Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, makes seven good points in his piece on honey bee health published in the Jan. 18th edition of The Daily Green.
Scientists, he writes, don't know what exactly causes colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood and food stores.
But Flottum says, all this research on what ails them provides insight on what will help them. He lists seven key maladies that may be contributing to CCD.
One of them is poor nutrition.
"Honey bees forced to dine on only a single source of pollen have problems. Imagine living for a month on only Twinkies. The first one is great, the second good... the 123rd is disgusting, and, you are slowly starving to death. When researchers looked closely at the diet for our honey bees, they saw the problem and today--after four years--there are almost a dozen healthy food choices on the market we can feed our bees (including Megabee and Nozeivit, sold by Dadant; Ultra-Bee, sold by Mann Lake; and Feed Bee, sold by Ellingsons’s Inc.) That's progress. (But look at your grocery store and see how many kinds of dog food there are... wouldn't you think hard working honey bees should have the same choices?).
Flottum advocates diversity in the diet--and rightfully so.
"Make sure bees have a diverse and varied diet. Many floral sources are needed for a healthy, wholesome, season-long diet. And make sure those flowers have not been sprayed with the new insecticides and fungicides that are so detrimental to the young. And feeding bees is a good idea. Use one of the newer substitute diets available from the supply companies and feed whenever there's a food shortage or lack of variety. It will only help."
Check out the other six maladies contributing to a honey bee's poor health. We're all in this together, and together we can improve their health.
The Bohart Museum, located on the University of California, Davis campus at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, is home to more than seven million insect specimens, plus a live “petting zoo” that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The butterfly specimens range from the big and bold to the small and shy. Of special regional interest is the cabbage white butterfly; a contest is under way to find the 'first of the year" in the three-county area of Yolo, Solano or Sacramento.
The museum’s regular hours are from 8:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It is closed on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
To accommodate families and other area residents who are unable to attend the regular visiting hours, Mondays through Thursdays, the Bohart began offering special weekend hours last year.
Events scheduled this year, in addition to the Jan. 23 opening, are:
Saturday, Feb. 26: “Meet the Beetles,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday, March 13: “The Ants Go Marching On,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Saturday, April 16: “UC Davis Picnic Day,” all day
Saturday, May 7: “Moth-ers Day,” featuring moths, 1 to 4 p.m.
Sunday, June 5: “June Bugs,” 1 to 4 p.m.
Cabbage white butterflies are the focus of Art Shapiro's 40th annual Cabbage White Butterfly Competition, which began Jan. 1, 2011.
Shapiro, a noted butterfly expert and a professor in the Department of Evolution and Ecology, sponsors the annual contest to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight. The first person to collect a cabbage white in Yolo, Solano or Sacramento will win a pitcher of beer or the equivalent. So far, no winner.
"I had predicted the first rapae would be between Jan 17 and Jan. 21, based on my own projection of a 3-week January dry spell," Shapiro said today. "The projection was right on, but the bug may well not be out by then."
Shapiro usually wins his own contest, but so far, no cabbage whites. However, he's been finding other members of Lepidoptera. "I did my Gates Canyon site (Vacaville) on Saturday--it was 65F!--and had a male Buckeye and 3 moth species, one being the wonderful BearSphinx, Arctonotus lucidus."
We expect to hear any day now that he's found the first cabbage white.
The R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is dedicated to teaching, research and service. Founded in 1946 by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart, it houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
The Bohart Museum also includes a gift shop, where visitors can purchase t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, note cards, books, posters, insect candy and other gifts. The insect candy includes chocolate-covered ants and crickets.
More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-9464.
Ask any entomology student and it means "Bring Your Own Bug."
And that's exactly what the UC Davis Linnaean Team did this morning during an interview with the TV anchors of Good Day Sacramento.
By request, the team members brought along their favorite bugs: Madagascar hissing cockroaches (see hisser at right) and assorted walking sticks, all from the Bohart Museum of Entomology; and soapberry bugs from professor Sharon Lawler's lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
The TV station labeled the event "a bug invasion."
And indeed it was.
Extension entomologist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty coaches the team, which includes graduate students Andrew Merwin (who studies with major professor Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology), Meredith Cenzer (major professor Louie Yang), Matan Shelomi (major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology) and prospective graduate student Ralph Washington, who received his bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Davis in 2010.
They competed last December in the national Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type competition that's a traditional part of the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting. Teams answer questions about insects and entomologists and compete for the championship. Ohio State University won the 2010 championship, defeating the University of Nebraska.
But, back to the bugs at the TV station...
Godfrey quizzed the anchors on their knowledge of insects. Each time an anchor answered a question incorrectly, he received temporary custody of a bug.
The final score: Bugs 3; Anchors, 0.
Name the title of the Robert Frost poem that includes this line: “An ant on a table cloth ran into a dormant moth of many times his size.”
No, not "Ants in Your Pants." The answer: “Departmental.”
Another question: “What insect was used as a symbol for the film, The Silence of the Lambs, and what is unusual about the insect’s food habits?”
"No, little more detail, little more detail,” Godfrey coaxed. The answer. “Death’s-Head Hawkmoth” and it raids bee hives (Apis mellifera) for the honey.
The third question dealt with the vedalia beetle: “Where was the vedalia beetle released for the control of cottony cushion scale and what industry did it save?”
“The Southeast" and "Cotton"? No.
“It was released in California," Godfrey said, "and it saved the citrus industry."
The UC Davis team now heads to the next competition, the Linnaean Games at the ESA Pacific Branch meeting, set March 27-30 in Hawaii. Each ESA branch can send two teams to the nationals. Reno is hosting the ESA's 59th annual meeting Nov. 13-16.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum should be drawing lots of visitors. It's located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, UC Davis. Admission is free. Visiting hours: Mondays through Thursdays. Times: 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 5 p.m.
Pop quiz: How many bugs at the Bohart? More than 7 million specimens. Plus, there's the "live petting zoo" where you can touch the hissers and walking sticks...including the ones on the TV show...
The industrious honey bee buzzed around a lot during the Linnaean Games at the Entomological Society of America’s recent meeting in San Diego.
Not the honey bee itself—questions about the honey bee.
The Linnaean Games, a college-bowl type quiz featuring insects, entomologists and entomological facts, drew nine teams, with Ohio State University defeating the Univesity of Nebraska in the championship game.
But back to the bees. One of the questions asked was: “The monarch (butterfly) is actually the second most popular state insect. What insect is the most frequently adopted state insect?”
You guessed it—the honey bee.
Another time the Linnaean judging panel posted a photo on the screen and asked the Linnaean teams: “Considering this pest of honey bee hives, what is its common name and the family to which it belongs?”
It was the small hive beetle, Nitidulidae.
Can you answer these questions? (Answers at the end)
1. The order name Hymenoptera can be interpreted as meaning “membranous wing” or “married wing,” which refers to the way the front and hind wings of bees and wasps are linked by little hooks. What is the name of these hooks?
2. How many eyes does a honey bee have?
3. Problems with honey bee hives in what state led to the recognition of colony collapse disorder?
4. What Greek city state used the honey bee as a symbol on its coins?
5. In apiculture, what is the term used to describe the dark discoloration on the surface of comb honey left on the hive for some time, caused by bees tracking propolis over the surface?
1. Hamuli, which are the leading edge of the hind wing.
2. Five: two compound and three ocelli
5. Travel stain
If you got all five right, you're probably an apiculturist. Three to four right, you probably keep bees. One to two right? You've (1) been around bees, (2) listen to the news, or (3) you're related to a beekeeper. Miss all five? You may want to take a course, read a book, or visit an apiary to learn more about these tiny agricultural workers.
If there's anything better than one ladybug, it's two ladybugs.
And if there's anything better than two ladybugs, it's a cluster of ladybugs.
Our bee friendly garden is devoid of bees, but about 12 ladybugs are overwintering near the house. Some are in the artemsia bush, and others are in the folds of tangerine leaves.
Like postal carriers, they're weathering the driving rain, the bitter cold and the harsh winds. At times it seems like they're puppies cuddling to stay warm.
Ladybugs, aka ladybird beetles, aka lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) are beneficial bugs. They're predators and rid the garden of aphids, scale insects, mites, mealybugs and other soft-bodied insects.
Soon, as spring approaches, they'll do just that.