It's indeed an honor--a sweet one.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, was recently inducted into the California Floriculture Hall of Fame at a ceremony in San Diego.
Mike Mellano Sr., of Mellano & Company, Oceanside, presented Parrella with the plaque. Mellano was himself inducted into the California Floriculture Hall of Fame in 1990.
"I've known Mike since he came to California in the early '80s," Mellano said. "He first began working with us on the leafminer and chrysanthemum project, and has been doing a lot of work for the growers."
"He is a world-class scientist and has done a lot for the industry," Mellano said, adding "My only regret is that we weren't able to get more funding for him."
The award, sponsored by the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation, was presented at the Society of American Florists’ Pests and Production Management Conference. The plaque reads: "In recognition of innovative and selfless contribution of enduring value to the Floriculutre and Ornamental Industry, the Kee Kitayama Research Foundation hereby inducts Dr. Michael P. Parrella into the California Floriculture Hall of Fame, February 25, 2011.”
Parrella, who holds a joint appointment in the Department of Plant Sciences, develops integrated pest management (IPM) strategies for ornamental crops, with an emphasis on biological control. He is widely known for his applied research that that includes floriculture crops, nursery and bedding plants and landscape plants in the urban environment. In 1985, he initiated what has become an annual conference on insect and disease management on ornamentals. The event is sponsored by the Society of American Florists.
The names of hall of fame inductees will be engraved on permanent plaques at the San Francisco Flower Market, the Los Angeles Flower Market and the San Diego International Floral Trade Center. (Michael Reid, an emeritus professor of plant sciences, UC Davis, will be inducted later this year.)
San Francisco...Los Angeles...San Diego...
The Veterans' Memorial Hall in Sebastopol is the place to "bee" on Saturday, March 19.
That's when and where the fifth annual Bee Symposium will take place.
And and one of the speakers is none other than MacArthur Fellow Marla Spivak, professor of apiculture at the University of Minnesota.
Remember Marla Spivak? Last year she was singled out as one of the recipients of the $500,000 MacArthur or "genius" awards.
The Bee Symposium, open to the public ($30 for tickets in advance or $35 at the door), is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The site is at 282 S. High St., Sebastopol.
Marla Spivak will give two talks--one on "Socialized Medicine in Honey Bee Colonies" in the morning, and the other on "Bee Health and Breeding" in the afternoon.
UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and staff have participated in the Bee Symposium for the past several years. They include Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; and bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.
Spivak has close ties to UC Davis. She studied with Thorp and other volunteer instructors at the 2010 The Bee Course, Portal, Ariz. This is an annual workshop intended for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees. Spivak has also done research with Mussen and Cobey.
In her morning talk, Spivak will discuss propolis, which bees collect from tree resins and use as "glue." However, propolis is more than just a glue, Spivak says. It helps the immune system of individual bees. And, she says, "we are also exploring the antimicrobial properties of propolis, using modern and analytical methods, to test the activity of different sources of propolis against bee viruses and bee bacterial pathogens."
In her afternoon talk, "Bee Health and Breeding," Spivak will cover hygienic behavior or how well bees detect diseases and parasitized brood in their colonies and remove the unhealthy brood. "We are now working one-on-one with commercial bee breeders in northern California to help them enhance their tried-and-true stocks by selecting for hygienic behavior," she says. "The goal is to maintain genetic diversity while improving mite disease and mite resistance in our bees."
Two other speakers are billed, and each also will present two talks. Acupuncturist Frederique Keller of Northport, N.Y., president of the American Apitherapy Society, will speak on “Medicinal Use of Raw Honey, Pollen, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Bee Bread and Beeswax” and “Bee Venom Therapy: Historical Perspective into Modern Applications.”
Retired physician Ron Fessenden of Colorado Springs, Co., author of “The Honey Revolution: Restoring the Health of Future Generations” and other books on honey, will speak on “The Revolutionary Effects of Honey on Human Metabolism” and “How to Sleep Your Way to Better Health with Honey.”
For tickets, see the Beekind website or contact Katia Vincent of Beekind at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proceeds will benefit three organizations: the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees and Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
So, if you want to learn more about bees and their products, this is definitely the place to "bee."
Unlike the Saints, the ants won't "go marching in"; they'll be "marching on."
The "Ants Go Marching On” will set the theme for the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, March 13 at 1124 Academic Surge, California Drive, UC Davis campus.
There you can learn about ants from myrmecologists--those are the folks who study ants.
Admission is free.
Ant specialist and doctoral candidate Bonnie Blaimer of the Phil Ward lab will engage the visitors with a slide show of a collecting trip to Madagascar. She and fellow doctoral candidate Marek Borowiec, also of the Phil Ward lab, will be discussing characteristics of ants and answering questions.
The Bohart is home to more than seven million insects.
“The Hymenoptera (bees, ants and wasps) form about 30 percent of the Bohart collection,” said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
The Bohart Museum also has a live “petting zoo” that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks; and a gift shop where visitors can purchase such items as t-shirts, sweat shirts, posters, jewelry and insect candy.
The R. M. Bohart Museum of Entomology, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, was founded in 1946 by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart. Dedicated to teaching, research and service, it houses the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
The museum holds specimens collected worldwide and is the home of the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity of California’s deserts, mountains, coast and great central valley.
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. More information is available on the Bohart website or by contacting Tabatha Yang at email@example.com or (530) 752-9464. Due to limited space, group tours will not be booked during the weekend hours.
Growing almonds isn't all it's cracked up to be.
The next time you're enjoying a ice cream bar coated with almonds or a salad with toasted almonds, think not only about the honey bees, but the growers.
The Almond Board of California recently reported that "Despite the higher yields and increased efficiencies California almond growers have gained over the years, the costs associated with growing almonds have risen dramatically while net returns per acre have shrunk."
A study by Cooperative Extension Specialist Karen Klonsky of the UC Davis Agricultural and Resource Economics showed that the total cost of producing an acre of almond is $3,897.
Yes, one acre.
Klonsky analyzed costs for an assumed 40-acre orchard in the northern San Joaquin Valley with 16-foot-22-foot spacings, 124 trees per acre, microsprinkler irrigation, and a 25-year orchard life.
The cultural costs totaled $1,752 or 45 percent of the total cost of production.
Cultural costs? Think pruning, weed control, pickup and ATV use, pollination, irrigation and fertilization, disease, and pests (insects and gophers).
Pollination--that would be the honey bees--accounted for $280 per acre or 16 percent of the cultural costs. (California has some 750,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two hives for pollination.)
Overall, next to cultural costs, the cost of land proved to be the second-highest expense, followed by production costs, cost of trees, and equipment.
"Applying this cost scenario to a price of $1.90 per pound, Klonsky calculated the break-even point would require a 2000 pound-per-acre yield," the board reported in its March newsletter.
And you thought growing almonds was easy?
At first I thought it was a yellow-faced bumble bee.
Sort of like applying the adage, "When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail." That's because most of the bumble bees I see are the yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii).
Our bumble bee guru, native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, quickly identified it as Bombus melanopygus, commonly known as the “Black Tail” bumble bee (melano = black; pygus = tail end of the abdomen).
Thorp says it's probably a queen that "just started her nest."
"Workers at this time of year would be quite small."
The queen was nectaring on Ceanothus in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Research Center at the University of California, Davis.
She was packin' pollen
Initially, Thorp suspected that the pollen load came from the nearby almond trees. "On closer inspection, the pollen loads look more yellow, so they may be from Ceanothus, but they seem a bit darker than what the honey bees foraging on Ceanothus are carrying," he said. "This could be to the difference in nectar added by the different bees to moisten the pollen pellets."
The queen buzzed around the Ceanothus as if she were late for an appointment.
A sip of nectar and she was gone.