The more we know about our pollinators, the better we'll be able to protect and sustain them.
Bee scientists from the UC Davis Department of Entomology will present four of the six talks at the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Pollinator Workshop, set Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Woodland.
The event, free and open to all interested persons, will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. in Norton Hall, 70 Cottonwood St.
Topics will include multiple stresses on honey bees; sustainable pollination strategies for specialty crops; native pollinators and squash and pumpkin pollination; insecticides, honey bees and hybrid onion seed production; and creating habit for pollinators, according to UCCE's Yolo County farm advisor Rachael Long.
The meeting is sponsored by UCCE and the Yolo County Resource Conservation District.
9 to 9:10 a.m.
Introductions and Updates: Rachael Long, farm advisor, UCCE Yolo County
9:10 – 9:35 a.m.
“Multiple Stresses are Hard on Honey Bees”: Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology
9:35 – 10 a.m.
“Sustainable Pollination Strategies for Specialty Crops”: Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
10 to 10:20 a.m.
“Native Pollinators and Squash and Pumpkin Pollination”: Katharina Ullmann, graduate student, Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology
10:20 – 10:40 a.m.
“Insecticides Reduce Honeybee Visitation and Pollen Germination in Hybrid Onion Seed Production”: Sandra Gillespie, postdoctoral researcher, Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
10:40 – 11 a.m.
“Creating Habitat for Pollinators”: Jessa Guisse of Sacramento, Pollinator Habitat Restoration specialist, The Xerces Society
Norton Hall is located between the UCCE office and the Agricultural Commissioner’s office.
For further information, contact Katie Churchill of UCCE, Woodland, at email@example.com or (530) 666-8143.
If you're interested in pollen and pollinators, you'll want to attend the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar at 12:10 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 1 in 122 Briggs Hall.
That's when T’ai Roulston, research associate professor and curator, State Arboretum of Virginia, will speak on "Pollen as a Resource for Pollinators: What Governs Quality?"
Pollen is a bee's protein. Nectar is a bee's sugar or carbohydrate.
T'ai Roulston will be speaking specifically on pollen. "Lab work using the sweat bee Lasioglossum zephyrum has shown that protein concentration of pollen may dramatically influence offspring size," he says.
"T'ai's work on native bees and insect-plant interactions includes pollination biology, foraging ecology, nesting biology, life-history as well as some work on multi-trophic interactions," said host Neal Williams, assistant professor. (Williams is currently in Japan to present a lecture at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation, set Jan. 27-29 in Fukuoka.)
Roulston says on his website:
"My primary research area is plant-pollinator interactions, which I study through field and laboratory approaches." These include
1. Studies of pollen chemistry, particularly protein, to characterize the diversity of pollen nutrient rewards and their effects on pollinator host plant choice and larval development;
2. Specialization/Generalization in plant-pollinator interactions
Other research areas include endangered species conservation, habitat fragmentation, foraging behavior and nestmate recognition in social Hymenoptera, and the impact of exotic species on native organisms.
Coordinating the UC Davis Department of Entomology winter seminar series are assistant professors Louie Yang and Joanna Chiu.
If you can't make it to the the lecture, Professor James R. Carey plans to video-record it. It will be posted in about two weeks on UCTV.
Izzo, who finished her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology last year at the University of Michigan, where she worked with Elizabeth Tibbetts on wasp communication and sexual selection, will speak on "Spotting the Top Male: Sexual Selection in a Lekking Paper Wasp." (Lekking means to engage in courtship displays.)
The seminar is sponsored by the Animal Behavior Graduate Group, which is hosting a series of winter-quarter seminars every Friday at noon in 6 Olson Hall. The series began Jan. 13 and will continue through March 16.
“Sexual selection has seen many advances over the past several decades, yet many questions remain,” said Izzo in her abstract. "Polistes dominulus paper wasps are a good system in which to study sexual selection, as males have a lek-based mating system and sexually dimorphic abdominal spots.
“Here, I demonstrate that these spots are used in both inter- and intra-sexual selection. Males with smaller, elliptically-shaped spots are more dominant over male rivals and are more preferred by females than males with larger, irregularly shaped spots. Additionally, the spots are condition-dependent and advertise quality.
“Further, spots function as signals: males with experimentally reduced abdominal spots win a greater proportion of fights and are preferred by females as mates over control males. Finally, female choice for attractive spots results in direct benefits to females. Females mated to males advertising high quality survive hibernation longer than females mated to males that advertise low quality. These results demonstrate that male ornaments are an important mediator of mating dynamics in paper wasps, and that females can gain direct benefits in non-economic mating systems. ”
Last summer we spotted her subject--Polistes dominulus--on a leaf in our backyard.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, confirmed the identification. "Note the clean black and yellow coloration and the two circular spots on the second abdominal segment," she said.
(Michigan State University has some interesting information posted on this wasp. It's an Old World Species with a native range from Europe to China. It was first discovered in the United States--Cambridge, Massachusetts--in 1981.)
About Mandy Izzo: she initially accepted a postdoctoral researcher position in the UC Davis Department of Entomology involving honey bees but is now affiliated with the UC Davis Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology and hopes to work on animal coloration projects.
She holds a master’s degree in biology from California State University, Northridge (2005) and a bachelor’s degree in integrative biology from UC Berkeley (2001).
Pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis, will be one of the featured speakers at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation, to be held Jan. 27-29 in Fukuoka, Japan.
His talk will explore agricultural landscape change and the role of bee life history in predicting and understanding responses of bee communities. The conference, sponsored by the Japan Society of the Promotion of Science and themed "Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators: Towards Global Assessments," will take place on the Hakozaki campus, Kyushu University.
Williams is the only invited speaker from California. (See his lab research)
“Bees provide a critical ecosystem service for humanity through their pollination of crops worldwide,” said Williams, who will speak on “Bee Life History and Resource Distributions Determine Population and Community Responses to Agricultural Landscape Change.”
“There is increasing recognition of the contributions of wild species to crop pollination and their role in sustainable pollination into the future. The persistence of wild bee species depends on the availability of essential nesting sites and forage resources within the landscape. Agriculture management can profoundly change the abundance and distribution of these resources over time and space."
“Because bee species differ in specific nesting and forage requirements, there is the potential for land transformation to filter wild bee communities based on such ecological traits,” Williams said. “I will present two separate studies from central California exploring the role nesting and forage resources in determining bee responses to agricultural intensification. The first study explores the effects of bee life history traits and resource distributions on observed changes in bee communities between semi-natural and farmland components of an agricultural landscape.
“I will use a combination of empirical data sampled over multiple landscapes and spatial modeling of bee communities to reveal the relative importance of forage and nesting resources to bee responses. The second study focuses on the bumble bee Bombus vosnesenskii. I will use empirical data on bumble bee colony performance and a spatially-explicit model of floral abundance to quantify the importance the forage-resource landscape in determining worker and queen production.”
Williams pointed out that “the abundance of forage strongly affected worker production; however, it was most sensitive to early season resources. Spatio-temporal variation in the resource landscape across the season reduced the overall effect of the forage landscape on queen production. Nonetheless consistent forage resources are key to the persistence of bumble bee populations in this region.”
The group meets three times a year: once in Sacramento, once at UC Davis and once at Concord. Dues? $10 a year. Membership is open to all interested persons.
At the next meeting, set from 9:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 2 in the California Department of Food and Agriculture's Plant Diagnostics Lab, 3288 Meadowview Drive, featured insects include: a parasitic fly that lays its eggs in a honey bee, European grapevine moth, and the Western flower thrips.
One of the San Francisco State University researchers who drew international attention for a journal article on the parasitic fly that infests honey bees will be among the speakers.
John Hafernik, professor in the Biology Department, San Francisco State University, will speak on “Attack of the Zombie-Bee Fly (Apocephalus borealis) on Honey Bees” at 1:15 p.m.
The research, which took place in the Hafernik lab, led to the publication of "A New Threat to Honey Bees, the Parasitic Phorid Fly (Apocephalus borealis) in the Jan. 3rd edition of PLoS Journal.
University Communications wrote in a news release: "The fly, Apocephalus borealis, deposits its eggs into a bee’s abdomen. Usually about seven days after the bee dies, fly larvae push their way into the world from between the bee’s head and thorax. But it’s the middle part of this macabre story that may be the most scientifically interesting to those studying the dramatic and mysterious disappearance of honey bees.
"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. '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,' said Andrew Core, an SF State graduate student from Hafernik’s lab who is the lead author on the study."
Hafernik was quoted in the news release: “We don’t know the best way to stop parasitization, because one of the big things we’re missing is where the flies are parasitizing the bees. We assume it’s while the bees are out foraging, because we don’t see the flies hanging around the bee hives. But it’s still a bit of a black hole in terms of where it’s actually happening.”
Should be a fascinating talk!
The Nor-Cal Entomology Society schedule includes:
Registration and coffee
“UC Davis Contained Research Facility: Its Role in Research for Guiding Regulations”-- Kris Godfrey, associate project scientist, Contained Research Facility (CRF), University of California, Davis. She was a scientist with the Biological Control Program, California Department of Food and Agriculture, before joining CRF in August 2001.
“Agriculture, Pesticides, and Biological Control: Comparing Chile and California” -- Michael Parrella, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology
“Alterations of Feeding Behavior of Frankliniella occidentalis by Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus: Implications for Western Flower Thrips Control” -- Candice Stafford, doctoral candidate in Plant Pathology, UC Davis, and a student of Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and the associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
12:00 Lunch – Group will order out ($15)
“Attack of the Zombie-Bee Fly (Apocephalus borealis) on Honey Bees” -- John Hafernik, Department of Biology, San Francisco State University.
“Forensic Entomology and Its Potential Role in Fire Death Investigations” -- forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, UC Davis Department of Entomology
“An Update on the California European Grapevine Moth (Lobesia botrana) Management Program in Contra Costa County” -- Lucia Varela, UC North Coast IPM Advisor
The Northern California Entomology Society is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons. The group meets the first Thursday in February at the CDFA Plant Diagnostics Lab; the first Thursday in May at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; and the first Thursday in November in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District conference room, Concord.
Newly elected president of the group is Robert "Bob" Case of Concord, retired deputy agricultural commissioner from the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture. He holds a master's degree from San Francisco State University in ecology and systematics and has taught biology and environmental classes at many Bay Area community colleges for some 25 years. Active in the California Native Plant Society, he frequently speaks at plant/garden club meetings on pest management and wildflower photography.
For further information on the Feb. 2nd meeting, contact secretary-treasurer Eric Mussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 752-0472. Mussen is an Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.