Backyard Orchard News
The BBC this week examined colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious phenomonen characterized by bees abandoning their hives. The adult bees buzz off, leaving the brood and stored food behind. They do not return.
Many bee specialists believe it's not just one thing causing CCD--it's a combination of factors or a "perfect storm": parasites, pesticides, malnutrition, stress, diseases and global weather changes.
The blood-sucking varroa mite, a parasite of honey bees, is a contributing factor in the decline of bee health.
When the BBC interviewed Cooperative Exension Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Entomology Department faculty about varroa mites, he said that the European or western honey bee doesn't "do a good job" of removing them. To a human, the varroa mite would be about the size of a softball "running around on you."
The varroa mite, Mussen said, is problematic because of three things:
1. It sucks the so-called bee blood, making the bee nutritionally weaker
2. It interferes with the immune system
3. The varroa can get viruses on its mouthparts so it inoculates bees with viruses as it travels from one bee to another.
Listen to Mussen talk about the varroa mite as he examines it under a microscope. Then imagine a softball-sized bloodsucker on you.
Varroa mite on drone
A chimpanzee holds a monarch butterfly in a ceramic art work titled “
Human hands cradle insects and assorted objects in a ceramic work titled “Analyze This.”
Those are just two of the art works featured in a juried show under way at the Pence Gallery,
You can view the art, listen to music and talk to artists at the free public reception set for 7 to 9 p.m., Friday, March 13 at the gallery. The art is amazing, said Art/Science Fusion Program co-director Diane Ullman, associate dean undergraduate academic programs of the
Among the work exhibited in the show is that of Catherine Chalmers, one of the distinguished series of speakers in the Consilience of Art and Science Colloquium, sponsored by Art/Science Fusion, which is part of the Science and Society Program,
The “Analzye This” piece is by Ann Savageau, associate professor of design at UC Davis. Savageau explains: “This is Art analyzing Science analyzing Nature. It makes visible the analytical methodology at the heart of the scientific endeavor. We take our measuring, probing, dissecting, and classifying for granted, as "the way things are". We forget that these are recent cultural constructs. “
Another ceramic work, “Twins,” by Marnia Johnston of
And it’s all a part of the Consilience of Art and Science Colloquium. What is consilience, you ask? William Whewell (1794-1866), who coined the term in 1840, described it as the linking together of facts and principles from different disciplines to form a broad, comprehensive theory that spans the realms of knowledge.
E. O. Wilson brought consilience into the modern lexicon with his highly acclaimed book, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge.
Tomorrow's a good day to learn about carabid beetles.
Kipling "Kip" Will, associate professor of insect systematics, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management at UC Berkeley, will discuss his research at a noon seminar, Wednesday, March 11 in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis.
His topic: "The Phylogeny of Pterostichine Carabid Beetles and the Diversification of Continental Island Faunas." His lecture is the last in a series of 10 winter seminars sponsored by the UC Davis Department of Entomology. It's free and open to the public. The host is UC Davis doctoral candidate Rebekah O'Flaherty, known for coining Maggot Art.
At a recent seminar at Oregon State University, the scientist said: "Since the rise of Adephaga 240 million years ago, carabid beetles have crept, wedged, scurried, stank and even exploded their way to evolutionary success. Often lumped into a single pile as generalists predators, the family actually includes vegans and vampires, cannibals and caregivers and more."
Will kindly provided us with a photo of Pterostichus lama, which he describes as "the largest carabid beetle in California and as big as any in North America." It has no common name, he said.
This image was taken by one of his students, Ainsley Seago. It also graces Will's lab Web site.
The skies brightened last weekend and the rain-weary honey bees returned to the nectarine blossoms in our yard
They were in the pink again!
Capturing images of the bees gathering nectar and pollen is more fun than eating cotton candy at a county fair.
Radiant pink flowers.
Industrious honey bees.
What more could anyone ask for a garden party?
Pistol packin’ mamas have nothing on honey bees.
Have you ever seen the pollen load that a honey bee carries?
What's pollen? It's the fine, powder-like material produced by the anthers of flowering plants, or the grains that contain the male reproductive cells of a seed plant.
The worker bees carry pollen in special pollen baskets on their legs. The baskets are concave surfaces fringed with bristles or curved hairs to hold the pollen in place.
Only the worker bees have pollen baskets. The queen bee and the drones (males) have none.
"Honey bees derive their protein, vitamins, minerals and some carbohydrates from pollens," UC Davis Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen writes in Bee Briefs. "Since no single pollen source provides all their nutritional needs, honey bees must have a number of pollens available to them to remain healthy and to produce the royal jelly required to feed the queen and rear brood."
Worker bees feed the brood "beebread," a mixture of nectar and pollen.
Yesterday the honey bees on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis buzzed around the almond blossoms, gathering nectar and pollen.
It's amazing--truly amazing-how much pollen honey bees can pack in those pollen baskets.