Posts Tagged: UC Davis
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.
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.
The honey bee population is declining throughout the world, but not the interest in the art of queen rearing.
The annual class taught by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, filled up within a week and 25 are on the waiting list for next year.
It’s so popular that Cobey may teach two classes in 2010: one for commercial beekeepers and one for hobbyists.
The class, set March 17-19, includes two days of classroom and hands-on beekeeping, and an optional tour on March 19 of large scale commercial queen production facilities in northern
The class “is designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of what it takes to rear high-quality queens,” said Cobey, who accepts only 20 students per course.
Cobey, whose background includes operation of a commercial queen production and bee breeding business, will present information on bee biology and principles of queen rearing.
“The beekeepers will be involved in the various steps of the process including setting up cell builders, grafting, handling queen cells and establishing mating nucs (nucleus hives),” Cobey said. She also discuss the importance of drone production and establishing mating areas.
Her queen bee instrumental insemination classes at UC Davis draw students from throughout the world. Cobey will teach “Instrumental Insemination and Bee Breeding Workshop” April 14, 15 and 16, and the “Advanced Workshop on the Technique of Instrumental Insemination” April 22 and 23. The list of registrants includes beekeepers from
For the art of queen rearing class, it’s BYOV.
That means “bring your own veil.”
Teaching a class
It's often mistaken for a honey bee.
It's not a honey bee. It's a hover fly or flower fly.
And this one, hovering around the plants last Saturday in the Storer Gardens at the University of California, Davis, looked like a Syrphus opinator to me.
So I asked UC Davis entomologist Robert "Bob" Bugg, who specializes in flower flies (Syrphidae), what it is.
"If I have to be an opinator, I'd opine that you're right," he quipped.
Bugg, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis, does research on the biological control of insect pests, cover crops, and restoration ecology.
If you want to learn more about flower flies, read Dr. Bugg's "Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops" (Publication 8285, May 2008, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.)
Head of Hover Fly