Backyard Orchard News
The Berkeley City Council did the right thing.
The council members voted this week to landscape city parks and open spaces with pollinator-friendly plants.
The plan: to provide a friendly habitat and food source for pollinators, especially honey bees.
Within the next few weeks, the park staff will plant native, flowering plants. They'll take precautions by placing the plants at least 30 feet from children's play areas, garbage cans and restrooms.
Bee behavior being what it is, a single bee nectaring a flower isn't likely to sting. Or, for that matter, many bees visiting flowers. The bees are there to work: to gather nectar and pollen for their colonies.
The bee garden follows on the heels of the newly announced vegetable and herb garden at the White House. That, too, is an important food source for pollinators.
One of the best comments we've heard:
"The First Family has set a great example for Americans," said Ching-Yee Hu, Haagen-Dazs brand manager in a recently published news release. "It not only shows everyone the importance of backyard gardens and knowing how food gets to your table, but also lets everyone know that bees are important and they need our help."
That bears repeating: "...bees are important and they need our help."
As part of its public service, Haagen-Dazs launched a nationwide campaign last year to help save the bees, including helping research efforts at UC Davis and Pennyslvania State. This year is Year 2 of the campaign. Their projects include funding a honey bee haven, or bee friendly garden, at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. Nearly 50 percent of Haagen-Dazs ice cream flavors depend on honey bees, or as they put it, are "bee-built."
Among the company's other bee friendly plans: to distribute two million flower seeds this year. Some will be given away at the UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 18. The display will be at Briggs Hall, as part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's Picnic Day celebration. Meanwhile, you can ask for free seeds by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. (The hdloveshb means "Haagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees.") More information appears on their educational site, helpthehoneybees.com.
It's nice to see the united effort by the nation, states, cities, businesses, and residents to support the honey bees.
Sunny days ahead!
Bee on sunflower
Charles "Charlie" Summers is outstanding in his field.
And come Monday, March 30, the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America will honor the
He's the 2009 winner of the prestigious Charles W. Woodworth Award from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
Summers, stationed at the UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Parlier, since 1970, and a member of UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1992, will receive the award at the branch’s 93rd annual meeting, set March 29-April 1 in
“This is the major award of the Pacific Branch to professionals and is very prestigious,” said Pacific Branch president Walt Bentley, an integrated pest management specialist at
Throughout his career, Summers has worked to solve pest problems impacting
Summers developed economic thresholds, determining at what point the cost of pest damage exceeds the cost of pest control. He pioneered economic thresholds for seven pests in four crops, and developed management strategies for a combination of 28 crops, insect and disease pests. His credits include publications in more than 200 journals and more than 800 presentations.
Summers is known for his research on the interactions among insects, diseases and weeds on alfalfa hay and how they individually and as a whole, influence yield and quality. His work has led to improved best management decisions and decreased pesticide use.
He is also known for his research on reflective mulches, used to delay and reduce aphid and whitefly infestations on squash, pumpkins, cucumbers and tomatoes and other crops. He teams with plant pathologist Jim Stapleton and vegetable crop specialist Jeff Mitchell, both based at
“In the mid-1990s, Dr. Stapleton and I embarked on a series of studies to determine if aphids, aphid-transmitted viruses, and silverleaf whitefly could be managed using plastic reflective mulches,” Summers said ”Dr. Jeff Mitchell later joined our team. We evaluated a wide variety of crops as well as different types of mulches. We were able to manage all three of these pests without the need to rely on the use of insecticides.”
“Our studies have clearly demonstrated that the use of these mulches are effective in delaying the onset of silverleaf whitefly colonization and the incidence of aphid-borne virus diseases,” Summers said. “The data shows that marketable yields with summer squash, cucumber, and pumpkins grown over reflective mulch are higher than those in plants grown over bare soil, both with and without insecticide. We also determined that the use of reflective mulch, without insecticides, leads to significantly increased yields of fall planted cantaloupes.”
Another highlight of his career: his work on the biology of corn leafhopper and corn stunt spiroplasma. He proved that the corn leafhopper can overwinter in the
So, come Monday, March 30, Summers will receive the coveted award that only 39 other entomologists have received in the history of the Pacific Branch. The organizaiton encompasses 11 U.S. states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming); several U.S. territories, including American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands; and parts of Canada and Mexico.
A tip of the hat to Charles Summers!
Scientists have long been studying alternative pollinators, especially with the decline of the honey bee population and growing concerns about "How will we pollinate our crops?"
Now a newly published study in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) shows that wild bees, which are not affected by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), may serve as alternative pollinators.
You've seen the tiny bees buzzing around on blossoms. At first glance, you may have mistaken them for honey bees. They're not.
Chances are you'll be hearing more about them, though.
ESA's communications director Richard Levine e-mailed us a press release today
reporting the results of a three-year scientific study that took place on 15 southwestern
Most species were from subfamily Halictinae (family Halictidae) and genus Andrena (family Andrenidae)
The journal article, titled "Wild Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) of the Michigan Highbush Blueberry Agroecosystem," was authored by Julianna K. Tuell (
A quote from Tuell in the news release: "This should help growers know what kinds of bees are in the fields so that they can make informed decisions about whether they should modify crop management practices in order to help conserve natural populations of bees."
"Untreated bamboo or reeds are good materials because they provide natural variation in hole diameter to attract the broadest range of species. There are also a number of commercially manufactured options that growers can use, such as foam blocks with pre-drilled holes and cardboard tubes made to a particular diameter to suit a particular species of interest. Drilling different sized holes in wood is another option. If a grower is interested in trying to build up populations of a particular species, there are also details about how to do so available online."
Good idea. On a tour of Yolo County farms last year, we saw many "bee condos," or nesting cavities, for the native pollinators. (See below). They're easy to make. Just like a baseball field attracts players, so will bee condos attract native pollinators. Build them and they will come.
(B y the way ESA now has a presence on Facebook, offering more opportunities for social networking.)
y the way ESA now has a presence on Facebook, offering more opportunities for social networking.)
An article in today's San Francisco Chronicle indicated that the Berkeley City Council is "poised to transform all the city's parks and open spaces into habitats for bees."
That's the kind of news we need more of, more often.
"If the council approves the resolution," wrote Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones, "all future landscaping would be 'pollinator-friendly' flowering native plants intended to attract bees, bats, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles and flies."
And about time!
Indeed, the declining bee population should concern us all. Bees are beneficial insects. They pollinate our fruits, vegetables and nuts. They provide honey, wax and other products. One-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Without bees, life as we know it would cease to exist.
The Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on the bee resolution at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley. We expect the council will hear protests about bee stings. Some folks, whether they're allergic to bees or not, dislike bees simply because they sting. Say "bees" and they think "stings."
Bees? Stings. Bees. Stings.
That's not what bees are all about.
The Berkeley protestors should take a look at the UC Davis Arboretum. The UC Davis campus is oh, so fortunate to have an arboretum filled with bee friendly plants. The bees go about their business while arboretum fans go about theirs. Folks stroll the paths, relax on benches and admire the gardens--which include bees, butterflies and other insects.
And in October when the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is dedicated on the grounds of Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis, the landscaping on campus will be even more enjoyable. It will be a place to inform, educate and entertain.
That's the way it should be.
Of course, plans for the Berkeley bee habitats would include precautions. All bee friendly landscaping would be planted at least 30 feet from children's play areas, barbecues, garbage cans and picnic tables.
"Staff would also post signs in the parks explaining the importance of bee habitats," Jones wrote.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates got it right when he told the Chronicle reporter: "I read about the bees declining and thought 'This is terrible. What can we do?' Making our parks pollinator-friendly is totally possible and economically feasible and a good way to help bees in our city."
Now the next step ought to be to encourage residents to plant bee friendly gardens.
Honey bee on salvia
To really know the honey bee industry, visit an apiary or bee yard.
From a distance, you'll see a beekeeper working the hives.
Look closer, and you'll see bees landing on visitors.
Look even closer, and you'll see an individual bee going about her work.
In the camera world, it's like going from a telephoto to a macro lens. Close, closer and closest yet.
These photos were taken yesterday (March 19) at three queen bee producing companis in Glenn County, located some 100 miles north of Sacramento. The occasion: UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey was leading her class of U.S. and international students on a tour of commercial queen bee producers. First stop: C. F. Koehen & Sons, Inc., in Glenn. Second stop: Heitkam's Honey Bees in Orland, and third, Olivarez Honey Bees, Inc., in Orland.