The event, themed "The Bounty of Pollination, More Than Just Honey," will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, UC Davis. Keynote speakers are winning cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg whose film “The Beauty of Pollination” has resulted in more than 23 million views on YouTube; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, who will discuss “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future."
Others speaking will include:
Amina Harris, executive director of the RMI Honey and Pollination Center and owner of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, who will cover “Honey Tastings Across America”
--Victoria Wojcik, associate program manager of the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, “The World of Pollinators”
--Julie Loke, teaching kitchen educator at Davis Co-Op, “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”
Another attraction is the second annual "Best Honey" competition. Beekeepers can enter the competition by bringing a jar of honey (with business card and summary of the honey) to the RMI office on Wednesday, Oct. 24. There's no charge to enter. Those attending the conference will taste and judge the honey.
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis said the newly established Honey and Pollination, was approved earlier this year by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The vision is to “make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Department of Entomology’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.”
The center’s mission is “to showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of the citizens of California. The center will spearhead and nucleate efforts to gain support and assembly teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including the beekeeping industry, agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, backyard beekeepers and the food industry."
• Expand research and education concerning nutrition, health, quality and appreciation of honey
• Develop useful information for California’s agricultural bounty that depends on insect pollination
• Help the honey industry establish labeling guidelines to guarantee pure and unadulterated varietal honey
• Coordinate a multidisciplinary team of experts in honey production, pollination and bee health
• Promote the use of locally procured honey in the home, food industry and restaurants.
It's a bug-eat-bug world out there.
Today we watched a syrphid fly, aka "hover fly" and "flower fly," circling a blanket flower (Gaillardia) and then touching down to sip a little nectar.
Syrphids are called "hover flies" for good reason. They "hover" over a blossom, helicoperlike. They're often mistaken for bees but to the trained eye, they really look nothing alike. Folks confuse them because both bees and syrphids are floral visitors and both are pollinators.
If it's a floral visitor, it must be a bee, right? Wrong.
Anyway, this syrphid touched down on the blossom to sip nectar, its wings glinting in the early morning sun. Finally, it spotted the danger, a jumping spider lurking on the other side. The crafty predator lunged. Missed!
When we returned a few minutes later, however, we saw the jumping spider beneath the petals, feasting on the syrphid.
Quickness is an attribute--whether you're a jumping spider or a syrphid.
If you want to learn more about flower flies, read entomologist Robert Bugg's "Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops" (Publication 8285, May 2008, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.)
At first they appeared on our pomegranate tree, our 85-year-old pomegranate tree.
Then they migrated over to our passion flower vine, Passiflora, where we're trying to rear Gulf Fritillary butterflies (Agraulis vanillae).
They're leaffooted bug nymphs, Leptoglossus clypealis.
They look like little cartoon characters,
They have beady eyes, narrow necks, needlelike beaks, long legs, and I swear, a perennial quizzical look.
Saturday morning cartoon characters?
One thing's for certain--a praying mantis does not like to get wet.
If it were human, it would not dip a toe in the water and yell to its friends: "C'mon in, the water's fine!"
Water is not fine--not to a praying mantis.
While watering the tomato plants recently, we discovered a praying mantis beneath the leaves. Looking quite defensive, it emerged from its hiding place, not to prey but to check out the spray.
Then it quietly slipped back beneath the leaves, its long khaki-colored body looking quite conspicuous against a solid green background.
P. Mantis took a few minutes to remove the water droplets and then clumsily flew away.
Enough of that water bath!
If you've never been to a UC Davis Arboretum plant sale, you should.
The last plant sale of the year will take place Sunday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive.
If you're looking for plants that will attract bees, or plants that will attract butterflies, or plants that will attract both, experienced gardeners there can help you. Check out their inventory.
Nearby is the Nature's Gallery Court Mural, showcasing plants found in the Storer Garden and the insects that gravitate toward them. The mural is the work of the UC Davis Art/ Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick.
If you take a stroll through the nearby Storer Garden, you'll see such plants as white flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa "Contorta"), cenizio (Leucophyllum frutescens) and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum).
The honey bees love 'em.