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.
Paul de Barro, a senior principal research scientist at CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences, Australia, will speak on "Unraveling the Complex: Who’s Who in the Bemisia Zoo?” at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition.
De Barro, who joined CSRO in 1994 (the acronym stands for Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and is Australia’s governmental body for scientific research) will be covering the silverleaf whitefly from biotype to species. He will be introduced by Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
De Barro, who holds a doctorate in entomology from the University of Adelaide, South Australia, is internationally known for his research on the pest.
The tiny (it's 1/16th of an inch) pest may be small but it wreaks major havoc on agricultural and ornamental crops worldwide. Its 500-plus hosts include broccoli, cabbage, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, pomegranate, poinsettia, garden roses, crepe myrtle, and lantana. It transfers such viruses as the tomato yellow leaf curl virus.
“The identity of Bemisia tabaci is a taxonomic question that goes back to 1889 and involves one of the world’s most important pests of agriculture, which despite its importance, has remained a taxonomic puzzle," he says. "Each year it destroys billions of dollars worth of crops in both developed and developing economies across Africa, Asia and the Americas. In developing economies, it reduces the ability for communities to be self-sufficient in terms of food production and reduces their capacity to generate the cash essential to alleviating poverty."
“Yet despite its global importance, its taxonomy remains confused. Is it a single species with varying populations that exhibit different biological characteristics (i.e. biotypes) or a complex of morphologically similar species with different biological characteristics?"
That's important to know, de Barro points out, because the answer "has a significant bearing on on the applicability and transferability of management practices between regions where the pest occurs, as these usually depend on insect biology, behavior, natural enemies interactions and responses to agricultural chemicals; what works for certain populations may be ineffective for other populations."
So in tomorrow's talk, he'll summarize "our understanding of the species complex and some the new learnings that are emerging as a result of the emerging new lens through which top view this pest.”
His talk will be recorded for later viewing on UCTV.
It's a sure sign of spring when the Japanese apricot tree north of Wickson Hall at the University of California, Davis, blooms.
Butterfly expert Art Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis, noticed it flowering on Jan. 21. "First fruit tree of 2013 blooming!" he said.
This tree, Prunus mume Dawn, is quite special. It was planted on March 7, 1963 to honor the work of internationally known pomologist Warren Porter Tufts (1890-1968), emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Pomology. Tufts served UC Davis pomology from 1915 to 1958. Then he came out of retirement to chair the Department of Landscape Management for two years.
He died April 18, 1968. His biographers pointed out that he "played an important role in the development of the principles of pruning and training fruit trees, which became known as the UC method."
Just one of his many contributions...
As for the Japanese apricot tree, it's one of spring's early bloomers. Its ruffled double pink blossoms are quite fragrant, a fact not missed by the honey bees.
Today the honey bees were foraging all over the blossoms. Against a stunningly blue sky, they targeted the delicate pink blossoms and pressed against the thick reddish buds that will unfold soon.
Just as the bees did every spring when Tufts worked his apricot orchard in nearby Winters...
"Stop and smell the roses."
How many times have you heard that? It's usually from someone urging us to slow down, to savor life, and to pay attention to the pleasures.
Like fragrant roses.
Honey bees seem to be particularly fond of the butterfly rose, also known as the China rose (Rosa mutabilis), a deciduous shrub that can grow up to six feet high and spread five feet across. It's a long flowering plant, especially important to bees when they emerge from their hives after a long cold winter and begin to forage for food.
The butterfly rose, so named because its blossoms resemble butterflies, is cherished for its ever-changing flowers, which turn from yellowish/orange to pinkish/red to a coppery red.
Stop and smell the roses? Yes, but also look for the beauty in the bees.
(These photos were taken at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden and demonstration garden on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. The garden, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is open to the public from dawn to dusk for free, self-guided tours. Plans call for guided tours, for a nominal charge, starting March 1. Contact Christine Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thinking about that battle in New Orleans? Getting ready to settle in for the Harbowl? Wondering who's going to win the Vince Lombardi trophy?
How about heading over to the University of California, Davis, campus for "Super Science Saturday"?
UC Davis will celebrate its second annual “Biodiversity Museum Day” from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2 when six museums or centers that engage in education and research involving insects, vertebrates, fossils, or plants will host open houses.
They are the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the Botanical Conservatory, Center for Plant Diversity, the Geology Museum, the Anthropology Museum, and the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.
The event, free and open to the public, will showcase UC Davis’ impressive research collections and museums. Free? Yes. And parking is free, too.
On Biodiversity Museum Day, visitors can go behind-the-scenes to learn how scientists conduct research. They can chat with the scientists about their projects, check out the displays, and participate in fun activities and crafts. Lots of families and people of all ages are expected to attend.
The first-ever Biodiversity Day originated last year when Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum and Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology approached Ernesto Sandoval of the Botanical Conservatory and asked about the possibility of weekend hours. He agreed. Then two other centers committed: UC Davis Botanical Conservatory and the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity.
This year we have six participating!
All six are located on the main UC Davis campus, and are close enough to be within walking distance. Maps, signs and guides will be available at each site. (Download map of six sites.)
Bohart Museum of Entomology, Room 1124 of Academic Surge, Crocker Lane (formerly California Drive)
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, 1394 Academic Surge, Crocker Lane
UC Davis Botanical Conservatory, Kleiber Hall Drive
Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive, near Briggs Hall
Anthropology Collections, Young Hall, off A Street
Geology Collections, Earth and Physical Sciences Building, across from Academic Surge Building