Backyard Orchard News
They're called "wonder flies."
And for a good reason.
Folks wonder what they are. As native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says: "We non-Dipterists often refer to these flies as 'wonder flies' since most of us wonder what these tiny diverse flies are."
We recently spotted these "wonder flies" in Napa sharing a squash blossom with honey bees.
Flies are pollinators, too!
If you wonder about these flies, check out BugGuide.Net, where entomologists and others congregate to share "observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures."
Its stance is firm. Its eyes glow menacingly. Its attitude: "Don't mess with me."
We spotted this katydid on a rose in a UC Davis rose garden. It towered over the honey bees, spotted cucumber beetles, ladybugs, hover flies, and assorted other insects.
The katydid, in the family Tettigonlidae, is also known as a long-horned grasshopper, but entomologists point out it's more closely related to crickets than grasshoppers.
Tettigoniids dine on flowers, leaves, bark and seed, and some feed on other insects.
Now if the katydid were six feet tall...that would scare any trick-or-treater...
A gigantic bee sculpture and bee hive columns are major attractions at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of the California, Davis.
The grand opening of the half-acre bee friendly garden took place Sept. 11 but the garden is open year around at no charge. Located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, it is proving to be a major campus destination.
The key goals of the haven are to provide a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees; to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own; and to serve as a research site.
Noted artist Donna Billick created the six-foot-long sculpture, "Miss Bee Haven," located beneath an almond tree. The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program provided the ceramic tiles around the bench and the bee hive columns.
Billick and entomologist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-direct the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, serves as the associate dean for Undergraduate Academic Programs, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
Plans are in the works for more art from the Art/Science Fusion Program to bee-utify this bee friendly garden.
Bee Hive Column
There's a magnificent purple aster blooming in the bee yard at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
The aster, a late-bloomer, makes for a picture-perfect apiary scene...white bee boxes in the background...purple aster in the foreground...and the sounds of bees buzzing among the flowers.
In reality, the bees are gearing up for winter, but on this sunny day, autumn mimics spring.
Meanwhile, there's an administrative buzz in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, too. The department is recruiting for an assistant professor/apiculturist.
The research focus of this position will center on investigations pertaining to honey bees (Apis mellifera) and their role in pollinating California’s $6 billion honey bee-dependent crops, according to Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. Possible research areas include behavior, genetics, ecology, pathology, physiology/immunology, microbiology, nutrition, toxicology, and parasitology of honey bees.
The call is out. The beginning review date is set (Dec. 1) and a bee specialist is expected to be in place by July 1, 2011.
Hear that buzz?
Bee on purple aster
Do bees stop and smell the roses?
Maybe. Honey bees gather nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers, including their favorites, the salvias, mints and lavenders. They also forage on wild roses, but usually not on commercially grown roses.
Sometimes, however, you'll see a honey bee tucked in the folds of rose petals or "resting" on a rose. Ah, the sweet smell of roses!
The quote, "Stop and smell the roses," is often attributed to golfer Walter Hagen in the 1956 book "The Walter Hagen Story" but he didn't mention roses. The quote: "You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."
Do worker bees stop and smell the roses?
For sure, bees are here for only a short while. Worker bees generally live four to six weeks. During the busy season, a 60,000-member colony will lose some 1000 workers a day, says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. The queen bee replaces them by laying 1000 to 2000 eggs a day.
All that work to build up the colony...then poof! their lives end.
Well, maybe they stop and rest on the roses.
Hide and Seek