"For many years, beekeepers and environmentally interested individuals have expressed the opinion that the use of neonicotinoid insecticides ("neonics") have interfered with the ability of honey bees and native bees to conduct their life activities properly," begins Extension apicuturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology in his latest edition of his newsletter, from the UC Apiaries.
"Since laboratory studies have detailed the disruptive effect on those insects, it was suggested that the same things were happening in the field. Unanticipated losses of formerly strong honey bee colonies, and easily observable decreases in bumble bee sightings, correlated well with increased use of neonics."
Mussen goes on to talk about the neonic situation in Europe and what the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has to say about the controversial issue. EFSA concluded that the neonicotinoid pesticides posed a “high acute risk” to pollinators, including honey bees, but that a definitive connection between the chemicals and loss of colonies in the field remained to be established, Mussen wrote.
Mussen, California's only Cooperative Extension apiculturist and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1976, says the situation is not that simple. Read why. His newsletter is available free on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website. Access his web page and then click on "March/April 2013."
Don't ever call the European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) a slow poke. It's not "as fast as a speeding bullet" (Superman), but close.
The males, quite territorial, chase away other pollinators, including honey bees, sweat bees and butterflies.
The European wool carder bee gets it name from the fact that females collect or "card" leaf fuzz for their nests. Today we watched the bees sip nectar from our catmint blossoms and mate.
If you've never seen them in California, that's because they haven't been here that long. Originating from Europe, these bees became established in New York in 1963, and began spreading west. Bee scientists first recorded them in California (Sunnyvale) in 2007.
Like to attract them to your yard? Plant lamb's ear (Stachys byzantia) and catmint (Nepeta).
(Editor's Note: This luncheon has been postponed until October 2013. Details forthcoming)
The buzz around the UC Davis campus is a June luncheon.
Not just any luncheon, but "A Luncheon in the Garden."
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, is gearing up for the event, to be held Saturday, June 2 from noon to 3 p.m. in the UC Davis Good Life Garden, by the Robert Mondavi Center for Institute for Wine and Food Science.
Its purpose is to introduce and support the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center to the community. As Harris describes it: "A dazzling five-course meal will be served, from appetizers to cheese and desserts. Each course features honeys from around the globe. Food and drink created by chefs, apiaries, wineries and meaderies and the farmers of California."
Sponsorship of this event supports the mission of the Honey and Pollination Center. It will:
- Promote the use of high quality honey in the California market, help ensure the sustainability of honey production in California, and showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of Californians.
- Spearhead efforts to gain support and assemble teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including:
--The beekeeping industry
--Agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination
Tickets are $125 per person. A limited number of tickets is available. "A Luncheon in the Garden" promises not only to usher in June, but provide honey and mead enthusiasts and food connoisseurs with a day to remember. The last day to register is May 24. For more information, contact events manager Tracy Diesslin at (530) 752-5233 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It was definitely a hot spot.
Honey bees foraging last week on a pomegranate tree on Hopkins Road, west of the UC Davis main campus, competed for food on hundreds of blossoms.
We counted five honey bees on one blossom alone in what amounted to a pushing/shoving match.
Most of the bees probably came from the nearby apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road.
The pomegranate is an ancient fruit and the honey bee is an ancient insect. Millions of years ago, they grew up together in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. European colonists brought the honey bee to our Eastern coast (Jamestown colony) in 1622; honey bees finally arrived in California in 1853. The pomegranate trees were introduced to California in 1769.
Saturday, May 11 is "Moth-ers Day" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis.
Moth-ers Day? Yes, moths have mothers, too!
The open house, free and open to the public, will take place at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The focus is on moths, and moths of all sizes, shapes, colors and patterns will be displayed, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Most moths are nocturnal--unlike butterflies which fly during the day.
(As an aside, moth lovers and citizen scientists will unite for National Moth Week, July 20-29. As the website says, "Moths offer endless options for study, education, photography and fun.")
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
Visitors can also discover the popular live insects in the "petting zoo": Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The gift shop (yes, credit cards are accepted) includes t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. The 35-page book, geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), Keller said. Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly and the children who helped designate it as the California state insect. Net proceeds from the book sales go directly to the education, outreach and research programs of the Bohart Museum. In addition, the book can be ordered online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com/the-story-of-the-dogface-butterfly.html.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot visit the insect museum on weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The last open house of the academic year is from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 9. The theme: "How to Find Insects."
For further information on Moth-ers Day, contact Yang at email@example.com or (530) 752-0493.