Posts Tagged: Robbin Thorp
"Go native" with native bees, that is.
A bee condo is a block of wood drilled with specially sized holes for nesting sites. Bees lay their eggs, provision the nests, and then plug the holes. Months later, the offspring will emerge.
In our backyard, we provide bee condos for BOBs (short for blue orchard bee) and leafcutter bees.
In the summer it's fun watching the leafcutter bees snip leaves from our shrubbery and carry them back to their bee condo. It's easy to tell the nesting sites apart: BOB holes are larger and plugged with mud, while the leafcutter bee holes are smaller and plugged with leaves.
Osmia lignaria, a native species of North America, is sold commercially for use in orchard crop pollination.
If you want to learn how to build them or where to buy them, Thorp has kindly provided a list of native bee nesting site resources on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility website. You can also purchase them at many beekeeping supply stores. (Also check out the Xerces Society's website information.)
Better yet, if you'd like to learn more about native bees and their needs, be sure to register online for the Pollinator Gardening Workshop on Saturday, March 15 on the UC Davis campus. Hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture, it begins at 7:30 a.m. in Room 1001 of Giedt Hall and ends at 2 p.m. with a plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery and a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. For the small fee of $40 you'll receive a continental breakfast and box lunch and return home with an unbee-lievable wealth of knowledge. Speakers will include several honey bee and native bee experts: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp; pollination ecologist Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. See the complete list on the website.
You'll be hearing from Robbin, Neal and Eric, but you'll be thinking about BOB.
Leafcutting bees heading home to their condo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, shows Danielle Wishon of the California Department of Food and Agriculture a bee condo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue orchard bees on display at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bee nesting sites shown March 2 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
We're accustomed to seeing honey bees pollinating the almonds.
But carpenter bees do, too.
We spotted a female Valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa varipuncta, foraging in an almond tree on Feb. 24 in a field adjacent to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
Sounding like a Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, this lone carpenter bee buzzed loudly as she visited one blossom after another. She was on a mission: a do-not-linger, do-not-stop-me, and get-out-of-my-way mission.
The Valley carpenter bees, about the size of bumble bees, are the largest carpenter bees in California. The girls are solid black, while the boys are blond with green eyes. We can't count how many times people think the males are "golden bumble bees."
It's rare to get an image of "a blond and a brunette" (male and female) in the same photo. Gary Park, a contributor to BugGuide.net, did just that. Check out his amazing photos of a pair mating.
Carpenter bees derive their name from drilling holes in untreated, unfinished wood to make their nests. Only the females excavate the wood. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not eat the wood. To prevent these bees from nesting in your fence posts or deck, just paint or varnish the wood. We know some folks who like having them around and leave wood untreated and unfinished.
First and foremost, however, carpenter bees are pollinators. Excellent pollinators.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor entomology at UC Davis, tries to convince people to live with these bees as “they are important pollinators in our environment and have potential as pollinators of some crops.”
A female Valley carpenter bee buzzes in the almond blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Full speed ahead: carpenter bee sights an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Female Valley carpenter bee meets almonds blossom. She's shaking her thoracic muscles to loosen the pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The event, hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCHU), based at UC Davis, will take place at Giedt Hall, UC Davis campus, with a side trip to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden, just west of the campus, on Bee Biology Road.
Registration is underway at on the CCHU website.
CCHU program manager Anne Schellman says that this will be an informative workshop where participants will learn:
- How to identify common bee pollinators
- How to make a landscape pollinator-friendly
- Which plants pollinators prefer
- The latest research about honey bee health and pollinator habitat
- How UC Davis helps honey bees at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Garden
Honey bee and native pollinator specialists with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will be among the speakers.
Please pick up materials and enjoy coffee and a light breakfast
Dave Fujino, director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis
Edwin Lewis, professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
8 to 8:40
The Buzz about Bees: Attracting and Observing Bees in Your Garden
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
Habitat Enhancements to Support Bees: Agriculture to Urban Research
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, associate professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
Honey Bee Health: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
Plants for Pollinators: Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture, UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, UC Davis
Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven Garden Update: What's New in the Garden?
Christine Casey, manager of Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis
11:30 Pick up box lunch
Open house at Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road (It's located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility)
Questions and answers with Robbin Thorp and Christine Casey
1 to 2
Special plant sale for Pollinator Workshop attendees
Arboretum Teaching Nursery, Garrod Drive
This is a great opportunity to learn more about the pollinators we see in our garden, ranging from honey bees and bumble bees to long-horned bees and metallic green sweat bees--and what to plant to attract them. Three of the speakers (Eric Mussen, Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp) were members of the "UC Davis Bee Team" that won the outstanding team award last year from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. The other team members were assistant professor Brian Johnson and professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
See website for registration and more information, or contact Anne Schellman at email@example.com.
Honey bee foraging on flowering quince. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The three queen bumble bees (Bombus melanopygus) we found circling our porch lights the night on Jan. 9 appear to be fine.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, cared for them at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility from Jan. 9 through Jan. 22. Were they parasitized? Curious minds wanted to know.
We speculated that a parasitoid florid fly, Apocephalus borealis, which lays its eggs in bumble bees, wasps and honey bees, may have accounted for the strange behavior of the queens' "red-eye" flight. Were they "zombie" bees?
Result: No signs of parasitism. No sign of being "zombie" bumble bees. Nothing.
So this morning we released them back into their habitat. Two of the queens buzzed off immediately, while the third lingered. She foraged on the nearby pansies, considered a nuc box for her home, sipped some honey, buzzed back into the nuc box, foraged on some more pansies, sipped some more honey, and then buzzed back into the nuc box.
Her new home? Maybe.
However, we still don't know why the three bumble bee queens were buzzing around at night. We may never know.
Thorp said it best: "It was probably the Girls' Night Out."/span>
Newly released queen bumble bee foraging on pansies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sip of honey to fuel her flight. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Queen bumble bee heads into the entrance of a nuc box, which may be her new home. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
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)