Backyard Orchard News
When the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis, launches its winter noonhour seminar series on Wednesday, Jan. 6, crickets will be first in line.
UC Riverside postdoctoral researcher Nathan Bailey will speak on "The Role of Behavioral Plasticity in the Evolution of Silent Crickets" from 12:10 to 1 p.m. Wednesday in 122 Briggs Hall.
Bailey focuses his research on sexual selection, behavioral ecology, phylogeography and insect immunity "with an emphasis on how behavioral plasticity shapes selection and influences reproductive isolation."
His study systems include Mormon crickets (Anabrus simplex) and the Pacific field cricket (Teleogryllus oceanicus).
The seminars are open to all interested persons.
The swamp sunflower that graces the entrance to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, does quadruple duty.
It's stunningly beautiful. It's strong and sturdy. It's a late bloomer. And the honey bees love it.
This perennial sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) can reach 5 to 10 feet tall. It likes its soil moist, which is why it's often planted around water gardens.
You can almost feel the warmth of the sun backlighting the blossoms, as the nearby honey bees forage.
One drawback: it's as vigorous as bamboo and can take over a yard. But oh, how swamp sunflower can color a flower bed.
Until the first frost.
Say that at the American Honey Producers' Association (AHPA) convention Jan. 5-9 in Sacramento, and it's not a term of endearment.
It's an occupation, a calling and a passion.
AHPA's mission is to promote the common interest and general welfare of the American honey producer.
Two representatives from the University of California, Davis, are among the speakers.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, will conduct a nosema workshop. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, will discuss "Honey Bee Genetic Diversity and Stock Importation Protocols."
Those are just a few of the topics. Others include:
- "EPA's Commitment to Protect The Honey Bee" by Steve Bradbury, EPA Deputy Director, Office of Pesticide Programs, Washington, D.C.
- "Why Do We Keep Losing Bees?: An Update on the Work at the Beltsville Bee Lab" by Judy Chen, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD.
- "Where Value Goes Beyond the Truck: What Every Beekeeper Should Know About Transporting Bees" by Richard Ericksrud, WC Freight LLC, New York Mills, Minn.
- "A New Breakthrough in Mite Treatments: Mite Away Quick Strips" by David Vanderdusen, NOD Apiary Products, Ontario, Canada
- "The Sierra Club: Working to Protect Pollinators (The Nicotine Bees Preview)" by Neil Carman, Sierra Club chemist, Austin, Texas
- "New Research on Small Hive Beetles, Management and Breeding Russian Honey Bees for Almond Pollination" by Tom Rinderer, research leader, USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, LA
Think of honey as not only nature's sweetener but something that can give you medical benefits.
Now that's a good way to start the year off right!
Hap-bee New Year!/span>
It's being hailed by environmental groups as "a victory for the bees."
A U.S. federal judge has ruled that the insecticide, spirotetramat, must be pulled from the shelves because it could be dangerously toxic to America's declining honey bee population.
Starting Jan. 15, 2010, it will be illegal for the insecticide, manufactured by Bayer CropScience under the trade names Movento and Ultor, to be sold in the United States.
What the federal court order does is invalidate EPA's approval of the use of the pesticide.
U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote ruled that the EPA did not properly seek comments or publicize the review process. She called for further re-evaluation of the insecticide in compliance with the law.
Spirotetramat, which inhibits cell reproduction in insects, targets such sucking pests as aphids, whiteflies, scales, mealybugs, psylla, phylloxera, thrips, and mites.
Up to now, its registered uses, according to the 74-page EPA document, included a variety of fruits and vegetables, as well as uses in greenhouses and nurseries. A few of them: citrus, grapes, cucumbers, brussel sprouts, cabbage, potatoes, onions, strawberries, stone fruits and livestock commodities.
The Xerces Society, an invertebrate conservation society based in Portland, Ore., and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental organization in New York, filed the suit as a means to protect bees.
Pesticides--along with diseases, viruses, parasites, pests, malnutrition and the changing weather--have been linked to colony collapse disorder, a mysterious malady in which adult bees abandon the colony, leaving behind the queen, brood and food stores.
"Save the bees" is a hue-and-cry being heard about the world. And rightfully so.
Bees, our little agricultural workers, pollinate about one-third of the food we eat. In the United States, bees pollinate $15 billion worth of plants every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Newly emerged bee
Soon beekeepers from around the country will be trucking their bees to California for the annual almond pollination.
California has some 700,000 acres of almonds, with each acre requiring two hives for pollination.
But an article in the Dec. 27th edition of the New York Post raises a serious question: How healthy are the honey bees?
Since colony collapse disorder (CCD) became the buzz word in the fall of 2006, just how healthy are the bees now?
Well, CCD is still with us, and the commercial beekeeper that sounded the alarm--Dave Hackenberg of Pennsylvania--says this winter could be the worst yet.
Hackenberg told The Post that "We had around 3000 hives at the end of the summer, but they started shrinking early, so when we came to truck them to Florida, there was only 2000 of them left."
He said that he wouldn't be surprised if one-fifth of his bees died before spring. "We're hoping we can stop at 50 percent losses," Hackenberg told reporter Alison Benjamin.
CCD, the mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive--leaving behind the queen and brood--continues to wreak havoc.
That's why honey bee research is so important.
CCD is probably caused by multiple factors, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis and closely affiliated with the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. The targeted list of suspects involved includes diseases, parasites, pesticides, pests, viruses, stress, malnutrition, and weather changes.
Beeline to Blossom