Backyard Orchard News
So said Senior Extension Associate Maryann Frazier of Penn State when she addressed the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's seminar last Wednesday, April 2 in Briggs Hall.
Frazier, on a trip to California to discuss her research with the Marin County Beekeepers, took time out to travel to the UC Davis campus at the invitation of Master Beekeeper/writer Mea McNeil of the Marin County Beekeepers and associate professor Neal Williams and assistant professor Brian Johnson of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Frazier, a 25-year extension specialist, expressed concern about the pesticide loads that bees are carrying, as well as the declining population of bees and other pollinators.
Beekeepers, she said, used to be much more concerned about colony collapse disorder (CCD), that mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult honey bees abandoning the hive, leaving the queen bee, brood and food stores behind. CCD surfaced in the winter of 2006, but today, when beekeepers report their winter losses, "they're not blaming CCD any more," she said.
Frazier listed the prime suspects of troubled bees as poor nutrition, mites, genetics, stress, pesticides, nosema and viruses. "Varroa mites are a huge issue," Frazier said.
Turning to pesticides, she said a 2007-2010 U.S. analysis of some 1000 samples (wax, bees and flowers) showed "an astonishing average of six pesticides per sample and up to 31 different pesticides per sample." The analysis, done by U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service Lab (USDA/AMS) screened for 171 pesticides at parts per billion. The samples involved a CCD study, apple orchard study, migratory study and submissions from individual beekeepers.
Frazier compared the interaction of pesticides in bees to the interaction of medications in humans. When you go to the doctor, you'll be asked the names of the medications you're taking, she said. The "interaction" situation is similar to what's happening with the honey bees.
In a bee colony, lethal exposures to pesticides are easy to see, Frazier noted. "You'll see dead bees, bees spinning on their backs and bees regurgitating." But the sub-lethal effects can mean "reduced longevity, reduced memory and learning, reduced immune function and poor orientation."
Marin County Beekeepers recently undertook a similar study of pesticide analysis, raising $12,000 to do so ($300 per sample). "Marin is very mindful of pesticides, probably more than any other place," Frazier said. McNeil agreed. The results are pending publication.
"If we truly want to protect our pollinators," Frazier concluded, "three things need to be addressed or changed:
- Beekeeper reliance on chemicals and drugs to manage mites and diseases
- Pest control practices, particularly agricultural land
- The approach of more regulatory agences assessing risk and protecting the environment"
As the seminar participants left Briggs Hall, many could be heard discussing the take-home message: "average of six pesticides per sample, up to 31 pesticides per sample."
A queen bee and her colony at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maryann Frazier with the list of 171 pesticides screened in the U.S. survey. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Lindcove's second USDA-APHIS-PPQ Approved Pest Exclusionary greenhouse passed inspection this week, and is now ready for potting materials to be brought in. Carrizo rootstock seeds will soon be planted in cone flats, and seedlings should be ready for budding in early 2015.
Federal Asian citrus psyllid quarantine regulations require that citrus nursery stock be grown in protected structures such as this one. Although Lindcove does not grow plants for commercial use, all plants grown for research purposes must comply with the same regulations that govern California citrus nurseries. USDA staff conduct monthly greenhouse inspections, looking for openings that could permit small insects such as Asian citrus psyllid to enter the facility. Lindcove's first pest approved structure was certified in October of 2013.
More information on USDA-Approved Pest Exclusionary Facility requirements can be found at the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) website under Federal Screenhouse Requirements for Interstate Movement, using the following link:
Physical Plant Mechanic Dan Seymore and assistant Dave Christiansen proudly show off the new greenhouse
The honey bees know it before we do.
The tangerines are blooming.
Today dozens of bees buzzed around our tangerine trees, doing their annual job of pollinating the crop.
The tangerine, the common name of the mandarin orange, is native to southeast Asia. According to the Oxford English dictionary, the word, "tangerine," originates from Tangier, a seaport in Morocco on the Strait of Gibralter.
No matter its name or its origin, the bees love it. According to California Bountiful, California's citrus industry is valued at more than $1 billion annually--second after Florida "which produces the most valencia oranges; those are the seeded oranges used mostly for orange juice. California is No. 1 in fresh-market oranges, most notably the navel, but also produces a significant share of the nation's valencias, lemons, grapefruit and tangerines."
Tangerines are a favorite because of their taste, small size, easy-to-peel appeal, and now something else. Researchers at the University of Western Ontario discovered a substance in the tangerine skins that "not only prevents obesity in mice, but also offers protections against type 2 diabetes, and even atherosclerosis, the underlying disease responsible for most heart attacks and strokes." (Source: Wikipedia)
Who would have thought?
A honey bee pollinates a tangerine blossom next to fruit lingering on the tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Acrobatic honey bee on a tangerine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's the end for one blossom and the beginning of another. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Frankly, who would want to attend a picnic WITHOUT bugs?
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is gearing up for the 100th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, set from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, April 12.
Come one, come all.
Bugs, too. Bugs at Briggs. Bugs at Bohart.
That would be Briggs Hall and the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Lots of fun and educational activities revolving around insects will be offered, according to forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, coordinator of the activities at Briggs Hall, and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is home to nearly 8 million insect specimens. It also features a live “petting zoo” where visitors can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches, a rose-haired tarantula and walking sticks. The focus on Picnic Day will be "recently discovered and insects that are threatened and extinct," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum.
At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, the popular events will include maggot art (suitable for framing--at least for posting on your refrigerator), termite trails, cockroach races and honey tasting, as well as displays featuring forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture and forest entomology. Exhibits also will include such topics as fly fishing/fly-tying, insect pests of ornamentals, and pollinators of California. In addition, you'll see bug sampling equipment.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, coordinator of the honey tasting, will share six varieties of honey: Almond, yellow starthistle, leatherwood, cultivated buckwheat, safflower and “wild oak.” Each person will be given six toothpicks to sample the varieties.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will provide a display in front of Briggs Hall. Visitors can learn about managing pests in their homes and garden. In addition, live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) will be distributed to children.
Plans also call for a “Bug Doctor” to answer insect-related questions from the public. That's called "bugging the Bug Doctor."
Briggs Hall beckons with bugs on UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey tasting will include almond, yellow starthistle, leatherwood, cultivated buckwheat, safflower and “wild oak." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Maggot art is a popular attraction at Briggs Hall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Picnic goers can get up close and personal with walking sticks at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It was not long after Robbin Thorp's talk on wild bees at the UC Davis Pollinator Gardening Workshop (hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture on March 15 at Giedt Hall), that lo and bee-hold: a mining bee appeared in our backyard.
From the family Andrenidae, it was foraging on the cherry laurels (Prunus caroliniana). Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified the bee from photos as genus Andrena, probably Andrena cerasifolii. "Note the pollen transport hairs on the hind legs," he said.
In his talk, Thorp mentioned that "there are more than 19,500 named bee species in the world, but more likely 20,000 to maybe 30,000." Of that number, North America has about 4500 bee species; California, 1600; and Yolo County, more than 300.
Indeed, Thorp has detected more than 80 bee species alone in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis (Yolo County). Planted in the fall of 2009, it's owned and maintained by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Here are a few bees you might want to pursue:
Andrenidae (mining bees)
Halictidae (sweat bees)
Colletidae (polyester and masked bees)
Megachilidae (leafcutting, carder and mason bees)
Apidae (digger, carpenter, cuckoo and honey bees)
We're looking forward to "California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists," to be published in the fall of 2014 by Heyday Press. It's the work of Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley; Robbin Thorp of UC Davis; photographer Rollin Coville of the Bay Area; and Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley. It will contain nearly 30 of the most common bee genera in California.
Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) also published "Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens" in California Agriculture.
Meanwhile, check out the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab website for interesting information on native bees.
You, too, can attract them to your yard. As Thorp says: "Plant them and they will come. Provide habitat and they will stay and reproduce."
Female of the genus Andrena (Andrenidae) probably Andrena angustitarsata, as identified by Robbin Thorp. This is a native, solitary, ground nesting bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)