The buzz around UC Davis is about "The Wings of Life."
The Disneynature film, narrated by Meryl Streep, will be part of the "Evening of Inspiration" on Wednesday, July 24 at the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane.
Sponsoring the event, to be held from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m., is the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
The film, a French-American documentary about the precarious relationship between pollinators and flowers, is billed as a "Davis premier." It will be shown starting at 7:30 p.m. at the UC Davis Conference Center, said Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center. A discussion by filmmaker Louie Schwartzberg will follow. The conversation promises to be lively, inspirational and educational as the film focuses on such pollinators as bees, butterflies and bats.
Prior to the showing, guest will gather at 6:30 for honey tasting; music by Terry Press-Dawson; and education by pollinators.org. The UC Davis School of Education will co-sponsor the event.
The cost is $5 per person, with online registration encouraged. For online registration and more information, go to https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/83.
That's the buzz around UC Davis!
What a beauty.
But not nearly as striking as her male counterpart.
The flame skimmer dragonfly (Libellula saturata) owned a perch on a bamboo stake last Tuesday in residential Davis.
Davis resident Gary Zamzow, a dynamite insect photographer (especially bumble bees), pointed his Pentax camera at the insect, just inches away.
The dragonfly did not move.
“The female flame skimmers are not as intensely orange as the males are and they also have the expansions on the 7th abdominal tergite that you can see in your picture (below),” said senior museum entomologist Steve Heydon of the Bohart Museum of Entomology (http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/), University of California, Davis.
If you like dragonflies, you may want to purchase a dragonfly poster at the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, or online at its gift shop. It features 18 species of dragonfies, ranging from the common whitetail and green darner to the Western river cruiser and the bison snaketail. And, of course the flame skimmer.
Entomology doctoral candidate Fran Keller designed the poster with images provided and donated to the museum by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis.
What's better than a bee threading through a flowering artichoke? Two bees, a honey bee and a long-horned sunflower bee.
Flowering 'chokes are big draws for bees. Plant 'em, let 'em flower, and they will come. Sometimes in droves. Sometimes in diversity. Always amazing.
A male sunflower bee, Svastra obliqua expurgata, aka the long-horned sunflower bee, stopped foraging to look at us with his big green eyes.
An Italian honey bee, Apis mellifera, buzzing low and packing white pollen, ignored us.
From their missions they did not stray.
Honey bees are in trouble. They are dying in record numbers.
That's why you should watch "Blossom Buddies," a two-part video segment in the Growing California series, produced by the California Department of Food and Agriculture in partnership with California Grown.
The two-part series explores the honey bee's contributions to California agriculture, their declining population, and why we should be concerned about bee health. California has 800,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two hives for pollination. That's 1.6 million colonies. Since California has only 500,000 colonies available for almond pollination, the rest must be trucked here from throughout the country. This means, as the video relates, "the largest annual bee migration in the world" takes place in California during almond pollination season, which begins around Valentine's Day.
In Part 2 of the series, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, says that about 20 percent of beekeepers in California, as well as throughout the nation, "are suffering significant losses of honey bee populations that we can't explain."
The video series includes interviews with migratory beekeeper John Miller, almond grower/commercial queen breeder Dan Cummings, and Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. (That stands for Apis mellifera, the scientific name of the honey bee.)
The footage zeroes in on California almond orchards in bloom, beekeepers tending their bees, bees foraging, and Mussen working in the bee lab at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. The series also includes several photos from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Who could forget the look of colony collapse disorder, of a bee antenna poking through a cell of an abandoned frame? Or the blood-sucking varroa mite--the No. 1 enemy of beekeepers--sucking blood from a forager (worker bee) nectaring lavender? Or a mite draining blood from a drone pupa?
Or you can access Part 1 on YouTube at:
And Part 2 on YouTube at:
It's well-done production that looks at the challenges we face with our declining bee population and the crippling health issues that our bees face.
It's appropriate during National Pollinator Week to remember that.
We spotted this newly emerged green bottle fly (below) nectaring on lavender last week in our yard.
It seemed out of place among the honey bees, leafcutter bees and carpenter bees working the blossoms.
We didn't recognize it as a newly emerged green bottle fly, Lucilla sericata. But fly experts Martin Hauser of the California Department of Food and Agriculture and Terry Whitworth of Washington State University, did.
Family Calliphoridae. Genus Lucilla. Species sericata.
"This looks like a Calliphoridae which just emerged, so the wings are still folded," said senior insect biosystematist Hauser.
Said Whitworth, an adjunct professor of entomology at WSU who maintains the websites birdblowfly.com and blowflies.net: "This is a teneral fly, not fully sclerotized. You can see it just emerged and the wings have still not extended so identification can be tough. However, the shot clearly shows three postacrostichals which almost certainly makes it the common, cosmopolitan Lucilia sericata."
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of UC Davis marveled at the newly emerged fly. "Something dead in your yard?" he quipped.
"No," we said. "But the cat caught a rat the other day. We disposed of it quite quickly." Not the cat, the rat.
'Course, flies aren't known for being pollinators. They're better known--and rightfully so--for disposing of carrion and as the key tool in forensic entomology. They're also used in medical science as maggot therapy. And for art: one of Kimsey's former graduate students, forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaharty, coined the term "Maggot Art" (trademarked) and that's one of the activities at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Graduate and undergraduate students in the Department of Entomology and Nematology show youths how to dip a maggot in water-based, non-toxic paint, place it on white paper, and let it crawl. Voila! Maggot Art! Suitable for framing...
Everything in life--and death--has a purpose.