Posts Tagged: honey bees
The honey bees are hungry.
There are fewer flowers blooming this time of the year, so the bees are foraging for what they can.
This morning the bees were all over the lavender (Lavandula) in our yard. One bee, packing red pollen (probably from rock purslane), glided in, strapped herself to the lavender, and sipped the nectar from a floral "cup."
The bees are a little testy this time of the year. They're foraging for their winter stores as the days grow colder and shorter and the floral supply fades. "Honey bees don't forage when it is cool, below around 50 degrees," says bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk of the University of California, Davis.
To help support the declining bee population, it's crucial to offer the bees a year-around food supply, and that's exactly what the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the UC Davis, will do. A public open house is scheduled June 19.
Meanwhile, it was Red Letter Day today as the pollen-packing bee made her rounds.
Packing Red Pollen
Red Tongue, Red Pollen
That's the title of a new display at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis.
It's quite timely and appropriate because of the beleaguered bees.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has a keen interest in bees, and not just because she's an entomologist and a former beekeeper. She's instrumental in the administrative aspects of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Reseach Facility, including the newly planted Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden. Plans call for a public open house June 19.
And if you ever want to check out the wide variety of bee specimens (from honey bees to carpenter bees to sweat bees to blue orchard bees, et al), be sure to visit the Bohart. Bees are among the seven million insect specimens housed there.
The Pollination Nation display emphasizes the importance of bees. "Approximately three quarters of all flowering plants rely on animals, mostly insects, for pollination," the display reads. "Wild insect pollinators include bumble bees, flies, solitary bees, butterflies, ants, beetles and wasps.”
“Farmers rely heavily upon the managed colonies of the European honey bee (Apis mellifera) to pollinate crops. Not only do honey bees help produce our food but they also provide us honey and wax. Recently honey bee colonies have been dying off and their numbers are declining. Disease and mites may be the root of the problem, but insecticides and habitat loss also pose serious threats.”
Researchers at UC Davis, Kimsey explained, are trying to "understand and solve the problems of declining pollinators, both native and domesticated, by studying their taxonomy, ecology, life history traits, diseases and behaviors."
The Bohart Museum, located in 1124 Academic Surge, was founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart, former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the insect 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. “That’s our petting zoo,” Kimsey quipped. (Yes, you can hold them.)
More information about the Bohart, visiting hours, and guided tours is available from public outreach coordinator Tabatha Yang at (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen (right), a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, touches on these subjects in the latest edition of from the UC Apiaries, a bimonthly newsletter he's been writing since 1976.
Mussen, who will be the keynote speaker at the 120th annual California State Beekeepers' Association, set Nov. 17-19 in San Diego, keeps beekeepers informed.
His topic at the state beekeepers' meeting? “Glimpses of California’s Beekeeping Future.” He'll speak at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the convention headquarters, the Hilton Resort and Spa.
Mussen, who was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007. In 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
A noted authority on honey bees, Mussen has been interviewed by Good Morning, America, the Lehrer Hour, National Public Radio, California Heartland, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other media.
Other UC Davis speakers at the conference will be breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and assistant professor and native pollinator specialist Neal Williams.
Cobey, who was named the association’s California Young Beekeeper of the Year in 1986, will speak Nov. 17 on “Update on Stock Improvement.” Williams will discuss his work as the UC Davis new native pollinator specialist on Nov. 18.
Meanwhile, hot off the presses, is the September-October edition of from the UC Apiaries. You can read the current edition and back editions, 1994-2009, here. There's no charge to download the newsletters.
The doctor (Mussen has a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul) is in.
Honey Bee and Catmint
Bees buzz. People "Tweet."
Well, many people do.
It's generous of the Häagen-Dazs brand to donate $1 per Tweet (up to $500 per day) from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11 to support honey bee research at the University of California, Davis.
Häagen-Dazs, known for its superpremium ice cream and other desserts, is joining forces with ExperienceProject.com (EP), a San Francisco-based online community for sharing life experiences, to help the honey bees via EP’s TwitCause.
TwitCause, which EP launched in August, connects people with causes.
How can you do this--support UC Davis honey bee research by Tweeting?
“The easiest way for individuals to get involved is to visit www.twitcause.com,” said Erik Darby of EP. “There are directions on top of the page that detail how to follow, retweet, and make an impact around the honey bee cause on Twitter. Starting Thursday, Nov. 5, the designated TwitCause will be the Häagen Dazs Help-the-Honey-Bee campaign.”
“It’s an easy thing to do, and you don’t have to buy anything or send a letter to anyone,” said Tonya Iles, interactive manager for Häagen-Dazs.
Honey bees are responsible for the pollination of more than 100 crops, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, providing 80 percent of the country’s pollination services, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
Häagen-Dazs (HD Loves HB, or Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees) is a strong supporter of honey bee research at UC Davis. About 50 percent of their ice cream flavors depend on bee pollination. HD supports the work of bee virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellow. HD also supports the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a newly planted half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The haven is a year-around food source for honey bees and an educational experience for visitors.
Bees were the original "social network," as Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, says
Now it's our turn to network.
The "honey bee reproductive ground plan" hypothesis that originated two dec
Page, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and now founding director of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University, and his collaborator Gro Amdam, are featured in the Oct. 23rd edition of Science, a publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Writing in the behavior ecology section in an article headlined, "Sex and Social Structure," journalist Elizabeth Pennisi related that the scientists' research "has shown that reproductive traits help shape a honey bee worker's role in life and that ovaries are active players in the process-even if they play little role in reproduction in worker bees."
The specialized tasks "have their basis in what Amdam and Page call a reproductive ground plan," she wrote. Their work has provided a framework and tools to study division of labor, which now "converges on two genes that may explain both ovary size and behavior."
Page and Amdam, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences and Norwegian University of Life Sciences, believe that genes and hormones likely control social roles as well as longevity.
Their research centers on the role of the ovary in honey bee colonies, and how the worker bees partition the labor of the colony with duties that include rearing young bees, constructing the nest, foraging for pollen and nectar, and processing the food.
Page, a pioneer in the field of evolutionary genetics and social behavior of bees, has long marveled at how highly social bees are. Worker bees, or infertile females, instinctively divide up their roles to run the hive, freeing the queen to lay eggs.
The worker bees serve as nurse maids, nannies, royal attendants, architects, builders, foragers, guards and undertakers.
But why are some colonies high-pollen collectors and hoarders, while others aren't?
His research on high and low pollen hoarding strains that began two decades led to the "reproductive ground plan" hypothesis. Page continues to keep his specialized bee stock, managed by bee breeder-geneticist M. Kim Fondrk, at UC Davis.
This is exciting research.
As Page told us: "The reproductive ground plan research is integrating developmental biology into insect sociobiology. It is completing the synthesis by looking for the signatures of levels of selection above the organism, at the level of the genes, physiology, and embryogenesis. It is substantiating the superorganism."
UC Davis is the hub for the development and maintenance of the high and low pollen hoarding strains of bees "that have been fundamental in testing the reproductive ground plan hypothesis and understanding how selection on colonies affects different levels of biological organization from genes to societies," he said.
Page, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis, retired from UC Davis in 2004 to develop the School of Life Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.
Page and Amdam are the co-principal investigators on a federally funded project directed by UC Davis entomology professor James R. Carey. Carey directs the Biodemographic Determinants of Lifespan, a National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Aging-funded program involving scientists from UC Davis, UC Santa Barbara, UC Berkeley, Stanford and seven other academic institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Greece.See more information on the UC Davis Entomology Web site.
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