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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 666-8143.
Thomas Seeley has. Many times.
"Choosing the right dwelling place is a life-or-death matter for a honeybee colony," he writes in his book, Honeybee Democracy. "If a colony chooses poorly, and so occupies a nest cavity that is too small to hold the honey stores to survive winter, or that provides it with poor protection from cold winds and hungry marauders, then it will die."
Seeley, a professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University, where he teaches courses in animal behavior and does research on the functional organization of honey bee colonies, will present two lectures this week on the UC Davis campus.
Seeley will speak on “Swarm Intelligence in Honey Bees” from 4:10 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19 in 2 Wellman Hall as part of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology’s winter seminar series. Host is Rick Grosberg, professor of evolution and ecology.
Then on Friday, Jan. 20, Seeley will speak on “The Flight Guidance Mechanisms of Honey Bee Swarms" at 12:10 p.m. in 6 Olsen Hall as part of the UC Davis Animal Behavior Group’s winter seminar series. His host will be Brian Johnson, assistant professor at the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Of his Thursday talk, Seeley says: “Swarm intelligence is the solving of a cognitive problem by two or more individuals who independently collect information and process it through social interactions. With the right organization, a group can overcome the cognitive limitations of its members and achieve a high collective IQ. To understand how to endow groups with swarm intelligence, it is useful to examine natural systems that have evolved this ability. An excellent example is a swarm of honey bees solving the life-or-death problem of finding a new home. A honey bee swarm accomplishes this through a process that includes collective fact-finding, open sharing of information, vigorous debating, and fair voting by the hundreds of bees in a swarm that function as nest-site scouts.”
Seeley said he will show “how these incredible insects have much to teach us when it comes to achieving collective wisdom and effective group decision making.”
Seeley, who grew up in Ithaca, N.Y., began keeping and studying bees while a high school student. He left Ithaca in 1970 to attend college at Dartmouth, but he returned home each summer to work for Roger A. Morse at the Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell University. There he learned the craft of beekeeping and “began probing the inner workings of the honey bee colony. “
Thoroughly intrigued by the smooth functioning of bee colonies, Seeley went on to graduate school at Harvard University, earning his doctorate in 1978.
Seeley subsequently taught at Yale for six years, then worked his way home to Ithaca/Cornell in 1986, "where I’ve been ever since.”
In recognition of his scientific work, Seeley has received the Senior Scientist Prize of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; a Guggenheim Fellowship, and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Seeley’s research focuses on the internal organization of honey bee colonies. His work is summarized in three books: "Honeybee Ecology" (1985, Princeton University Press), 'The Wisdom of the Hive" (1995, Harvard University Press), and "Honeybee Democracy" (2010, Princeton University Press).
You don't usually see "honey bees" and "malaria" in the same sentence.
That won't be the case, though, when Joseph DeRisi, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator and professor and vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, comes to the UC Davis campus to lecture on Monday, Jan. 9.
His presentation, "A Seminar in Two Acts: Honey Bees and Malaria," is from 10 to 11 a.m. in the main auditorium (Room 2005) of the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility.
The seminar, open to all interested persons, is sponsored by the Biological Networks Focus Group of the Genome Center. Host is Oliver Fiehn, professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Genome Center.
DeRisi, a molecular biologist and biochemist, was named the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Grant (also known as "the genius award") in 2004. In 2008, DeRisi won the Heinz Award for Technology, the Economy and Employment. Among his many accomplishments: he designed and programmed a groundbreaking tool for finding (and fighting) viruses -- the ViroChip, a DNA microarray that test for the presence of all known viruses in one step.
The DeRisi lab drew international attention last year with publications in Public Library of Science journals.
Chemical Rescue of Malaria Parasites Lacking an Apicoplast Defines Organelle Function in Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum (published in PLoS Biology, August 2011)
Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia (published in PLoS One, June, 2011)
Among those working on the honey bee research and co-authoring the PLoS One paper was insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, a postdoctoral fellow in the Raul Andino lab at UC San Francisco and the recipient of the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellowship in Honey Bee Biology at UC Davis.
Among DeRisi's collaborators on malaria research is UC Davis molecular biologist Shirley Luckhart, professor in the Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology and an advisor in the Entomology Graduate Program.
DeRisi, who received his Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1999 from Stanford University, does amazing work.
He's a genius, to be sure.
Check out these links:
Joseph DeRisi Lab, UC San Francisco
Joe DeRisi: Biochemist (featured in TED ("Technology, Entertainment, Design" is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.)
Conversation with Joe DeRisi (New York Times)
Solving Medical Mysteries (YouTube)
Hunting the Next Killer Virus (YouTube)
Joseph DeRisi: Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Joseph DeRisi in Wikipedia
The news that flashed across the Internet today indicates there's a new threat to honey bees, a parasitic phorid fly.
UC San Francisco researchers, in an article published today in the Public Library of Science (PLoS One), wrote in their abstract: "Honey bee colonies are subject to numerous pathogens and parasites. Interaction among multiple pathogens and parasites is the proposed cause for Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), a syndrome characterized by worker bees abandoning their hive. Here we provide the first documentation that the phorid fly Apocephalus borealis, previously known to parasitize bumble bees, also infects and eventually kills honey bees and may pose an emerging threat to North American apiculture. Parasitized honey bees show hive abandonment behavior, leaving their hives at night and dying shortly thereafter."
Should beekeepers be worried? Should they lose any sleep over this?
Noted honey bee expert, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, says "no"--at least not on the level of fly parasitism actually causing CCD or great losses.
Mussen, who was not involved in the study, says that the scientific paper "explains why some infested, honey bee adults leave the colony at night and are not likely to come back. The percent infestation level is not high enough to cause a CCD loss by itself."
Mussen attributes CCD to a suppressed immune system, probably caused by a combination of factors such as pests, parasites, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and stress. The fly does not appear to be a dominant factor.
However, as Mussen told Erik Stokstad in today's Science article,"Parasitic Fly Dooms Bees to Death by Maggots: "Anything that further stresses the bee population and increases bee losses can contribute to CCD."
The key word is "contribute." The fly may be "contributing" to the loss of adult bees from colonies, but that is probably also happening in colonies that are NOT collapsing, Mussen points out.
"How likely is it that colonies will succumb to this new threat of fly infestations?" we asked Mussen today after a host of articles appeared on the Internet.
Indeed, some news reports describe the infected bee as a "zombie bee."
"If the colony is shrinking abnormally, the bees often can re-establish the normal size by rearing 'extra' brood," Mussen told us. "However, depending upon the inherent genetic abilities of a specific colony to tolerate fly parasitism, some colonies might be prone to developing parasite levels that are overwhelming, and actually succumb to the infestations."
Honey bees, Mussen said, have "an amazing ability to make up for" unanticipated losses--like exposures to bee-toxic agrichemicals in the fields--to the adult population by rearing more brood than would be expected at that time of the year to return to normal populations size.
Mussen will discuss threats to the honey bee when he delivers the keynote speech, "Never Expect 'Business as Usual'" at the 43rd annual American Honey Producers' Association Convention, set Jan. 4-8 in Phoenix, Ariz.
Bottom line: The current U.S. environment seems to be very stressful to honey bees, with or without the parasitic florid fly.
This fly appears to be another ointment in a bee's ill health.
When California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) bloom and honey bees battle over the blossoms, can spring be far behind?
No, it's just California's pleasant weather. The California poppy, the state flower, usually blooms from February to September, but sometimes in a warm, sheltered area, you'll find it blooming in the dead of winter--and honey bees foraging among the blossoms.
Such is the case over on Garrod Drive by the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery. The asphalt from the parking lot generates quite a big of heat--and coupled with the sun, that's plenty of warmth for golden poppies to flourish.
It's a sight to bee-hold when Apis mellifera and Eschscholzia californica meet in December.