Backyard Orchard News
With the opening of baseball season, it's "peanuts, popcorn and Cracker Jacks!"
But to beekeepers, it's peanuts.
Or rather, peanut-like shells.
Immature queen bees grow to maturity in cells that resemble peanut shells.
When UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, led a recent queen-bee rearing class on a tour of commercial queen bee producers, one of the stops was at C. F. Koehnen & Sons, Inc., Glenn, Calif.
The Koehnens, in the bee business since 1907, are the largest producers of honey bees and queen bees in California. They maintain more than 15,000 colonies. The Cobey class marveled at the operation.
A beekeeper held a frame up to the sky as worker bees cleaned out the vacated queen bee cells.
Not your basic goober peas!
ROWS OF QUEEN BEE CELLS are framed against the blue sky. This photo was taken at the apiary of C. F. Koehnen & Sons, Inc., Glenn, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
BUSY WORKER BEES are cleaning out the queen bee cells, once occupied by growing queen bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A baby hooded praying mantis is among the new residents of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academc Surge, on the UC Davis campus.
It's a Rhombodera basalis or Giant Malayasian Shield Mantis and is a gift from a teacher in Elk Grove.
"It will grow to be about three inches long," said Brian Turner, the Bohart's outreach coordinator. It prefers warm, wet climates.
Visitors to the Bohart Museum can check out the hooded praying mantis during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 18.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. The museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, houses more than seven million specimens, making it the seventh largest insect collection in North America. The worldwide collection also includes the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of California’s deserts, mountains, coast and great central valley.
Hooded Praying Mantis
If you want to create art that's bound to be a conversation piece, you need to head over to Briggs Hall at the
April 18 is the 95th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, a campuswide event that showcases, the organizers say, "the richness and diversity of campus life."
Make that "the richness and diversity of insects," too.
Briggs Hall, home of the Department of Entomology since 1972, is where bugs rule.
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O’Flaherty, a doctoral candidate in entomology, will be there with her free “Maggot Art” event.
She’ll provide the maggots, non-toxic paint, and paper. Your job is to pick up a maggot with specially designed larval forceps, dip it in paint (your choice of colors), place it on white paper, and let the maggot do its thing--which is to crawl across the paper. Voila! Maggot Art.
It’s one-of-a-kind art suitable for framing or posting on the refrigerator. Your Aunt Gertrude will be proud.
Maggot Art is actually the educational teaching curriculum that O'Flaherty coined and trademarked in 2001 while she was studying entomology at the
Since 2001, she’s taught thousands of students the “art of Maggot Art” in the classroom, while also providing information about blow flies. She's a skilled Maggot Art artist herself. In 2007, she coordinated a Maggot Art Show at the Capital Athletic Club, Sacramento, with colleagues and fellow artists Brandi Schmitt and Charlotte Wacker.
Maggot Art has been a tradition at Picnic Day since 2003. Kids usually love it, but that's not always true for adults. The "yecch" factor sometimes kicks in, she admits.
O'Flaherty's major professor, forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, who chairs the Department of Entomology's Picnic Day celebration, estimates that the "bug events" at Briggs draw 3,000 people.
Maggot Art, Termite Trails, Cockroach Races and Honey Tasting are just a few of the events that will be offered at Briggs Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Bugs rule. They do, indeed.
Combining Art and Science
Irving Berlin wasn't writing about carpenter bees when he penned "Easter Bonnet":
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade
However, if you watch carpenter bees move from flower to flower as they gather nectar, you're bound to see one with its head inside a blossom.
An Easter bonnet, to be sure.
I captured this image of a carpenter bee visiting a California native wildflower, "Bird's Eyes" or "Bird's-Eye Gilia" (Gilia tricolor), on the UC Davis campus. It's aptly named. It's a light lavender and purple tubular flower with a yellow throat and powder-blue stamens.
If you built it (a field of dreams), they will come.
And if you bring flowers, that's all the bettter.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and a strong proponent of bee friendly plants, brought salvia, lavender (Otto Quast Spanish lavender) and some stalked bulbine (Bulbine frutescens) to a television interview today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Darsha Philips and camerman Andrew Faulk of Fox 40, Sacramento were there to interview her along with Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a 32-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty..
Missy Borel placed the three potted plants atop a hive while waiting for the interview. It didn't take long for the honey bees to find the unexpected treat! They lavished the lavender, salivated over the salvia, and stalked the stalked bulbine.
Meanwhile, concern about the declining honey bee population continues. A third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Bee nutrition has never been so important. The bees are seeking nectar, pollen and water to bring back to their hives.
Want to select bee friendly plants for your garden? Missy Borel compiled this list during the Haagen-Daz Honey Bee Haven Design Competition. (See pages 7, 8 and 9 of the PDF). See more information on the winning design on the UC Davis Entomology Web site. The new garden will be located next to all the hives at the Laidlaw facility.
When the half-acre bee haven is completed, the bees won't have far to go to gather nectar and pollen all year around. Look for the dedication sometime in October.
The Bee Man
Bee on Lavender
Bee Friendly Plants