate director Luckhart.
Arthur Palm, an alumnus of UC Davis, received his bachelor's degree in agricultural economics in 1939. He and his wife established the endowed fund to support undergraduate and graduate students.
The Palm family and others who fund scholarships not only support our university students; they support public health issues.
They, too, are tackling malaria.
Close-up of malaria mosquito
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, is quoted in a Dec. 6 article in the Epoch Times about colony collapse disorder (CCD).
CCD is the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood, and food stores.
The gist of the Epoch Times article: The European Commission recently published its concerns about honey bee health.
In a communiqué, the commission sought to clarify the key issues related to bee health and key actions that it intends to take to address them.
"Beekeeping is a widely-developed activity in the European Union (EU), both at professional (keepers with over 150 hives) and hobby level," the communiqué began. "There are around 700,000 beekeepers in the EU out of which around 97% are non-professional accounting for around 67% of EU hives. Honey production is estimated to be close to 200,000 tons. Beekeeping is also associated with the production of other products such as wax, royal jelly, propolis, etc."
Epoch Times reporter Marco 't Hoen subsequently sought out Mussen for information on CCD and honey bee health in the United States. Mussen told him that CCD is a worldwide problem.
Twenty-five percent of beekeepers in the United States have recurring problems with CCD, Mussen said. The colonies range in size from one to 15,000.
Wrote the reporter: "He (Mussen) believes that in the U.S., CCD is caused by an infectious disease, which they have not yet identified. His reasoning is based on the fact that when bees are introduced to replace the dead one, they die as well. But when the hive is cleaned properly the new bees can survive."
Indeed, CCD is linked to multiple causes, including diseases, pests, pesticides, malnutrition and stress. Weakened colonies don't fare well.
The Epoch Times article quoted USDA statistics indicating that bee pollination of crops "is worth $15 billion per year" in the United States. For example, "the almond industry in California alone used about half of the 2.3 million colonies in the country in 2009 for pollination." In the European Union, about 700,000 beekeepers maintain almost 14 million colonies, according to the EC communiqué.
As an aside, U.S. beekeepers are now gearing up for the California almond season, which usually starts around Feb. 1. The state has more than 700,000 acres of almonds and each acre requires two hives for pollination. Since California doesn't have that many bees, bees are trucked here from all over the country.
It's a gold rush of sorts in the Golden State.
California, here we come!