Posts Tagged: honey bees
The next time you're around a lamb's ear--no, not the animal, the plant (Stachys byzantina)--watch for buzzing bees.
Especially the European wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum). The females card the fuzz from the soft, silvery-gray leaves for their nests. Both the males and females sip nectar from the blossoms.
The males are quite territorial and bodyslam honey bees and other foraging insects. They're trying to save the sweet nectar for the females and mate with them.
It was windy this morning in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It didn't seem to bother the patrolling European wool carder bees. But their presence--and the body slams--bothered the honey bees.
The haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is open from dawn to dusk. There is no admission.
European wool carder bee nectaring on Lamb's Ear. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of European wool carder bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bees are quite distinguishable from European wool carder bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is installing mosaic ceramic panels on cement planters at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis central campus.
Diane Ullman and Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and their associate, professional mosaic ceramic artist Mark Rivera of Davis, began installing the work, titled “Life in the Hive,” on Thursday, May 30.
The newest addition joins two other mosaic ceramic-paneled plants. One showcases honey bees and bee friendly gardening, and the other focuses on plants and alternative pollinators, such as butterflies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, blue orchard bees, and metallic green sweat bees.
Students in the Entomology 1 class, taught by Diane Ullman, associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and professor of entomology, and self-described “rock artist” Donna Billick, created the panels on all three of the once-barren cement planters.
The latest addition, “Life in the Hive,” is the work of the spring-quarter Entomology 1 class. The students will gather in the haven on Saturday, June 1, to complete the installation. They will then discuss their work at a special event from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 4 in the haven.
“Life in the Hive,” lettered with “Honey Bee Haven” and “Häagen Dazs,” depicts the life cycle of the worker bee, queen bee, and drone. It also features a waggle dance, the queen bee and her retinue, and a newly emerged queen bee stinging and killing a competing queen ready to emerge from a cell. The art also depicts nurse bees, undertakers and foragers.
Another panel shows a “before” and “after” person: "before" when he was deathly frightened of bees, and "after," when he developed an appreciation for them.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 1997, helps students reach across disciplines to learn science through art, and art through science, Ullman said. Each course focuses on key areas of biology, physics or environmental science and expressive art media, including ceramics, graphics, textiles, photography, poetry and music.
The haven is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and is designed to (1) raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and (2) to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it is located just a few yards from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. For guided tours (nominal fee involved), the contact person is Christine Casey at email@example.com.
Multiple hands at work on the mosaic ceramic panels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Artists Diane Ullman and Mark Rivera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This art depicts "before" and "after": "before" when the man was deathly afraid of bees, and "after," when he developed admiration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The life cycle of the honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Artists Donna Billick, Diane Ullman and Mark Rivera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What a match--honey bees and pomegranate blossoms.
Watching the golden bees forage amid the brilliant red blossoms in the late afternoon is a delight to see, especially when the sun backlights them.
The ancient fruit, native to Iran, is one of the world's first cultivated fruits. Thankfully, it is now "trendy" in California, with some 30,000 acres of pomegranates in production. We treasure its ruby-red kernels, tart flavor, and high antioxidant content. Since ancient times, the fruit has symbolized health and fertility. It's been said that Adam and Eve weren't tempted by an apple in the Garden of Eden, but by a pomegranate. In Egypt, the pomegranate was known as "The Fruit of Kings."
Spanish settlers introduced the pomegranate tree to California in 1769. The honey bees came later: 1853.
But when you think about it, honey bees and pomegranates have been together for millions of years--just not in California.
The pomegranate tree in our yard is 86 years old and has seen generations of bees come and go.
A promenade in the pomegranates...
A backlit honey bee heads for a pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Caught in flight, a honey bee makes a beeline to a pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The nectar of the gods. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Where do foraging bees go to die?"
That question was asked this week of honey bee guru Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who serves as the statewide Extension apiculturist.
"Do they return to the hive? Do they retire and live out their last days inside?" he was asked.
We've all seen worker bees in the throes of death. After all, they live only four to six weeks in the busy season. But the queen bee, which can lay some 2000 eggs a day, quickly replaces them.
"Since we do not know exactly where they go, we say that they fly off in the final moments of life, lose altitude and land on whatever is beneath them, moribund," Mussen says. "They are still able to sting for quite a few minutes, as can be attested to by neighbors who find moribund bees in their lawns or swimming pools, but they die relatively soon. Bees have enzyme systems that deal with flight and when the enzymes give out, so does flight."
Mussen points out that "a few of the dying bees, maybe 15 or so, of the 1,000 or more that die daily (in a colony) during the spring, summer, and fall, do die in--or in front of--the hive."
When those bodies lose some moisture, the "undertaker bees" carry away the lighter-weight bodies and drop them 150 feet or more away from the hive, studies show. "Most of the rest just drop, somewhere, when they no longer can forage or stay in the air," Mussen says. "Bees do fly up to four miles from the hive in any compass direction, so they drop out there in that 50-square mile area."
A worker bee staggers and extends her tongue. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This honey bee died soon after this photo was taken. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"For many years, beekeepers and environmentally interested individuals have expressed the opinion that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides ("neonics") have interfered with the ability of honey bees and native bees to conduct their life activities properly," begins Extension apicuturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology in his latest edition of his newsletter, from the UC Apiaries.
"Since laboratory studies have detailed the disruptive effect on those insects, it was suggested that the same things were happening in the field. Unanticipated losses of formerly strong honey bee colonies, and easily observable decreases in bumble bee sightings, correlated well with increased use of neonics."
Mussen goes on to talk about the neonic situation in Europe and what the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has to say about the controversial issue. EFSA concluded that the neonicotinoid pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honey bees, but that a definitive connection between the chemicals and loss of colonies in the field remained to be established, Mussen wrote.
Mussen, California's only Cooperative Extension apiculturist and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1976, says the situation is not that simple. Read why. His newsletter is available free on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website. Access his web page and then click on "March/April 2013."
Honey bee heading for a catmint (Nepeta) patch. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)