Backyard Orchard News
We recently wrote about Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists training honey bees to detect explosives. It works this way: they harness bees and place them in little scientific containers. When the bees detect the scent of explosives, they stick out their tongues. It's in anticipation of a treat, ala the Pavlov dog method.
Today in the news: The mysterious bottled liquid tucked inside a passenger's luggage that led to the closure of a Bakersfield airport has been identified as--you guessed it--HONEY!
News reports indicated that the suspicious liquid triggered a shutdown of the Meadows Field Airport. Hazardous material crews and a bomb squad raced to the scene.
And only to find: HONEY!
Of course, we can't be too careful these days.
Still, it makes you wonder what would have happened if bomb-sniffing honey bees were on duty at the airport (they're NOT!) and detected the smell of--HONEY!
Honey can indeed look like a suspicious substance. That's why, when I travel on airlines, I never pack honey. Honey stays home or travels via the U.S. Postal Service.
Otherwise, I could wind up in a really sticky situation.
Interesting--and a little ironic, too--that this week members of the American Honey Producers' Association are gathering in Sacramento for their 41st annual conference.
Let's hope that when they prepare to return home, they don't pack that bee byproduct--HONEY!
When the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, launches its winter noonhour seminar series on Wednesday, Jan. 6, crickets will be first in line.
UC Riverside postdoctoral researcher Nathan Bailey will speak on "The Role of Behavioral Plasticity in the Evolution of Silent Crickets" from 12:10 to 1 p.m. Wednesday in 122 Briggs Hall.
Bailey focuses his research on sexual selection, behavioral ecology, phylogeography and insect immunity "with an emphasis on how behavioral plasticity shapes selection and influences reproductive isolation."
His study systems include Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) and the Pacific field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus).
The seminars are open to all interested persons.
The swamp sunflower that graces the entrance to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, does quadruple duty.
It's stunningly beautiful. It's strong and sturdy. It's a late bloomer. And the honey bees love it.
This perennial sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) can reach 5 to 10 feet tall. It likes its soil moist, which is why it's often planted around water gardens.
You can almost feel the warmth of the sun backlighting the blossoms, as the nearby honey bees forage.
One drawback: it's as vigorous as bamboo and can take over a yard. But oh, how swamp sunflower can color a flower bed.
Until the first frost.
Say that at the American Honey Producers' Association (AHPA) convention Jan. 5-9 in Sacramento, and it's not a term of endearment.
It's an occupation, a calling and a passion.
AHPA's mission is to promote the common interest and general welfare of the American honey producer.
Two representatives from the University of California, Davis, are among the speakers.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, will conduct a nosema workshop. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, will discuss "Honey Bee Genetic Diversity and Stock Importation Protocols."
Those are just a few of the topics. Others include:
- "EPA's Commitment to Protect The Honey Bee" by Steve Bradbury, EPA Deputy Director, Office of Pesticide Programs, Washington, D.C.
- "Why Do We Keep Losing Bees?: An Update on the Work at the Beltsville Bee Lab" by Judy Chen, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD.
- "Where Value Goes Beyond the Truck: What Every Beekeeper Should Know About Transporting Bees" by Richard Ericksrud, WC Freight LLC, New York Mills, Minn.
- "A New Breakthrough in Mite Treatments: Mite Away Quick Strips" by David Vanderdusen, NOD Apiary Products, Ontario, Canada
- "The Sierra Club: Working to Protect Pollinators (The Nicotine Bees Preview)" by Neil Carman, Sierra Club chemist, Austin, Texas
- "New Research on Small Hive Beetles, Management and Breeding Russian Honey Bees for Almond Pollination" by Tom Rinderer, research leader, USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, LA
Think of honey as not only nature's sweetener but something that can give you medical benefits.
Now that's a good way to start the year off right!
Hap-bee New Year!/span>
It's being hailed by environmental groups as "a victory for the bees."
A U.S. federal judge has ruled that the insecticide, spirotetramat, must be pulled from the shelves because it could be dangerously toxic to America's declining honey bee population.
Starting Jan. 15, 2010, it will be illegal for the insecticide, manufactured by Bayer CropScience under the trade names Movento and Ultor, to be sold in the United States.
What the federal court order does is invalidate EPA's approval of the use of the pesticide.
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote ruled that the EPA did not properly seek comments or publicize the review process. She called for further re-evaluation of the insecticide in compliance with the law.
Spirotetramat, which inhibits cell reproduction in insects, targets such sucking pests as aphids, whiteflies, scales, mealybugs, psylla, phylloxera, thrips, and mites.
Up to now, its registered uses, according to the 74-page EPA document, included a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as uses in greenhouses and nurseries. A few of them: citrus, grapes, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, onions, strawberries, stone fruits and livestock commodities.
The Xerces Society, an invertebrate conservation society based in Portland, Ore., and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization in New York, filed the suit as a means to protect bees.
Pesticides--along with diseases, viruses, parasites, pests, malnutrition and the changing weather--have been linked to colony collapse disorder, a mysterious malady in which adult bees abandon the colony, leaving behind the queen, brood and food stores.
"Save the bees" is a hue-and-cry being heard about the world. And rightfully so.
Bees, our little agricultural workers, pollinate about one-third of the food we eat. In the United States, bees pollinate $15 billion worth of plants every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Newly emerged bee