Backyard Orchard News
Bees buzz. People "Tweet."
Well, many people do.
It's generous of the Häagen-Dazs brand to donate $1 per Tweet (up to $500 per day) from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11 to support honey bee research at the University of California, Davis.
Häagen-Dazs, known for its superpremium ice cream and other desserts, is joining forces with ExperienceProject.com (EP), a San Francisco-based online community for sharing life experiences, to help the honey bees via EP’s TwitCause.
TwitCause, which EP launched in August, connects people with causes.
How can you do this--support UC Davis honey bee research by Tweeting?
“The easiest way for individuals to get involved is to visit www.twitcause.com,” said Erik Darby of EP. “There are directions on top of the page that detail how to follow, retweet, and make an impact around the honey bee cause on Twitter. Starting Thursday, Nov. 5, the designated TwitCause will be the Häagen Dazs Help-the-Honey-Bee campaign.”
“It’s an easy thing to do, and you don’t have to buy anything or send a letter to anyone,” said Tonya Iles, interactive manager for Häagen-Dazs.
Honey bees are responsible for the pollination of more than 100 crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, providing 80 percent of the country’s pollination services, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Häagen-Dazs (HD Loves HB, or Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees) is a strong supporter of honey bee research at UC Davis. About 50 percent of their ice cream flavors depend on bee pollination. HD supports the work of bee virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellow. HD also supports the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a newly planted half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The haven is a year-around food source for honey bees and an educational experience for visitors.
Bees were the original "social network," as Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, says
Now it's our turn to network.
Butterflies, honey bees and hover flies can't get enough of red buckwheat.
Tight clusters of pink blossoms, coupled with gray-green foliage, grace red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens), a California native.
It's good for the insects and good for the gardener. It's drought-tolerant.
We planted red buckwheat in our bee friendly yard several weeks ago, and among the first to find it were hover flies, aka flower flies.
Hover flies (family Syrphidae) hover over flowers like a sightseeing helicopter. Then they dip down and sip the nectar.
They're often mistaken for honey bees. Many an editor has published a photo of a "honey bee" that was in reality, a hover fly.
California buckwheat is one of the attractions in the newly planted Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It is serving as a year-around food source for bees and an educational opportunity for humans. A public celebration will take place next June.
Look for the buckwheat!
Looking for Nectar
Everything's coming up roses at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus.
Make that rose-haired tarantulas.
See, the Bohart not only houses some seven million insect specimens in its quarters in 1124 Academic Surge, but they have a few live ones, too.
Such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, praying mantids and rose-haired tarantulas.
The Bohart, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is one of our favorite places. You never know what you'll find.
We stopped by the museum last week and one of the Bohart student employees, Nanase Nakanishi, a UC Davis senior majoring in animal science, was caring for the occupants.
She and her colleagues were feeding the Madagascar hissing cockroaches, aka "hissers." While they were eating, Nanase picked up the rose hair, a favorite among budding entomologists and pet enthusiasts. On her red blouse, it looked like very much like a beautiful brooch. It's a soft, docile, gentle critter.
Nanase, who has worked at the Bohart for three years, feels very much at home there.
And, no wonder. Following graduation, she wants to study veterinary medicine and become a veterinarian.
Remember the ravenous light brown apple moth (LBAM) and all the controversy?
The invasive agricultural pest, from Down Under, soars high on the agenda at the Northern California Entomology Society’s meeting on Thursday, Nov. 5 in Concord. Also on the agenda: honey bee regulatory research.
The meeting, open to the public, will be held from 9:15 to 2:30 p.m. in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District office, 155 Mason Circle, Concord.
Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and secretary-treasurer of the society, said attendance at the meeting is free. The only fee is the $15 catered lunch.
In addition to LBAM and other exotic invasive pests, the meeting will include a talk on “Honey Bee Regulatory Research” by Mike Beevers of California Agriculture Research, Fresno.
“Mike is involved with research on the effects of pesticides on honey bees,” Mussen said. "Consideration of honey bees always has been important, but colony collapse disorder (CCD) has brought extreme attention to the possible consequences of bees becoming contaminated with insecticide residues, especially the ‘sublethal effects.’”
The meeting begins at 9:15 a.m. with registration and coffee.
9:30 a.m.: “Biological Control Agents for Light Brown Apple Moth,” Nick Mills of UC Berkeley
10:15 a.m.: “New Exotic Pests and Invasives of Regulatory Significance in California,” Kevin Hoffman, Plant Diagnostic Center, California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA)
11 a.m. “Responding to New California State Pests: Control Programs and Pesticide Products,” by Duane Schnabel, CDFA Pest Detection and Emergency Projects
11:45 a.m.: Annual business meeting, with election of new president
12 Noon: Catered lunch by Kinder’s Custom Meats ($15 per person, reservations required with Eric Mussen)
1:15: “Update on Light Brown Apple Moth Eradication Program,” by Laura Irons of CDFA’s Light Brown Apple Moth Program
2 p.m.: “Honey Bee Regulatory Research” by Mike Beevers, California Agriculture, Fresno
Those planning to attend should contact Mussen at (530) 752-0472 or e-mail him at email@example.com. For those needing continuing education hours in Laws and Regulations, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, this meeting will satisfy three hours, he said.
The Nor Cal society membership is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons. Susan Sawyer of the Pest Detection/Emergency Projects, CDFA, has served as president for the last two years.
The society meets the first Thursday in February; the first Thursday in May and the first Thursday in November. Membership dues are $10 year.
Male Light Brown Apple Moth
Female Light Brown Apple Moth
The "honey bee reproductive ground plan" hypothesis that originated two dec
Page, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and now founding director of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, and his collaborator Gro Amdam, are featured in the Oct. 23rd edition of Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Writing in the behavior ecology section in an article headlined, "Sex and Social Structure," journalist Elizabeth Pennisi related that the scientists' research "has shown that reproductive traits help shape a honey bee worker's role in life and that ovaries are active players in the process-even if they play little role in reproduction in worker bees."
The specialized tasks "have their basis in what Amdam and Page call a reproductive ground plan," she wrote. Their work has provided a framework and tools to study division of labor, which now "converges on two genes that may explain both ovary size and behavior."
Page and Amdam, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences and Norwegian University of Life Sciences, believe that genes and hormones likely control social roles as well as longevity.
Their research centers on the role of the ovary in honey bee colonies, and how the worker bees partition the labor of the colony with duties that include rearing young bees, constructing the nest, foraging for pollen and nectar, and processing the food.
Page, a pioneer in the field of evolutionary genetics and social behavior of bees, has long marveled at how highly social bees are. Worker bees, or infertile females, instinctively divide up their roles to run the hive, freeing the queen to lay eggs.
The worker bees serve as nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, architects, builders, foragers, guards and undertakers.
But why are some colonies high-pollen collectors and hoarders, while others aren't?
His research on high and low pollen hoarding strains that began two decades led to the "reproductive ground plan" hypothesis. Page continues to keep his specialized bee stock, managed by bee breeder-geneticist M. Kim Fondrk, at UC Davis.
This is exciting research.
As Page told us: "The reproductive ground plan research is integrating developmental biology into insect sociobiology. It is completing the synthesis by looking for the signatures of levels of selection above the organism, at the level of the genes, physiology, and embryogenesis. It is substantiating the superorganism."
UC Davis is the hub for the development and maintenance of the high and low pollen hoarding strains of bees "that have been fundamental in testing the reproductive ground plan hypothesis and understanding how selection on colonies affects different levels of biological organization from genes to societies," he said.
Page, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, retired from UC Davis in 2004 to develop the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Page and Amdam are the co-principal investigators on a federally funded project directed by UC Davis entomology professor James R. Carey. Carey directs the Biodemographic Determinants of Lifespan, a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging-funded program involving scientists from UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, Stanford and seven other academic institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Greece.See more information on the UC Davis Entomology Web site.
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