Backyard Orchard News
Take a close look.
What's wrong with the first photo posted below this blog?
If you're a beekeeper or someone who's been around bees, you'll know immediately.
If not, you may look at the photo and say "Hmm, a honey bee. Yep, it's a honey bee, all right. It's on a what...nectarine blossom?"
Yes, it's a honey bee. Yes, it's on a nectarine blossom. But if you look at the huge eyes and the stout body, you'll know it doesn't belong on the blossom. It's a drone (male) and drones don't forage.
They have one responsibility and that's to mate with the queen. A virgin queen, on her maiden flight, leaves the hive and mates in the air with 12 to 25 males waiting for her in the drone congregation area.
After mating, the drones immediately fall to the ground and die. "They die happy," says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Meanwhile, the queen bee returns to her hive and spends the rest of her life laying eggs. She's a veritable egg-laying machine. During the peak season, she'll lay about 2000 eggs a day. She will not mate again. She has enough stored sperm to last the rest of her life, which is usually one to two years.
UC Davis bee scientists got a kick out of the drone on the nectarine blossom. (If you watched the Jerry Seinfeld movie, "The Bee Movie," you probably heard Seinfeld erroneously referring to his fellow male bees as "pollen jocks." He also said males have stingers--they don't.)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, said the photo would make "A great quiz material for beekeeping and pollination courses."
However, the best comment about the photo came from UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis:
"Silly drone--he has one function and that is not it!"
What has six legs and is green all over?
If you think like an entomologist, that's easy.Walking sticks, walking leaves, mantids, crickets and grasshoppers...
The Bohart Museum of Entomology, which houses more than seven million specimens--plus a live "petting zoo"-- is gearing up for a Sunday event featuring a St. Patrick's Day theme.
The Bohart Museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on the UC Davis campus, will be open from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, March 21, to focus on what's green.
No, Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey won’t be dressed as a leprechaun. The museum isn’t changing its name to the “O’Bohart.” There’s no pot of gold anywhere in the museum. No shamrocks or “Danny Boy,” either.
But, yes, there will “wearing o’ the green,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart.
Many insects are green.
“The live green ones are walking sticks and walking leaves,” she said. A new addition to the Bohart is a six-inch walking stick that’s a bright kelly green. “This is what inspired the St. Patrick’s Day connection,” Yang said.
*While the four-leaf clover is the luck symbol of St. Patrick’s Day, some cultures in Europe and Asia consider green crickets lucky," Yang said, "so we will have some crickets and grasshoppers from the collection on display.”*
“People will see that not all crickets are green or even brown, but they can be black or reddish or yellowish.”
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon says he’ll feed the Madagascar hissing cockroaches some cabbage—no corned beef, though.
The first 50 visitors wearing green will receive a free Bohart Museum bookmark," Yang said.
The Bohart Museum recently extended its hours to include several Saturdays or Sundays. A Valentine’s Day theme, “What Is a Kissing Bug?”, highlighted the Saturday, Feb. 13 opening.
The next special events: the all-day UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 17 and then the cleverly named MOTH-er’s Day, in celebration of moths, on Saturday, May 8 from 1 to 5 p.m.
MOTH-er's Day is the day before the "real" Mother's Day on Sunday, May 9.
“The weekend openings are in response to working people and parents who can't visit us during the week,” Yang said. The gift shop also will be open. Visitors can purchase T-shirts, posters, stickers and “insect candy,” among other items.
The Bohart, closed on Fridays, is open weekdays, Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Tours can be arranged by contacting Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493 or (530)-752-9464. “Due to limited space, groups need to call ahead and book a tour other than on the weekend openings,” she said.
The Bohart Museum, founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the museum houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America. The museum also includes live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and walking leaves in the "petting zoo."
Green Walking Stick
Concerned about the declining bee population and deteriorating bee health?
Like to paint, draw, sculpt or photograph honey bees? Or craft bee jewelry? Or use another art medium?
If you're 18 and live in a 12-county area, you'll have an opportunity to showcase your bee creativity at a special one-day benefit art show, set Saturday, May 8 in the Sacramento Bee's open-air courtyard, 2100 Q St.
Coordinator and artist Laurelin Gilmore (above) of Sacramento is seeking all “bee-centric, bee-themed or bee-inspired” work.
The 12-county area includes Sacramento, San Joaquin, Contra Costa, Solano, Yolo, Yuba, Nevada, Sutter, Placer, El Dorado, Amador and Calaveras.
If you live in one of those counties and want to enter the art show--and at the same time help bee research--the deadline to confirm participation is Friday, March 19, she said. E-mail her for the necessary information at BeesatBee@gmail.com. The deadline to submit the ready-to-hang art work is April 30.
There's no entrance fee, but a portion of the artist sales will go for honey bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
The May 8th event promises to be a memorable affair. Scheduled to start at 3 p.m., it will include educational displays, refreshments and music. Scientists from the UC Davis Department of Entomology will be there to answer questions, as will area beekeepers. It's free and open to the public. Background: Every year the Sacramento Bee hosts a "Second Saturday" event and this year the focus is on bees.
An excellent idea!
Bee-centric, bee-themed or bee-inspired--sounds like a bee-utiful benefit and a good place to "bee."
William C. Reeves (1916-2004) would have been proud.
Remember William "Bill" Reeves? A renowned entomologist, professor and dean at UC Berkeley, he was widely regarded as the world's foremost authority on the spread and control of mosquito-borne diseases.
His legendary work continues in the form of the William C. Reeves New Investigator Award, a statewide award given to the best scientific paper submitted and presented at the annual Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California conference.
This year the winner of the Reeves New Investigator Award holds special significance.You see, Bill Reeves worked closely with another Bill--research entomologist William Reisen (right), now with the Center for Vectorborne Diseases, UC Davis.
Tara Thiemann, the 2010 recipient of the Reeves New Investigator Award, studies with Reisen, her major professor.
Thiemann, a doctoral candidate in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, won the award for her work, “Evaluating Trap Bias in Blood Meal Identification Studies,” She received $1000 and a plaque at the 78th annual MVCAC meeting, held in Sacramento.
Thiemann’s research involves analyzing the blood meals of Culex mosquitoes throughout California and identifying host prevalence and feeding patterns.
This is crucial research, as infected Culex mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus and other killer diseases.
Thiemann, who joined the Entomology Graduate Program in 2004, received her bachelor's and master's degree in biology from Truman State University, Kirksville, Mo. In 2008 she won a William Hazeltine Student Research Fellowship for her Culex mosquito studies.
Two other graduate students, also affiliated with CVEC, received second and third-place awards in the Reeves New Investigator Award competition.
M. Veronica Armijos, a doctoral student in comparative pathology, won second place with her presentation on “Distribution and Prevalence of Novel Flaviviruses in California.” She received $500.
Christy Andrade, a doctoral candidate in the Microbiology Graduate Group, won third for her presentation on "Effect of Temperature on West Nile Virus Replication in Different Host Cell Types: Potential for Altered Transmission Cycles in California." She received $250.
The students are advised by Reisen and Aaron Brault of the CVEC faculty. Brault is an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, and a research microbiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CVEC faculty member Bruce Eldridge, emeritus professor of entomology and former director of the UC Mosquito Research Program--and also one of Reeves' colleagues--presented the awards.Eldridge remembers collecting many a skeeter with Reeves (see photo below).
Meanwhile, congratulations to the new breed of mosquito researchers (and soon-to-be UC Davis Ph.Ds): Thiemann, Armijos and Andrade.
In the Lab
Trio of Winners
Honey bees, bumble bees, hover flies, parasitoids and common houseflies aren't the only visitors paying their respects to our two nectarine trees.
A picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) dropped in on Feb. 28 for a quick visit.
About the size of a common housefly, it's known as a nuisance pest that hangs around the house more than it does around nectarine trees.
Little is known about is biology, says entomologist Whitney Cranshaw of Coloradio State University. Its larvae often develop within the seed heads of Senecio, a genus of the daisy family that includes ragworts and groundsels.
It’s often mistaken for a walnut husk fly.
This one crawled up and down the nectarine blossoms as if mimicking a bee.
In a wing beat, it was gone.
Picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Upside down, a picture-winged fly (Ceroxys latiusculus) on a nectarine tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ready for take-off, a picture-winged fly steadies its wings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)