You never hear anyone say "He's as cute as an earwig."
Or, he's as cute as a "lygus bug."
No. It's "Cute as a June bug," which could be any number of bugs, including the fig beetle (Cotinus mutabilis).
Over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus, you'll see plenty of June bugs at a special open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 5. The theme is "June Bugs," and it follows on the heels of "Moth-er's Day," spotlighting moths. Admission is free.
The Bohart Museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, houses more than seven million insect specimens, plus a "living petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The museum also has a gift shop which includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, jewelry and insect candy and the like.
A popular item is a toddler-sized t-shirt with praying mantids all over it, says museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
That's sure to get folks interested in entomology--or at least talking about bugs!
When you encounter a "Golden Girl" in your backyard, there's one thing to do: grab the camera.
The "Golden Girl," in this case, is an Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera liguistica), the most common honey bee in the United States.
Make that the world.
"Package producers prefer Italian bees because they can start the rearing process early and raise lots of bees to sell," writes beekeeper-editor-author Kim Flottum in his book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden.
Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, goes on to say that commercial beekeepers especially like this trait when it comes to their bees pollinating early-season crops like almonds.
Then, too, Italian honey bees "produce and store lots of honey when there is ample forage and good flying weather," he writes.
There's still another good reason why beekeepers prefer the Italians: "they are not markedly protective of their hive," Flottum says. "Italians are quiet on the comb when you remove and examine frames; they do not swarm excessively, and they do not produce great amounts of propolis."
As for photographers preferring the Italians, these "Golden Girls" just stand out more so than the Carniolans and Caucasians, two other popular races.
Unlike airplane pilots, honey bees don't file a flight plan.
They know where they're going because their sisters tell them with their waggle dances.
Pollen. Nectar. Propolis. All good.
Bees seem to really like the pollen on rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora). It's red, but they can't see red; red appears to them as black.
Gardeners who grow rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) in their yards are accustomed to seeing bees gathering red pollen.
Beekeepers? When they open their hives and see all the different colors of pollen--including yellow, orange, pink, purple, white and red--do they know where the red might have come from?
Interestingly, last year a beekeeper in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., reported seeing red--red honey. Finally, she realized her bees had been sipping maraschino cherry juice from vats at a nearby maraschino cherry company and bringing red "nectar" back to the hives.
It didn't taste like honey. That's because it wasn't.
The New York Times noted: "A fellow beekeeper sent samples of the red substance that the bees were producing to an apiculturalist who works for New York State, and that expert, acting as a kind of forensic foodie, found the samples riddled with Red Dye No. 40, the same dye used in the maraschino cherry juice."
Bee can't see red but a lot of other folks did.
It was not a good day for a flower fly.
A flower fly, aka syrphid fly, dropped down in a patch of pink roses at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis today to sip nectar.
It was a pink-rose kind of day.
Not for the flower fly, though. A crab spider, lying in wait, pounced.
The battle ended quickly, but the syrphid-fly feast was not to be. Not today. The predator dropped its prey.
You can see lots of predator-prey action at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
It's open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free for all--including predators and their prey.
Understanding the honey bee’s immune system is crucial to battling the declining honey bee population, says University of California insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken.
Speaking to 100 fellow researchers at the Honey Bee Genomics and Biology Conference, held recently in the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York, Flenniken said that if a bee can develop better antiviral immune responses, it’s better able to fight its foes.
"Our work is focused on understanding the natural mechanisms of antiviral immunity in honey bees--or how a honey bees fights off viral infections,” she told the researchers. “We are examining these pathways at the molecular level using gene expression microarrays.”
Flenniken, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Davis and a virologist in the Raul Andino lab, Department of Microbiology and Immunology at UC San Francisco, studies honey bee viruses and the role of RNA interference (RNAi) in the antiviral immune responses. RNA, or ribonucleic acid, carries genetic information of viruses. RNAi is a mechanism that inhibits gene expression.
RNAi can be used as an antiviral strategy in honey bees, Flenniken believes. Her research involves limiting virus production in the bees by priming their RNAi machinery with viral specific double-stranded RNA.
For the past several years, she has been analyzing viruses present in the hives of area beekeepers.
The findings she reported at the conference are mentioned in the May 10th edition of the international journal, Nature. Flenniken “presented evidence that in honey bees (double-stranded RNA) can trigger a general immune response that might ward off a variety of threats,” wrote Nature author Gwyneth Dickey Zakaib.
We look forward to seeing more of Flenniken's work.