When the honey bee meets the flowering quince, the bee is "the belle of the ball."
The winter ball.
Suddenly the flowering quince (genus Chaenomele) transforms the bleak wintery landscape into a spring ballroom of sorts. The giddy bee is a joy to see.
Around here, the ornamental flowering quince, a member of the rose family (Rosaceae), usually blooms around late January or early February. The tightly woven pink buds unfold amid the tangled, dreary limbs that still denote winter but promise spring.
When you watch the bees, sometimes you can't tell where the pollen load ends and the anthers begin.
Extension apiculturst Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology encourages gardeners to plant flowers that will bloom in late winter or early spring. The bees, he says, are hungry.
Indeed they are.
The flowering quince is a buffet for the bees and a feast for our eyes.
A good place to learn about them is at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, Feb. 6.
James “Jim” Cane, a research entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service’s Biology and Systematics Lab, Utah State University, will speak on “The Spectrum of Managed Nesting for Pollination by Non-Social Bees” from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives, UC Davis campus.
Host is graduate student Leslie Saul-Gershanz of the Neal Williams lab.
“Most bees nest underground; the remainder largely nesting above-ground, either in beetle holes in deadwood or in pity stems,” Cane says. “The vast majority of bees are non-social, yet only a very few of these species of each nesting habitats are managed for crop pollination. They will be used to illustrate realized and sustained population growth under management, as well as the factors that allow or impede broader use of non-social bees for agriculture.”
“I will then summarize ongoing experience with methods and materials to multiply other native cavity-nesting bees, notably species of Osmia, desired to pollinate tree fruits, bramble fruits and native seed crops, highlighting the costs and challenges that emerge at larger scales of management.”
Cane has spent many of the past 25 years studying the nesting and pollination ecologies of native non-social bees of North America and elsewhere. He has worked with pollination and pollinators of alfalfa, cranberries, blueberries, squashes, almonds, raspberries and a host of native seed crops used for restoration seed. He is currently multiplying three species of Osmia bees for these applications.
For the past 13 years, Cane has worked for the USDA at the Pollinating Insect Research Unit at Utah State University in Logan, Utah. Prior to that, he was on the faculty of Auburn University in Alabama and was a post-doctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. He received his doctorate from the University of Kansas.
The seminar will be videotaped for later posting on UCTV.
Now there's an opportunity for classrooms all across the nation--and butterfly fans--to learn about it in "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.
Net proceeds from the sale of the 35-page book will benefit the education, outreach and research programs of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly, Keller said, and how schoolchildren became involved in convincing the State Legislature to select the colorful butterfly as the state insect.
Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly. Naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a Bohart volunteer, contributed photos. As part of their research, the trio visited a Placer County habitat of the butterfly last year.
As for the book, “There are also ecology, life cycle, taxonomy and conservation issues presented that are relevant to grades K-6 that can be used in classroom curriculum,” Keller said. In addition, the book includes information on the butterfly’s host plant, false indigo (Amorpha californica).
“A glossary in the back highlights key terms,” Keller said. “And there is a set of photographs of the California dogface and another yellow butterfly to help you determine if you have ever really seen the California state insect.”
Some people confuse it with it the alfalfa butterfly.
You can meet the writer and illustrator at the Bohart Museum's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. The museum is located at 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The book can also be ordered online from the Bohart website.
The museum's gift shop also has t-shirts and posters depicting the state insect.
Indeed. Those attending the Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house on Saturday, Feb. 2, will see them--and see them feeding.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology is one of six museums or educational centers on the UC Davis campus holding an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. This is the second annual campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day, aka "Super Science Saturday," as it's the day before the Super Bowl. The other five are the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology. Maps will be available at each site. The event is free and open to the public.
Now, back to the bed bugs.
Danielle Wishon, an undergraduate student majoring in entomology, will be feeding her bed bug colony at 2 p.m. at the Bohart Museum, which is located in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane. Wishon is rearing a colony, now approaching 100 bed bugs, in a research lab in Briggs Hall.
"Aside from the fact that I find them visually adorable, I am interested in the current public panic over their current increase in population around the United States," said Wishon, who took control of the colony in October 2012. "The idea that several little animals will crawl up to you while you sleep and feed on your blood really disturbs most people, despite the fact that they do not transmit any disease."
Wishon, who studies with forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and works in the Bohart Museum with director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, loves entomology. She's is a past president of the UC Davis Entomology Club and recipient of the department’s 2011 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award.
"I think the general public would be very interested to see them feeding," Wishon said. "There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet about them, so it would also be a good opportunity for Q and A."
And speaking of Q and A, be sure to access the Entomological Society of America's bed bug resource page. You'll find information on "the menace in the mattress" (Cimex lectularlu) from all over the country, including right here at UC Davis. The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program's Pest Note says:
"A single feeding may take up to 10 minutes, and feels like a pin prick, but because feeding usually occurs at night when people are asleep they are not aware they have been bitten until afterwards. However, saliva injected during the feeding can later produce large swellings on the skin that itch and may become irritated and infected when scratched. Swelling may not develop until a day or more after feeding, and some people do not show symptoms. Bed bugs currently are not considered to be disease carriers."
The yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, is back.
We spotted some overwintering queen bumble bees gathering nectar on a hebe bush last Sunday at the Berkeley marina.
Distinguished by their yellow faces, yellow head pile, black wings, and a bold yellow stripe on their lower abdomen, they bumbled around the hebe as if they were newbie pilots.
The warm weather invited them out of their underground nests. RSVP accepted. The hebe proved to be a good host, enticing them with the sweet scent of nectar. Soon the queens will be starting rearing a colony, and the worker bees will emerge.
Hebe (genus Hebe), a native of New Zealand, grow wells along the coast. Gardeners who tend the marinas around the San Francisco Bay seem to favor it.
So do the bumble bees.