Bank robbers rob banks because that's where the money is.
Spiders lurk in flowers because that's where the insects are. Whether they spin a sticky web, ambush their prey or just outrun or outmaneuver insects, spiders are there.
This morning a spider successfully trapped a honey bee in what amounted to an intricate "world wide web" connecting a tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) to catmint (Nepeta).
But just as the hungry predator began racing toward its struggling prey, something unexpected happened.
Freedom. The photographer flicked the web and released the bee.
Just in time for National Pollinator Week.
You'll be hearing more about the CP2C.
The first-ever Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus.
In keeping with 4th Annual National Pollinator Week, June 21-27, the Pollinator Partnership announced today that both parties of the U.S. House of Representatives have agreed to form the first Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C). Co-chairs are Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Rep. Tim Johnson (R-IL).
Hastings and Johnson said they will be sending a “Dear Colleague” letter to fellow members of Congress to encourage their participation in the caucus.
As Hastings so accurately stated: “With one out of every third bite of food we humans consume dependent on bees and other animals for their pollination services, legislators need accurate information to help inform their positions."
“The caucus," Johnson added, "will seek out the best of pollinator science, economics and best practices."
Said Laurie Davies Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership (P2): "This bi-partisan effort aims to support legislators’ understanding of the needs of their constituents with respect to pollinators, and we salute their cooperative drive to ensure that this issue gets the attention it deserves."
Kudos to Hastings, Johnson and the Pollinator Partnership.
Meanwhile, in conjunction with the CP2C launch, the Pollinator Partnership will host a briefing for members of Congress, staff, and the public on Thursday, June 24 at 3:30 p.m, at Longworth House Office Building, Room 1302.
Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Burt’s Bees will provide ice cream and lip balm for attendees. Häagen-Dazs, a strong supporter of UC Davis honey bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is committed to strengthening the health of the honey bees. (On Sept. 11, the public will celebrate the grand opening of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Laidlaw facility.)
Burt's Bees is also a strong pollinator-supportive business.
Through research, public awareness, and concerted actions, we can all help preserve and protect our pollinators, especially honey bees.
The Western Apicultural Society's annual conference.
Two bee specialists at the University of California, Davis, will be among the speakers when the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) meets Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in Salem, Ore.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and WAS co-founder and past president, will speak, as will bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
The conference takes place in Salem's Red Lion Hotel, 3301 Market Street. On Tuesday, Aug. 31. Cobey will discuss her research on building a better bee. On Wednesday, Sept. 1, Mussen will offer hints for backyard beekeepers.
The lineup of speakers includes beekeepers, a conservation specialist, a college dean, a seed grower, almond growers, an integrated pest management specialist and the editor of the Bee Culture magazine (Kim Flottum), among others.
Colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious malady in which adult bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen, brood and food stores, will be one of the timely topics. Tim Lawrence, formerly of UC Davis and now of Washington State University (and husband of Susan Cobey), will speak on "Human Dimensions of CCD and Its Impact on the Honey Bee" on Thursday, Sept. 2.
WAS and UC Davis are closely intertwined. Mussen and fellow apiculturist Norman Gary (now an emeritus UC Davis professor) co-founded WAS in 1978 as a non-profit, educational organization designed specifically to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming; the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon; and the states of northern Mexico.
Mussen and Gary are among five UC Davis bee specialists who have received the WAS outstanding service award. Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (now deceased) received the award in 1980; Robert Page in 1989; Norman Gary in 1990; Eric Mussen in 1991; Christine Peng in 2002; and Susan Cobey in 2009. Page (now with Arizona State University), Gary and Peng are all emeriti professors.
Meanwhile, registration is under way for the 2010 WAS conference. This is definitely the place to "bee."
Ever heard of a polyester bee?
We encountered a plasterer or "polyester" bee on a recent trip to Bodega Bay.
A female Colletes fulgidus longiplumosus, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, was foraging on a seaside daisy (Erigeron) along a sandy cliff off Bodega Head, Sonoma County.
She was covered in pollen.
The common name, polyester bee (family Colletidae), refers to the cellophane-like polyester material females secrete to line their burrows, Thorp said. These bees, he noted, nest in the same cliff faces with Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana (a faux bumble bee), but do not have turrets. A polyester membrane “doggy door" guards the nest entrances.
Worldwide, there are more than 20,000 identified species of bees.
The polyester bee is one of them.
Three little words can help us determine what to plant in a bee friendly garden: "attractive to bees."Escallonia, a fast-growing evergreen shrub often planted as a hedge or screen, is indeed attractive to bees. Bees work the blossoms like there's no tomorrow--and no colony collapse disorder.
Escallonia's delicate pink blossoms remind me of apple blossoms, and indeed, there's a cultivar named just that: Escallonia Apple Blossom (E. xlangleyensis).
A native of South America (probably Chile), the plant is drought-resistant, hardy, fragrant and basically pest-free.
Butterflies and hummingbirds join bees in finding it attractive.
So, perhaps Escallonia should be referred to as "attractive to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and people-looking-for-what-to-plant-in-bee-friendly-gardens."