She didn't come home last night.
The little honey bee at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, wound up in a spider's stomach.
This morning we stopped by the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the facility, and a spider was having breakfast--one of Susan Cobey's New World Carniolans.
We spotted the same spider chowing down on a ladybug during the grand opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 11, and we remember saying "Good, it didn't get a bee."
This time it did.
I jokingly asked beekeeper Elizabeth Frost, staff resource associate who works with Cobey at the Laidlaw facility, if she were missing any bees. (After all there are "only" about six million of them in the apiary.)
It would have been hilarious if she had said "Did a bed check. One unaccounted for."
Gary, who received his doctorate in entomology (apiculture) from Cornell University, served as a professor at the University of California, Davis for 32 years, retiring in 1994.
Now 76, he's been a beekeeper for 62 years and a researcher for more than three decades. He’s published more 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and four book chapters.
His research on honey bees is well known. Among his accomplishments: he invented a magnetic retrieval capture/recapture system for studying the foraging activities of bees, documenting the distribution and flight range in the field.
He's also well known as a "bee wrangler"--he trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
Gary will appear Thursday, Sept. 16 on a History Channel show wearing 75,000 bees. The show, part of Stan Lee’s “Super Humans,” is scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m., Pacific Time (Channel 64 for local Comcast viewers in the Davis area).
Host-presenter Daniel Browning Smith has billed him as “the human bee hive” and will explore bee behavior and the science behind the bees.
A crew from England filmed Gary in mid-May at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis; at Rick Schubert’s Bee Happy Apiaries in Vacaville-Winters; and then in a UC Davis open field where the 75,000 bees clustered his entire body.
“That’s about 20 pounds, depending upon how much honey or sugar syrup they have consumed,” Gary said. “A hungry bee weighs approximately 90 mg and within a minute of active ingestion she can increase her weight to 150 mgs!”
We watched the entire process. Amazing. Simply amazing.
“Bees are not inclined to sting if they are well fed—happy and content—and are ‘under the influence’ of powerful synthetic queen bee odors—pheromones—which tend to pacify them,” Gary said.
Bees are attracted to pheromones and they cluster on drops of pheromones he places on himself. While at UC Davis, he formulated a pheromone solution that is very effective in controlling bee behavior.
Gary (check out his website) once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.
During his career, Norman Gary has worn many hats, including hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist and entomology professor, adult beekeeping education teacher, and author.
His book for beginning beekeepers, “The Honey Bee Hobbyist,” is to be published in early December by Bow Tie Press.
Don't be too surprised if he also writes one on bee wrangling.
The next generation can learn a lot from him.
Some 1300 people, including beekeepers, entomologists, gardeners, nature lovers, and children--plus millions of bees in the vicinity--helped celebrate the grand opening of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven last Saturday, Sept. 11.
The haven, a bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, looks glorious in its fall colors, including oregano, purple coneflowers, Mexican hat flowers and sedum.
A highlight of the grand opening: the speech delivered by Dori Sera Bailey, director of consumer communications, Häagen-Dazs and Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream. The company provided free ice cream to the crowd.
"It's so nice to see so many families here today," she began, then asked "Who can tell me why protecting honey bees would be important to Häagen-Dazs ice cream?"
"In fact," said Bailey, praising him for his answer, "more than than half of our 60 flavors of ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and ice cream bars are what we call 'Bee Built.' That means they’re made with fruits, berries and nuts, pollinated by honey bees."
She went on to add that "while we’re all about ice cream, we also recognize that without honey bees we would lose one-third of all the natural foods we eat. Think about that when you’re eating dinner. One out of every three bites you take came from the efforts of honey bees and other pollinators."
"That’s why my friends and I at Häagen-Dazs," Bailey said, "are so pleased to sponsor the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It’s only appropriate that we created a beautiful source of food for the bees who bring us peaches, tomatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, onions and cherries. I understand more than 6 million bees are dining in this Haven."
"By helping honey bees we can help ensure a safe and bountiful food supply for all. And that’s a contribution we can make that benefits all Americans. In that spirit, we are very pleased to announce that Häagen-Dazs will be donating another $50,000 to UC Davis in 2011 for continued honey bee research and support."
Bailey ended her presentation on another sweet note: "Thank you for coming today. Thank you to our partners at UC Davis and the many others who have toiled over the last two years to design, plant, nurture and give life to this garden. We thank you all, on behalf of Raspberry Sorbet, Rocky Road and Cherry Vanilla. Enjoy the garden . . . and the Häagen-Dazs."
The crowd did. It was a honey of a garden celebration.
Pest management. Pain management.
Early in his career, entomologist Bruce Hammock, now a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis and a newly selected fellow of the Entomological Society of America, probed regulating the development of insect larvae.
Now his interests swing toward pain management, including inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
His is truly a case of "from the bench to the bedside."
Today two UC Davis labs--including Hammock's--and a lab from Peking University, China published an article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that is sure to offer hope down the road for those suffering from arthritis pain.
The scientists found a novel mechanism as to why the long-term, high-dosage use of the well-known arthritis pain medication, Vioxx, led to heart attacks and strokes. Their groundbreaking research, done with rodents, may pave the way for a safer drug for millions of arthritis patients who suffer acute and chronic pain.
“This is a major breakthrough that can lead to a better medication for people suffering from acute pain,” said Hammock, who has a joint appointment at the UC Davis Cancer Center.
The Hammock lab and two others labs--the lab of cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, UC Davis Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, and physiologist Yi Zhu, Peking University--used metabolomic profiling to analyze murine (rodent) plasma. They discovered that Vioxx causes a dramatic increase in a regulatory lipid that could be a major contributor to the heart attacks and strokes associated with high levels of the drug and other selective COX-2 inhibitors, known as “coxibs.”
“Our metabolomics study discovered that 20-hydroxyeicosatetrasanoic acid, also known as 20-HETE, contributes to the Vioxx-mediated cardiovascular events,” said UC Davis bioanalytical chemist Jun-Yan Liu, the senior author of the paper and a five-year member of the Bruce Hammock laboratory.
Millions of arthritis patients took Vioxx before its withdrawal from the global market in 2004. Vioxx, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) and coxib for acute and chronic pain, particularly for arthritis and osteoarthritis, was on the market for five years. Merck & Co. voluntarily withdrew it in September 2004 due to concerns about the increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.
The chronic administration of high levels of selective COX-2 inhibitors, particularly rofecoxib, and valdecoxib, increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, Liu said.
Urologist Ralph devere White, professor of urology at the UC Davis School of Medicine and director of the UC Davis Cancer Center, described the research as “extremely exciting.”
“Vioxx and other drugs in this class were looked on as extremely promising in moderation,” devere White said. “The fact that the Hammock lab discovered why the drug could lead to heart attacks and strokes and is able to quantify the deleterious facts is extremely exciting. I hope that patients can safely use this drug in the future or block the deleterious effects so it will have all of the benefits and none of the adverse side effects.”
Nationally, some 46 million individuals suffer from arthritis. “And almost one million patients are admitted to hospitals every year because of their arthritis,” Hammock said. “They do need effective and safer drugs to relieve their pain.”
This research (see the UC Davis Department of Entomology website) will undoubtedly open up new strategies to develop safer coxibs.
There are more than just honey bees in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.
Think butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, metallic sweat bees, carpenter bees, hover flies, tachinid flies, wasps, praying mantids and what not. Such diversity in insects and plants! And to think that two years ago, this was an open field covered with bindweed.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the grand opening of the honey bee haven, which is a half-acre bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The celebration, set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will include speakers, garden tours, children's arts and crafts, and scores of other activities.
The question we're asked the most is: How do we get there?
From the Sacramento Area: Take Interstate 80 westbound to Highway 113 north. At the eastern edge of Davis, take Highway 113 northbound (toward Woodland); exit at Hutchison Drive. Turn left to go west (away from the central UC Davis campus), toward the campus airport; turn left onto Hopkins Road and then left on Bee Biology Road.
From the San Francisco Bay Area: Take Interstate 80 eastbound to Highway 113 north. At the eastern edge of Davis, take Highway 113 northbound (toward Woodland); exit at Hutchison Drive. Turn left to go west (away from the central UC Davis campus), toward the campus airport; turn left onto Hopkins Road and then left on Bee Biology Road.
You can also access the campus map; select "Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility" from the pulldown menu. The site is about a mile from the Hutchinson exit.
The second most commonly asked question: Is the garden open year-around? Yes, it is. Come visit. Bring your camera, a pen and a notepad. You'll want to take photos of the beautiful art work (gigantic bee sculpture and beehive columns) permanently displayed in the haven. The plants are labeled so you can decide what you want to plant in your own yard to attract pollinators.
Oh, and there's no charge.
No charge for the bees, butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, metallic sweat bees, carpenter bees, hover flies, tachinid flies, wasps and praying mantids, either!
Well, maybe we ought to charge the praying mantids!