Backyard Orchard News
Meet Kelly Liebman and Wei Xu.
They're graduate students and mosquito researchers in the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, who just received the 2009 William Hazeltine Memorial Research Fellowship Awards.
Liebman, a dengue researcher in the lab of medical entomologist-professor Thomas Scott, received $1800, and Wei Xu, a malaria researcher in the lab of chemical ecologist-professor Walter Leal, received $1000.
Both are working toward their doctorate degrees.
Liebman, currently in Peru, is studying the human blood-feeding patterns of the Aedes aegypti mosquito in the Amazonian city of Iquitos, a city with all four dengue virus serotypes.
“Over the past three decades, dengue virus (DENV) as emerged as one of the most important arthropod-borne viral infections of humans, causing as many as 50 million infections worldwide each year,” Liebman wrote in her application. “The mosquito vector of DENV, Aedes aegypti, is exceedingly efficient because it feeds frequently and almost exclusively on humans.”
Liebman received her master’s degree in public health from Yale University and her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Xu’s research targets malaria, a parasitic disease which kills more than one million people and infects some 500 million a year. Ninety percent of malaria-related deaths occur in Africa, but the disease is also found in tropical and subtropical parts of Asia and the Americas.
Xu, whose work involves chemical ecology, or how insects detect smells, received his bachelor’s degree in microbiology and his master’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from Zhongshan University, China.
The award memorializes William “Bill” Hazeltine (1926-1994), He managed the Lake County Mosquito Abatement District from 1961-64 and the Butte County Mosquito Abatement District from 1966-1992. He continued work on related projects until his death in 1994.
He was an ardent supporter of the judicious use of public health pesticides to protect public health.
Hazeltine studied entomology in the UC Berkeley graduate program, 1950-53, and received his doctorate in entomology from Purdue University in 1962.
Eldridge's eulogy offers insight into the life and work of Bill Hazeltine, "a man who made a difference."
"He was a medical entomologist who had a varied career in the field of mosquito biology and control," Eldridge said, "but he will forever be remembered as a man who fought in the trenches of the pesticide controversy from roughly 1960 until the end of his life, and who made the safe and efficient use of pesticides in public health a personal crusade."
You can read about the fascinating life of William Hazeltine in this PDF.
His passion and commitment live on through the student research fellowships that bear his name.
The cold, blustery storm that swept over Northern California over the last two weeks wiped out the rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) and with it the "meeting place" of assorted insects: honey bees, leafcutter bees, ladybugs, bumble bees, potter wasps, et al.
But last August we spotted a male leafcutting bee, Megachile sp., on the rock purslane. Nearby, a redbud tree showed evidence of a "been there-done that" female leafcutter. She had trimmed a little off the edge of the leaf for her solitary ground nest. Leafcutter bees, as their name implies, cut leaves for their nests.
That's a good sign.
It is so important to provide bee friendly gardens for our pollinators, such as honey bees, bumble bees and leafcutter bees. Their survival, in many ways, depends on us.
To encourage them, plant bee friendly gardens, provide nesting sites and refrain from using pesticides.
Speaking of native bees, leafcutting bees are among those featured on the soon-to-be-mailed calendar sponsored by the non-profit Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project and assembled by Bay Area native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin, with photographs by entomologist-insect photographer Rollin Coville, also of the Bay Area. The deadline to order the native bee calendar closed Nov. 30 (however, a few--a very few--may still be available from the sponsors).
Meanwhile, those of who us treasured the native bees in our gardens last spring and summer will treasure this calendar all year around.
This is a bee that cuts it.
The Mafia has its Good Fellas.
The Entomological Society of America (ESA) has its Fellows, too.
And they're not just "good"--they're excellent.
Every year ESA singles out up to 10 members from the 6000-member organization for the Fellow Award, paying tribute to their outstanding contributions in research, teaching, extension or administration.
This year one of the 10 selected is chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. He is internationally recognized for his pioneering and innovative work in insect olfaction, or how insects detect smells.
He'll receive the Fellow award on Sunday at the ESA's meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana.Leal is one of 11 UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty to receive the award since 1947:
1947: Richard M. Bohart (for whom the Bohart Museum of Entomology is named)
1990: Donald McLean
1991: Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (for whom the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility is named)
1994: John Edman
1996: Robert Washino
2001: Bruce Eldridge
2004: William Reisen
2007: Harry Kaya
2008: Michael Parella and Frank Zalom
This year's list of ESA Fellows not only includes Leal from UC Davis, but Brian Federici and Alexander Raikhel of UC Riverside.
Three from the UC system--that's a three insect-net salute!
Want to learn how to rear high-quality queen bees?
Want to learn instrumental insemination of queen bees?
It's all about improving stock.
“Major advances in agriculture are due to stock improvement, and this also applies to honey bees,” Cobey said. "With the increasing challenges of beekeeping today, the selection of honey bee stocks that are productive, gentle and show some resistance to pests and diseases is critical to the future health of the beekeeping industry, agriculture and our food supply.”
Due to popular demand, Cobey is teaching two one-day workshops on "The Art of Queen Rearing" in the spring. The March 31 class will be geared toward sideline beekepers and the April 7th class, toward commercial beekeepers. The classes are designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of what it takes to rear high-quality queens.
Cobey will present basic biology and principles of queen rearing. Beekeepers will be involved in the various steps of the process including setting up cell builders, grafting, handling queen cells and establishing mating nucs.
One of the highlights of the "Art of Queen Rearing" workshop is the daylong tour (optional) to see large-scale commercial queen production in northern California. The students will visit several companies. The tours will take place the day after each workshop (specifically April 1 and April 8).
You won't find anyone more passionate about honey bees than Susan Cobey.
Cobey, a bee breeder-geneticist and manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, has just received the California State Beekeepers' Association's 2009 Distinguished Service Award.
And rightfully so.
Cobey, who accepted the award at the group’s recent conference in San Diego, drew praise for improving stock; teaching advanced beekeeping courses on queen bee rearing and instrument insemination; and pushing to develop import protocol to diversify the U.S. honey bee populations.
Her courses on queen bee rearing and instrument insemination draw students from throughout the world. She'll be teaching more courses in the spring, starting March 31.In introducing the recipient--kept as a surprise--beekeeper Bob Miller of Watsonville started out with: “This person has been involved with beekeeping since earning a degree in entomology in 1976. From that point on, this person has engaged in commercial beekeeping activities, became a lab technician, and has developed a line of queen bees that show increasing levels of resistance to pests and diseases. She has traveled the world to find promising characteristics and improve that stock. She has taught many classes on queen rearing and artificial insemination with the emphasis on closed populations to enhance the particular line of queens.”
"Sue has been described to me as a casual, sweet person, with a receptive and tolerant attitude," Miller told the crowd.
He couldn't gather much personal information.
"Her friends decline to provide me with stories about her," he said.
One has only to watch her tend her bees to know what Susan Cobey is all about. "Girls, where's your mother?" she asks as she opens a hive, searching for the queen.
When she teaches her stock improvement classes (she's a world authority on instrument insemination), Cobey combines hands-on training with individual attention. "Does that answer your question?" she'll ask.
When beekeepers call her at her UC Davis office or stop by, she responds readily. No wonder that earlier this year she received the Western Apicultural Society's "Outstanding Service to Beekeeping Award" and a UC Davis "Citation for Excellence."
Her passion for honey bees not only drives her but defines her. Mix it with dedication and expertise and there you have it: the recipient of a statewide distinguished service award to the beekeeping industry.And yes, her name is pronounced "Co-bee."