Posts Tagged: Allan Jones
The three queen bumble bees (Bombus melanopygus) we found buzzing around our porch light the night of Jan. 9 are still very much alive.
Who would have "thunk?"
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, is caring for them at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Thorp, who officially retired in 1994, maintains an active research and bee monitoring/identification program based as the Laidlaw facility. He recently co-authored a book on Bumble Bees of North America: An identification Guide (Princeton University Press), to be released in March.
So yesterday photographer/artist Allan Jones of Davis and I checked out "The Lovely Ladies at the Laidlaw." Yes, they're very much alive.
But it sure was strange on Jan. 9 to see them as as night fliers, or porch-light bumble bees. I figured they were parasitized. I figured that a florid fly, Apocephalus borealis, which lays its eggs in such insects as bumble bees, wasps and honey bees, had nailed them. I figured they'd be goners within a few days.
I hope I'm wrong.
It's long been known that Apocephalus borealis infests bumble bees. However, Professor John Hafernik of San Francisco State University and his colleagues caused quite a media stir when they discovered that this fly infests honey bees as well. They published their work, "A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly, Apocephalus borealis," in PLOS ONE back in January 2012. They revealed that the parasitized, disoriented honey bees (which they nicknamed "Zombies" or "ZomBees") leave their hives at night and head for the lights.
"After being parasitized by the fly, the bees abandon their hives in what is literally a flight of the living dead to congregate near lights," said Andrew Core of the Hafernik lab. 'When we observed the bees for some time—the ones that were alive—we found that they walked around in circles, often with no sense of direction."
Fingers crossed that the three queen bumble bees aren't parasitized. Fingers crossed that they will survive. Fingers crossed that they will continue to be "The Lovely Ladies at the Laidlaw."/span>
The three queen bumble bees (Bombus melanopygus). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bumble bee expert and UC Davis emeritus professor Robbin Thorp checks the trio. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Robbin Thorp saw it first.
Talk about an eagle eye.
Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, was monitoring the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, on July 23 when something caught his eye.
The California buckwheat was waving at him.
"While looking closely at the California buckwheat flower heads, I noticed a piece of one waving but there was no wind," recalled Thorp. "I watched a linear group of florets march across to another head. I tried to get a close-up on a flower head as background, but could not get the focus right."
So he placed the "unusual life form" on his finger to capture a better image. He captured it all right: a larva covered with buckwheat florets.
Later insect photographer Allan Jones of Davis, a regular visitor at the haven, obtained a spectacular photo of the camouflage.
Thorp identified the "unusual life form" as the larva of an emerald moth Synchlora (see http://bugguide.net/node/view/747823/bgimage). "The larva pupates with its camouflage still on then turns into a delicate green geometrid adult," he said. (See http://bugguide.net/node/view/316178/bgimage for the life cycle: caterpillar to moth).
Maybe it was serendipity, but Thorp found the larva during National Moth Week, July 23-29.
Larva of an emerald moth, Synchlora, disguised in florets. (Photo by Allan Jones)
Larva of an emerald moth, Synchlora, on Robbin Thorp's finger. (Photo by Robbin Thorp)
Davis photographer Gary Zamzow (far left); native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp (center), emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, and Davis photographer Allan Jones in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The photo just begs for a caption.
The praying mantis, with a female sweat bee grasped in its spiked forelegs, suddenly turns its head to look at the photographer.
Actually, three photographers: Davis insect photographers/bee enthusiasts Allan Jones and Gary Zamzow and I. We were shooting images in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
Jones, admiring the first image (below), commented "I love the way the mantis has set breakfast aside to stare directly at you." With that, Jones served up three captions:
"Oh, is that your bee?"
"What are you looking at?"
"Threat or prey?"
Meanwhile, we were obviously interrupting the praying mantid's bee breakfast.
"The female sweat bee is carrying some pollen she toiled to provide for her young," said native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "The mantid is also ducking under a spider webline, and needs to be careful that it does not become the meal of another sit and wait predator. It's a real jungle out there!"
Thorp, who has been monitoring the garden since October 2009, a year before it was planted, has so far discovered 75 different species of bees--and counting.
Yes, sometimes amid the predators and the prey, it's definitely a "real jungle out there."
What are you looking at? A praying mantis, with a female sweat bee grasped in its spiked forelegs, looks at the camera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Praying mantis continues to eat the sweat bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)