Backyard Orchard News
This is part of the Wednesday spring seminars sponsored by the UC Department of Entomology. Host will be Marcel Rejmanek, professor of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis.
Folks can listen live by accessing this link. Later the Webcast will be archived on the UC Davis Department of Entomology Web site for easy retrieval.
"My main area of interest is ecology and evolutionary ecology of insect herbivores, especially in rainforest ecosystems," Novotny says. "I am particularly interested in local and regional patterns of tropical insect diversity, organization of plant-insect food webs, and plant-insect interactions. Further, I am also interested in practical problems of biological surveys, biodiversity conservation, environmental education and training of indigenous tropical ecologists."
While here, Novotny will meet with faculty and graduate students.
"If you have not read Professor Novotny's book Notebooks from New Guinea, it is definitely worth reading!" said host Rejmanek in an e-mail.
Oxford University Press published the book last May. It's officially titled Notebooks from New Guinea: Field Notes of a Tropical Biologist.
Reviewers consider Novotny a world-class researcher and a brilliant writer.
Reviewer and ecologist Francis Q. Brearley of the Manchester Metropolitan University, wrote last October in Higher Times Education:
"The big question framing the research of Czech entomologist Vojtech Novotny is that of why there are so many species of insects in tropical rainforests. His investigations, for the past decade, have focused on the tropical forests of Papua New Guinea, a land of incredible diversity and contrasts. Notebooks from New Guinea is presented as a series of short chapters of sociopolitical musings, anecdotes, adventures and misadventures in Papua, New Guinea, and details some of the unique challenges facing researchers who have chosen to work there."
Tune in Wednesday for a close look at New Guinea and an even closer look at a scientist whose research, quick wit and candor bring it all together.
in the Rain Forest
This spectacular plant attracts bees like a honey-laden hive does hungry bears.
The tower of jewels (Echium wildprettii), native to the Canary Islands, is a biennal; it flowers only in the second year and then dies. So, for the first year, it looks quite insignificant. The second year: it shoots up an amazing nine or 10 feet, ablaze with blossoms the color of rubies.
If you ever see a tower of jewels blooming, you'll remember it. One bloomed last year in the Storer Garden in the UC Davis Arboretum. it drew scores of visitors toting cameras.
The same will hold true when several towers bloom next year in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
Visitors to the haven will see the "tiny" Echiums during the public opening on Sept. 11. They won't see the regal beauty unfold until 2011.
Meanwhile, we're savoring the three towers in our own bee friendly garden. So are the honey bees, hover flies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
The scouts (bees) arrive as soon as the temperature hits 50 degrees. Then they head back to their hives to alert the foragers. You can almost hear them Waggle-Dancing: "Fine quality, large quantity--hurry, hurry!" By mid-morning, the towers are abuzz with bees. By mid-afternoon, the bees sound like jet engines.
A tower of bees.
HONEY BEE zeroes in on a ruby-red blossom. (Copyrighted Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
LADY IN RED--A honey bee amid the bright red blossoms of the tower of jewels. Note the blue-gray pollen from the plant on her leg. (Copyrighted Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
BLUE SKIES, red blossoms, busy bees. A honey bee heads for a tower of jewels. (Copyrighted Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's amazing what a little Photoshopping can do to a bee on blue.
We captured an image this week of a pollen-packing honey bee on Phacelia campanularia, also known as California blue bells or desert blue bells.
It's a deep inky-blue wildflower that's native to southwestern deserts of California. It's planted in a wildflower patch behind the Sciences Laboratory Building on the UC Davis campus. There it mingles with the white-petalled yellow tidy tips and other wildflowers.
We ran the image through "poster edges" of Photoshop and voila! It's even more inky blue.
Maybe that's what the bee sees.
Bee on Blue
The half-acre garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven planted last fall at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, is not only bee friendly but it will be art friendly.
At the entrance to the garden will be a two-column sculpture of decorated bee boxes; the first column depicting activity within the hive, and the second column depicting activity outside the hive.
Outside the hive? Think workers gathering nectar, pollen, propolis and water.
A hexagonal block beneath a sturdy almond tree in the garden will hold a giant bee sculpture--yes, let's put the beleagured honey bee on a pedestal! Ceramic art panels will adorn the sides. Billick is creating the giant bee sculpture. The Ullman-Billick classes are providing the rest of the art in the garden.
Bee friendly, art friendly, people friendly.
The haven will be a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and an educational experience for visitors, who can learn the plight of the honey bee and the importance of having bees in our gardens. Plus, visitors will glean ideas on what to plant in their own gardens to attract pollinators.
The public celebration is in its early planning stages, but the date is set and all systems are green:
Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010.
View of the garden
Talk about pollen power.
When honey bees forage among the bird’s eyes, they're a delight to see. They dive into the yellow-throated lavender flowers and emerge covered with a blue-gray pollen.
Bird’s eyes (Gilia tricolor) is a native California wildflower common in the Central Valley and surrounding mountain ranges and foothills.
If you look behind the Sciences Laboratory Building (near Briggs Hall) on the University of California, Davis campus, you'll see a thriving wildflower patch filled with bird's eyes, tidy tips, rock purslane, salvia and desert bluebells.
You'll see honey bees, hover flies, lady bugs and carpenter bees.
It's a bird's eye view for the bees. Or maybe a bee's eye view.
Covered with Pollen