Bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, received a generous gift of $30,000, thanks to Debra "Debbie" Jamison of Fresno, California state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR),
Jamison, who has always loved bees and appreciated their work, spearheaded the DAR drive. She recently presented the check to officials at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist,” Jamison told the crowd at the UC Davis ceremony. “Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”
So when Jamison, whose first name means "bee" in Hebrew, became state regent of the California State Society of DAR, she adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees.
Jamison and her state regent project chair, Karen Montgomery of Modesto, presented the $30,000 check to Edwin Lewis, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and bee scientist/assisant professor Brian Johnson at a ceremony in the department's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Lewis gratefully accepted the check on behalf of the department and noted that his mother, Betty Lewis, is an active member of the DAR Owasco Chapter in Auburn, N.Y. “My mother would definitely approve of this project,” he quipped. Lewis gifted Jamison with a mosaic ceramic figure of a bee, crafted by Davis artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
The funds will be used in the Johnson lab. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.
Jamison has visited the Laidlaw facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven several times. Last September she and Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett "talked bees" and bee health with Cooperative Extension specialist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology.
Like the DAR, the honey bee is closely linked to America. European colonists brought the honey bee to the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1622, some 153 years before the American Revolution. Native Americans called it “the white man’s fly.” Honey bees did not arrive in California until 1853, transported via the Isthmus of Panama.
The U. S. honey bee population has declined by about a third since 2006 due to the mysterious malady known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), said Mussen, attributing CCD to multiple factors including disease, pests, parasites, pesticides, malnutrition and stress.
Meanwhile, the gift from the nation’s oldest genealogical society to support one of the world’s oldest--and the most beneficial--insects, the honey bee, is a gift from the heart.
The headline drew us in: "Bees Age Faster When They Raise Offspring."
It came from ScienceNow, the online edition of Science Magazine.
How many times have you heard a parent say "See all those gray hairs? Kids! Kids will do that to you!"
So it was interesting to read Paul Gabrielsen of ScienceNow comment on research published in the Journal of Experimental Biology about bee aging.
"Researchers have found that nurturing the hive's progeny accelerates aging in the insects," he wrote. "In summer, worker honey bees usually spend several weeks feeding the queen's new larvae. Workers then change careers, living out their days as pollen-collecting foragers. They die a mere 2 weeks after making the switch, showing a steep decline in brain function. But bees born just before winter, without a brood to nourish, live nearly a year."
The article in the Journal of Experimental Biology apparently hasn't been released to the public, but the bottom line is that researchers reared two groups of winter bees in a summerlike environment: Group 1 nursed the brood, and Group 2 had no brood to nurse. The first group went from hive bees to field bees, living another two weeks. But the second group lived up to 10 weeks. Gabrielsen said the "researchers noticed high levels of lipofuscin, an 'age pigment,' in short-lived foragers and much lower levels in longer-lived bees."
The oldest-looking bee we've ever seen was a Caucasian or black bee (originating from the Caucus Mountains) that we photographed foraging in our back yard. This photo occupies a spot on a wall at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
"An old lady" is what the bee scientists call her. "Not long for this world."
Since a bee reared in the spring or summer usually lives about four to six weeks (the first half of life inside the hive and the second half, outside the hive), we wonder about this bee's life span.
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.