"Chantilly lace, have a pretty face..."
When Jerry Lee Lewis belted out those lyrics in his No. 1 hit, "Chantilly Lace," back in 1972, he wasn't thinking of a green lacewing.
Perhaps he should have been.
The green lacewing is a delicate insect with transparent wings, an elongated green body, and gold or copper-colored eyes. When the late afternoon sun sets it aglow, you can't find a more beautiful insect.
It's not only pretty--it's beneficial. Its larvae, sometimes called "aphid lions," prey upon aphids, mites, mealybugs, whiteflies, leafhoppers, psyllids, tiny caterpillars and insect eggs. And sometimes they devour each other.
As adults, lacewings feed on pollen, nectar and honeydew.
Entomologists place the insect in the family Chrysopidae, suborder Planipennia, order Neuroptera and class Insecta.
Gardeners? If they had their way, they'd place the green lacewing on a pedestal.
Scientists based at the University of California, San Francisco, have discovered four new honey bee viruses.
Their research, published today in the international Public Library of Science (PLoS) journal, documents what they found in a 10-month study of healthy, commerically managed honey bee colonies.
One virus, the newly named Lake Sinai virus strain 2 (LSV2), predominated. “In fact, we found more than 1 billion LSV2 viral genomes (an approximation of actual viruses) per honey bee in some of the colonies,” said insect virus researcher Michelle Flenniken, a postdoctoral fellow in the Raul Andino lab at UC San Francisco and the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellow in Honey Bee Biology at UC Davis.
The virus strain is one of two Lake Sinai strains found among the 431 samples the scientists collected. Both replicate in honey bees, Flenniken said.
Flenniken is part of a seven-member team from the Raul Andino and Joseph DeRisi labs at UC San Francisco that today published “Temporal Analysis of the Honey Bee Microbiome Reveals Four Novel Viruses and Seasonal Prevalence of Known Viruses, Nosema, and Crithidia" in PLOS.
The research, Flenniken said, provides “a baseline for future epidemiological studies aimed at understanding current and emerging threats to honey bees and determining the causes of the declining bee population."
That it does.
"Michelle Flenniken is particularly adroit at explaining these findings and techniques to academic audiences and the general public," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. Mussen was not involved with the research.
Knowing that numerous viruses, microbes and mites threaten honey bee colony health, the researchers set out to answer the question: “What is normal microbial flora (virus, bacteria, fungi) associated with honey bee colonies over the course of a year?”
They used cutting-edge technology to document the seasonal incidence and abundance of previously characterized viruses. Their broad-scale analysis incorporated a suite of molecular tools: custom microarray, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), quantitative PCR (qPCR) and deep sequencing. Their work enabled rapid detection of the presence—or absence—of all previously identified honey bee pathogens and facilitated the detection of the four novel pathogens.
The research was primarily funded by Project Apis m., (PAm), a Chico-based non-profit organization established in 2006 by beekeepers and orchardists to fund honey bee research on managed colonies. PAm, headed by executive director Christi Heintz, brings together representatives of the American Honey Producers Association, the American Beekeeping Federation, the National Honey Board, California State Beekeepers Association, and California almond farmers.
Don't forget your sunglasses if you're heading over to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee-friendly demonstration garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
That's because the Gaillardia is stunningly bright and beautiful.
And honey bees are all over it.
The Gaillardia, also called blanketflower--reportedly because it typifies the wondrous patterns of Native American Indian blankets--is a native perennial from the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
With all the rain we've been having lately, it's good to know that it's drought-tolerant.
The Gaillardia draws its name from M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who delved in botany.
Ready to see the haven? It's open from dawn to dusk every day. There's no admission fee.
Talk about a bee celebration!
Folks with a passion for honey bees and native bees can head over to Mill Valley on Saturday, June 18 for "The Celebration of the Bees."
To be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at 221 Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, it's a community gathering to benefit the beekeeping projects of SuperOrganism, the Marin Pollen Project, and the Marin Survivor Stock Queen Bee Project.
The "bee-in" will include a presentation on native bees by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; a talk on honey bees by master beekeeper and writer Mea McNeil of San Anselmo; demonstration and learning stations presented by the Marin Beekeepers’ Association; honey tasting featuring local varieties of honey; mead (honey wine) tasting; and live Celtic music. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Thorp will discuss the diversity of native bees, such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and leafcutting bees, and how residents can provide habitat for them. He does research on the role of native bees in crop pollination, the role of urban gardens as bee habitat, and declines in native bumble bee populations.
Since 2002, Thorp has served as an instructor in The Bee Course, offered annually through the American Museum of Natural History, New York at its Southwest Research Station, Portal, Ariz.
It's good to see a bee celebration that includes both honey bees and native bees.
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased from the Savory Thymes website. Jerry Draper is taking reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although children will be admitted free, reservations are required, he said.
Mid-June should be a great time to celebrate the bees--if the weather agrees to "bee" nice.
The crane fly is as long-legged and slender as a runway model, but as gangly as a teenager.
The insect, from the family Tipulidae, is sometimes called daddy long-legs (not!) or a skeeter eater (not!).
They don't eat mosquitoes and they don't bite. The adults sip nectar. Sometimes when you head out to the garden in the early morning, you'll find them resting on a plant--probably been there all night.
This one (below) was clutching salvia and waiting for a little warmth from the morning sun.