Backyard Orchard News
Pest management. Pain management.
Early in his career, entomologist Bruce Hammock, now a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis and a newly selected fellow of the Entomological Society of America, probed regulating the development of insect larvae.
Now his interests swing toward pain management, including inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
His is truly a case of "from the bench to the bedside."
Today two UC Davis labs--including Hammock's--and a lab from Peking University, China published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that is sure to offer hope down the road for those suffering from arthritis pain.
The scientists found a novel mechanism as to why the long-term, high-dosage use of the well-known arthritis pain medication, Vioxx, led to heart attacks and strokes. Their groundbreaking research, done with rodents, may pave the way for a safer drug for millions of arthritis patients who suffer acute and chronic pain.
“This is a major breakthrough that can lead to a better medication for people suffering from acute pain,” said Hammock, who has a joint appointment at the UC Davis Cancer Center.
The Hammock lab and two others labs--the lab of cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and physiologist Yi Zhu, Peking University--used metabolomic profiling to analyze murine (rodent) plasma. They discovered that Vioxx causes a dramatic increase in a regulatory lipid that could be a major contributor to the heart attacks and strokes associated with high levels of the drug and other selective COX-2 inhibitors, known as “coxibs.”
“Our metabolomics study discovered that 20-hydroxyeicosatetrasanoic acid, also known as 20-HETE, contributes to the Vioxx-mediated cardiovascular events,” said UC Davis bioanalytical chemist Jun-Yan Liu, the senior author of the paper and a five-year member of the Bruce Hammock laboratory.
Millions of arthritis patients took Vioxx before its withdrawal from the global market in 2004. Vioxx, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and coxib for acute and chronic pain, particularly for arthritis and osteoarthritis, was on the market for five years. Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew it in September 2004 due to concerns about the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The chronic administration of high levels of selective COX-2 inhibitors, particularly rofecoxib, and valdecoxib, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, Liu said.
Urologist Ralph devere White, professor of urology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Cancer Center, described the research as “extremely exciting.”
“Vioxx and other drugs in this class were looked on as extremely promising in moderation,” devere White said. “The fact that the Hammock lab discovered why the drug could lead to heart attacks and strokes and is able to quantify the deleterious facts is extremely exciting. I hope that patients can safely use this drug in the future or block the deleterious effects so it will have all of the benefits and none of the adverse side effects.”
Nationally, some 46 million individuals suffer from arthritis. “And almost one million patients are admitted to hospitals every year because of their arthritis,” Hammock said. “They do need effective and safer drugs to relieve their pain.”
This research (see the UC Davis Department of Entomology website) will undoubtedly open up new strategies to develop safer coxibs.
There are more than just honey bees in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.
Think butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, metallic sweat bees, carpenter bees, hover flies, tachinid flies, wasps, praying mantids and what not. Such diversity in insects and plants! And to think that two years ago, this was an open field covered with bindweed.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the grand opening of the honey bee haven, which is a half-acre bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The celebration, set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include speakers, garden tours, children's arts and crafts, and scores of other activities.
The question we're asked the most is: How do we get there?
From the Sacramento Area: Take Interstate 80 westbound to Highway 113 north. At the eastern edge of Davis, take Highway 113 northbound (toward Woodland); exit at Hutchison Drive. Turn left to go west (away from the central UC Davis campus), toward the campus airport; turn left onto Hopkins Road and then left on Bee Biology Road.
From the San Francisco Bay Area: Take Interstate 80 eastbound to Highway 113 north. At the eastern edge of Davis, take Highway 113 northbound (toward Woodland); exit at Hutchison Drive. Turn left to go west (away from the central UC Davis campus), toward the campus airport; turn left onto Hopkins Road and then left on Bee Biology Road.
You can also access the campus map; select "Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility" from the pulldown menu. The site is about a mile from the Hutchinson exit.
The second most commonly asked question: Is the garden open year-around? Yes, it is. Come visit. Bring your camera, a pen and a notepad. You'll want to take photos of the beautiful art work (gigantic bee sculpture and beehive columns) permanently displayed in the haven. The plants are labeled so you can decide what you want to plant in your own yard to attract pollinators.
Oh, and there's no charge.
No charge for the bees, butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, metallic sweat bees, carpenter bees, hover flies, tachinid flies, wasps and praying mantids, either!
Well, maybe we ought to charge the praying mantids!
Bee on a coneflower
Now they are thinking inside and outside the hive.
Visitors to the grand opening celebration of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, will see two columns of bee hives or “bee boxes” gracing the entrance to the half-acre bee friendly garden, located at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
“They’re fantastic,” said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey. “They’re beyond fantastic—the art work is awesome. Not only is the quality of artwork highly impressive, the coverage and accuracy of the honey bee life cycle and activities depicted are extremely well done.”
Cobey is right. They are amazingly bee-utiful.
The colorfully painted bee hives are the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by Ullman and Billick. Ullman is an entomology professor and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs at the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, and Billick is a noted artist who holds a bachelor’s degree in genetics and a master’s degree in fine arts.
Dalrymple, a UC Davis entomology graduate student, served as the teachers’ assistant for the program’s Graphics and Communications Studio section.
As part of their research, the students enrolled in the class visited the Laidlaw facility, learning about bees from Cobey and staff research associate-beekeeper Elizabeth Frost.
“From my view, watching this come together has been a highlight, as the students asked their numerous questions seeking accuracy and sought the experience of opening a colony and observing bees in their numerous duties,” Cobey said. “The delight and amazement of students holding a frame of brood, watching a new bee emerge from her cell, feed larvae or pack in pollen for first time, is also is a thrill for me.”
Each sculpture is stacked with seven real bee hives, so real that curious Laidlaw bees try to enter them. One column depicts life inside the hive, and the other column, life outside the hive. Among the images: a queen bee laying eggs, nurse maids caring for the brood, and foragers collecting nectar, pollen, propolis and water.
The half-acre bee friendly garden, open year around at no charge, includes a 6-foot-long honey bee, created by Billick and funded by Wells Fargo. It's a worker bee appropriately placed beneath an almond tree.
Ceramic tiles on the bench below the bee were created by undergraduate students in a freshmen seminar for Davis Honors Challenge students; community members; and sixth grade students at Korematsu Elementary School, Davis.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, once said that the honey bee haven is sure to become "a campus destination."
She "bee" right.
(See this web page for more information on the grand opening.)
Raising the Box
Ever notice how the coloring of the wool carder bee resembles a yellowjacket and European paper wasp?
Talk about capitalizing on the colors.
Carder bees, so named because they card the fuzz or down from leaves to make their nests, are black and yellow. They buzz around like bees and are approximately the same size.
Carder bees, yellowjackets and paper wasps are all members of the order Hymenoptera, one of the largest orders of insects with some 130,000 described species--and many others undescribed. Also in the order: bees, sawflies and ants.
Some of these relatives you wouldn't want at your picnic.
European paper wasp
There are "bees" and there are "flies."
And then there are "bee flies."
Bee flies? They're so named because they look somewhat like bees. Order: Diptera. Family: Bombyliidae.
We spotted a single bee fly, as identified by UC Davis forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, foraging on our sedum yesterday. Like a bee, it's a pollinator; the adult bee fly feeds on nectar and pollen. Entomologists estimate there are some 4500 described species of bee flies throughout the world, varying in size from 4 to 40mm.
In the larval stages, they are parasitoids; the adult bee fly lays her eggs in the nests of wasps, beetles or solitary bees. Then the larvae ungraciously thank their hosts by eating them.
This large bee fly (below) apparently found the nectar to its liking. It lumbered from flower to flower sipping nectar.
The honey bees, hover flies and leafcutter bees all scrambled to avoid a collision.
Sip of Nectar