Posts Tagged: Susan Cobey
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.
Let me tell you 'bout the birds and the bees
And the flowers and the trees...
The Birds and the Bees (music and lyrics by Herb Newman)
Don't know about "the birds and the flowers and the trees," but the bees were definitely there.
Lots of bees. More than 250,000. I captured this image on Tuesday, March 17 at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on the UC Davis campus.
The occasion: UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility was teaching a three-day course on "The Art of Queen Bee Rearing."
Tuesday the beekeepers learned about the principles of queen rearing, set up cell builders, grafted queen cells, made queen cup bars, made queen candy, marked and clipped the queens, and evaluated drone maturing and queen mating status. Those were just a few of the scores of activities.
Wednesday the beekeepers heard a two-hour lecture on "Bee Nutrition and Emergent Diseases" by Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, a 32-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. The class also grafted queen cells, participated in diagnosis workshops (detection of tracheal mites and nosema) and learned about instrumental insemination.
Tomorrow (Thursday), they'll participate in an area tour of commercial queen producers.
Where's the buzz? Definitely at UC Davis.
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
Claire Preston isn't a beekeeper but she's written an informative book titled Bee.
Published in 2006 by Reaktion Books,
Her 10 chapters tantalize us with such headings as "The Reason for Bees," "Biological Bee," "Kept Bee," "Political Bee," "Pious/Corrupt Bee," "Utile Bee," Aesthetic Bee," "Folkloric Bee," "Playful Bee," "Bee Movie" and the last, "Retired Bee."
But back to Bee.
Preston traces the history of bees (Apis mellifera) to southern Asia: bees probably originated in Afghanistan, she says. They were imported to South America in the 1530s and to what is now the United States (Virginia) in 1621. Native Americans called them "The Englishman's fly."
Preston calls the bee "Nature's workaholic" and borrowing a comment from Sue Monk Kidd's superb novel, The Secret Life of Bees, remarks: "You could not stop a bee from working if you tried."
"The most talented specialists (in the bee colony) are the workers," Preston writes. "They are the builders, brood-nurses, honey-makers, pollen-stampers, guards, porters, and foragers, and those tasks are related to their developmental age."
"All worker bees, in other words, take up these functions in succession as they mature, with the newest workers undertaking nursing, cleaning, building and repair in the nest, somewhat older workers making honey and standing guard, and the oldest bees foraging for pollen and nectar."
Frankly, bees are social insects in a highly social organization. They don't waver from their duties. The queen's job is to mate and then lay eggs for the rest of her life. The drone's job is to mate and then die. If the drones make it to autumn, the worker bees drive them from the hives "to die of starvation," Preston writes. "This exclusion of some hundreds of drones each autumn is one of the most remarkable sights in the animal kingdom. The workers are pitiless: drones do no work in the maintenance of the colony and cannot even feed themselves, so they cannot be allowed to overwinter and consume precious resources."
It's a sad time, to be sure. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, tells us she feels sorry for the drones. "They're cold and hungry and get pushed out of the hive."
And, as UC Davis apiculturist Eric Mussen says: "First the workers quit feeding them (drones) so they're light enough to push out."
But as winter ebbs away and spring beckons, soon each hive will be teeming with some 50,000 to 60,000 bees. And all those worker bees--which Preston calls "agricultural workers"--will be turning into Nature's workaholics.
They'll never be promoted to CEO, though.
Not a chance./st1:place>/st1:placename>/st1:placetype>/st1:placetype>/st1:placename>/st1:placename>/st1:place>/st1:placename>/st1:city>/st1:country-region>/st1:place>/st1:country-region>/st1:place>/st1:state>/st1:state>/st1:state>/st1:state>/u1:smarttagtype>/u1:smarttagtype>/u1:smarttagtype>/u1:smarttagtype>/u1:smarttagtype>/u1:smarttagtype>/o:p>/o:p>/st1:city>/st1:place>/o:p>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>
Queen Bee and Workers
UC Davis bee specialists were well represented in a recent edition of The IPM Practitioner, which landed on our desk last week.
The edition, devoted to “Pesticides and Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder,” includes four photos from the UC Davis Department of Entomology. They show bee specialist Michael “Kim” Fondryk tending his bees in the Roy Gill almond orchard,
As mentioned in the publication, “The exact cause of CCD has not been determined. A CCD task force has been established and a number of possibilities are being investigated.”
Bees continue to die in alarming numbers. Some of the nation's beekeepers report losing from one-third to 100 percent of their bees due to the mysterious phenomenon known as CCD, in which all the adult bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen, brood and stored food.
As managing editor William Quarles says in The IPM Practitioner: "Despite our dependence on honey bees, we have lost about 45 percent of them over the past 65 years. According to the USDA, there were 5.9 million colonies in 1947 and about 2.4 million today."
Quarles, an IPM specialist who is executive director of the Bio-Integral Resource Center, suggests a nationwide monitoring program to confirm or deny the role of pesticides in CCD.
Quarle concludes: "If we do not take better care of our bees, there could be a significant impact on crop production. Some foods could become scarce and expensive. We should also treat our bees better because they are our friends, they enrich our planet, and it is the right thing to do."
Well said. Well said, indeed.
Michael "Kim" Fondrk