Posts Tagged: Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility
What's not to love about a baby bee?
At one day old, the worker (female) bees are exquisite little creatures. Helpless, really. They can neither flee nor fight; they cannot fly and they cannot sting.
No venom. That will come later.
They're all big eyes, fluffy hair and downy softness.
As worker bees, they will live a busy life. First they wiil become house bees, serving as the builders, the architects, the guards, the royal attendants, the coolers and the heaters, the nurse maids, the nannies and the undertakers.
Then they'll turn into field bees, leaving the hive to forage for nectar, pollen, water and propolis. They'll live only four to six weeks in the peak season.
"They're worked to death," entomologists are fond of saying.
That they are.
But on Day One, they rank so high on the cuteness scale that it needs to be recalibrated.
It's a story that began in May 1938 with a farmhouse-turned-lab-turned-eyesore. It will end with the honey bees' version of "A Field of Dreams"--the Campus Buzzway.
UC Davis firefighters torched the abandoned building in a control burn on June 30. Where flames erupted will be where California poppies, coreopsis (tickseed) and lupine will spring to life.
The Campus Buzzway will be planted this fall and will bloom starting next spring.
It all takes place on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis campus.
The Buzzway will be nestled adjacent to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden scheduled to open next month. The haven will serve as a year-around food source for honey bees. Goals also include raising public awareness about the plight of honey bees and encouraging visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, said entomologist Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
“The Campus Buzzway," Kimsey said, "will be a fabulous addition to the honey bee garden already under construction at our Bee Biology facility. “Both will greatly benefit our colonies and make terrific teaching opportunities.”
Dave Fujino, executive director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, said the Campus Buzzway will boast year-round blooms and vibrant colors. “The Buzzway will transform an empty field into something beautiful and functional,” he said. “Most importantly, the flower mix will have a positive impact on the health and wellness of our local pollinator populations.”
And oh, the gold and blue flowers planted in the Campus Buzzway have a special meaning to the university. They're the official colors of UC Davis, the Aggies.
To the bees, they're N and P: nectar and pollen.
Baxter House Fire
Honey Bee on Poppy
The bees have it.
That would be honey bees and native bees.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology has just launched its new bee biology Web site.
It's a place to learn about research, outreach, publications and upcoming courses; read the news stories, and follow the progress of the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden to be planted next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The people who make it happen--the honey bee team and the native bee team--share a passion well-known in the bee world.
The Web site also includes a kids' zone, links, photo gallery, and FAQs (how to remove stings and swarms, for example).
It wouldn't be a Web site without showcasing the work of Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr., the Houston-born bee geneticist (1907-2003) whose name is legendary with bee genetics. Known as "the father of honey bee genetics," he served on the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty from 1947 to 1974, when he "offically" retired.
Officially he did, but unofficially he didn't.
The emeritus professor continued his research and outreach programs, publishing his last scientific paper at age 87 and his last book at 90. He died at age 96 at his home in Davis.Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr. left a legacy of global influence, prominence and utmost dedication. The people he trained continue to work at the Laidlaw facility--and at other universities--carrying on his legacy while creating their own.
Working the Bees
The bees are dropping like flies--in swimming pools all over northern California during this triple-digit heat wave.
Honey bees collect water to aircondition their hive. They sip from bird baths, dripping faucets, water-splashed plants and even wet laundry hanging on the line. They return to their colony where they release droplets of water. The buzz of hundreds of wings fanning the hive sounds like hundreds of super-charged fans or a ramped-up swamp cooler.
"This hot weather is really hard on the bees," said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Unfortunately, bees searching for water can fall into swimming pools and perish. Last weekend we netted about a dozen bees from our pool. All survived but one. Another looked like a goner. The water-soaked bee stood on the net--nothing but net--all night long. The next morning she raised her head, spun her wings and buzzed off.
Really, I'm not into bee-ing a "bee lifeguard" or admininistering "bee CPR."
Let Me Bee
Today, in honor of National Pollinator Week, we turn to the Picris echioides.
You either hate it or love it. Honey bees love it. Gardeners hate it. ?If you plant a lawn with Picris echioides, expect a visit from Code Compliance.
What's Picris echioides? Think of it as a bright yellow flower with tap roots strong enough to withstand a nuclear war.?Think European invasive weed. ?And you get: bristly oxtongue.
It looks like somewhat like a dandelion or sowthistle. It’s a broadleafed biennial weed with toothed leaves (ox tongue) found throughout California. It’s an important source of nectar and pollen, especially in the spring during the early bee brood rearing when many other flowers aren't blooming.
Bees produce a dazzling honey with it: the color of amber and the aroma of a freshly picked floral bouquet.
Watch a bee nectaring a bristly oxtongue and you're in for a real treat--if you can get past "noxious weed" epithets or thoughts of waging a nuclear war.
The bees today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis were lovin' it.