Backyard Orchard News
What a treasure!
Have you seen the Xerces Society's new online Pollinator Conservation Resource Center?
This is something that's long been needed. It's a wealth of information--that's why it's a treasure.
As Matthew Shepherd of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation says: "...the resource center gives access to all you need to complete a pollinator conservation project in any region of the United States. When you visit the resource center, select your region from the map to access plant lists, details of creating and managing nest sites, pesticide protection guides, and practical guidance on planning and implementing habitat projects on farmlands, gardens, golf courses, parks, and wildlands."
"We want the resource center to be the most comprehensive source of pollinator conservation information currently online and will update it as often as we can, adding new materials as they become available."
Shepherd says the resource center is "the result of a collaboration with Neal Williams of the University of California, Davis. In particular, we thank Katharina Ullmann, previously with the Xerces Society and now a member of Neal Williams' research group, for gathering many of the resources."
Among the others lending their expertise: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who maintains an office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
How easy is it to use this site?
Say, for example, you want to plant a bee friendly garden. All you do is click on a link and you'll know what to plant seasonally in your area and what each plant will attract. Then you can click on the various pollinators to see what they look like.
If this Web site were gold, it would be in Fort Knox.
Female sweat bee
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).