Bees are known to prefer yellow and blue flowers, but pink suits them just fine, too.
- Two honey bees nearly collide over a pink zinnia.
- Another honey bee burrows into a pink oxalis.
- A young honey bee takes a liking to a pink begonia. Begonias aren't considered bee friendly flowers, but this bee buzzes to its own tune.
Meanwhile, the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), under the presidency of Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and Nematology, is gearing up for its 40th annual meeting, returning to its roots at UC Davis, and the major concern is bee health.
The conference takes place Sept. 5-8 and you're invited. Registration is now open.
Mussen, who retired as Extension apiculturist in 2014 after a 38-year career, is serving his sixth term as WAS president since 1984.
WAS, which serves the educational needs of beekeepers from 13 states, plus parts of Canada, was founded in 1977-78 for “the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America,” said Mussen, who retired as Extension apiculturist in 2014 after a 38-year career. As emeritus, he continues to maintain an office on the third floor of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The organization was the brainchild of apiculture professor Norm Gary (UC Davis faculty, 1962 to 1994), who patterned it after the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS). Gary participated in the EAS meetings as a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he received his doctorate in apiculture in 1959.
Now why do we want our bees to "be in the pink?"
"In the pink!" means being in good health.
Two communicators based at the University of California, Davis, and affiliated with the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, won a total of five awards for their writing and photography in a competition sponsored by the international Association for Communication Excellence in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences (ACE). The awards were presented at the ACE meeting, held June 13-16 in New Orleans.
Steve Elliott, communication coordinator for the Western Integrated Pest Management Center, received a gold award (first place) promotional writing for his story, "Safflower Makes an Areawide IPM Program Work. published in the newsletter, Western Front. Judges scored his work 100 out of a possible 100. They wrote: "You had me at Rodney Dangerfield. Very creative, the lead drew me right in wanting to read more. Excellent flow, packed with information in a narrative style. Congratulations on the terrific analytics for the newsletter."
He also received a bronze (third place) for his photo essay, "Loving the Land of Enchantment." Judges wrote: " Good variety of shot sizes which keeps it interesting. Diversity of stories along with photo content is engaging, and sticking to the IPM theme helps. There is so too much text info that it was difficult wade through. The words compliment the photos instead of the usual where the story supersedes the photos."
- A silver award (second place) for a photo series entitled the "Predator and the Pest: What's for Dinner?" on her Bug Squad post on the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website on Oct. 3, 2016. Her series showed a praying mantis eating a cabbage white butterfly. Judges commented" "Definitely tell a story, interesting angles and good macro technique. Caught in the moment, but has a still life feel to it, like it's a diorama in a museum and we get to look at the scene from all sides. A unique look and good capture. "
- A bronze award (third place) for her feature photo, "Save the Monarchs," posted Aug. 8, 2016 on her Bug Squad blog. It showed a monarch clinging to a finger. Judges commented "The detail in this photo is incredible. The lighting on the hand against the black background is definitely striking. And it makes the white spots on the monarch pop! Beautiful!"
- ·A bronze award (third place) for blog writing on her Bug Squad blog posted Sept. 6 and entitled "A WSU-Tagged Monarch: What a Traveler!" Judges wrote: "Short and sweet and to the point. Perfect for web reading. The photo is so helpful to the reader. The call to action at the end is a plus and not something I've seen on other entries. Fabulous use of social media to extend the reach of the article, too. "
The Western Integrated Pest Management Center is funded by the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to promote the development, adoption and evaluation of integrated pest management, a safer way to manage pests. The Western IPM Center works to create a healthier West with fewer pests. It is located in the UC ANR Building in Davis.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, headquartered in Briggs Hall, is affiliated with the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR). The department is globally ranked No. 7 in the world.
That's the consensus of the declining honey bee population in the United States.
A newly released poll showed that our nation's beekeepers lost an average of 21 percent of their colonies last winter, as compared to 27 percent the winter before, according to the 11th annual survey conducted by the Bee Informed Partnership. They polled nearly 5000 beekeepers.
"We would, of course, all love it if the trend continues, but there are so many factors playing a role in colony health," bee expert Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, told the Associated Press in a recent news story headlined “Survey Finds U.S. Honeybee Losses Improve from Horrible to Bad.”
Nino, who was not part of the survey, added “I am glad to see this, but wouldn't celebrate too much yet."
Survey director Dennis vanEngelsdorp. a University of Maryland apiculturist, told the Associated Press: "It's good news in that the numbers are down, but it's certainly not a good picture. It's gone from horrible to bad."
Indeed, the 10-year average for winter losses is 28.4 percent, and bee scientists want it down to at least 15 percent.
Pests, pesticides, diseases, stress and malnutrition all play a role in our nation's honey bee population decline.
Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, who retired in 2014 after a 38-year career, has long pointed out the malnutrition issue is a major factor in the declining bee population.
"You, no doubt, have lost track of how many times I have stated that malnutrition is a leading factor in our unacceptable annual bee colony loss numbers," Mussen wrote in a 2013 bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, located on the Department of Entomology and Nematology website. "I have also stated innummerable times that our synthesized bee diets just cannot match the value of nutrients obtained by bees from a mixture of quality pollens. My concern has been that although we have a very good idea of the protein requirements for honey bees, the rations of essential amino acids honey bees require, and their required vitamins and minerals, etc., we still cannot feed bees on our best diets and keep them alive more than two months in confinement."
Malnutrition is linked to a number of factors, including loss of habitat, but also climate change.
Scientists believe that our rising carbon dioxide levels may contribute to die-off of bees. A May 2016 Yale publication warned that "Rising C02 Levels May Contribute to Die-off of Bees."
"As they investigate the factors behind the decline of bee populations, scientists are now eyeing a new culprit--soaring levels of carbon dioxide, which alter plant physiology and significantly reduce protein in important sources of pollen," wrote Lisa Palmer.
This is the gist of it: scientists headed over to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History to examine the pollen content of goldenrod specimens, dating back to 1842. Why goldenrod? It's a key food source for bees in the summer to late-fall bloomer when not much else is blooming.
They compared samples from 1842 to 2014, when atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide rose from about 280 parts per million to 398 pmm, and found the results quite troubling--a lot less protein in the pollen of newer specimens. In fact, the most recent pollen samples contained 30 percent less protein. "The greatest drop in protein occurred from 1960 to 2014, when the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose dramatically," Palmer wrote.
Scientists speculate the rising carbon dioxide concentrations--think climate change--may be playing a role in the global die-off of bee populations "by undermining bee nutrition and reproductive success," Palmer wrote.
Noted entomologist May Berenbaum, professor of entomology and head of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (she's now a past president of the Entomological Society of America) was quoted in the article: "A declining quality of protein across the board almost assuredly is affecting bees. Like humans, good nutrition is essential for bee health by allowing them to fend off all kinds of health threats. Anything that indicates that the quality of their food is declining is worrisome."
So honey bees--which pollinate about one-third of the food we eat--are still in trouble.
And so, it appears, are we.
Yes, they do, says a Texas A&M researcher.
Christine Merlin, an assistant professor in Texas A&M's Department of Biology, will discuss her research on "The Monarch Butterfly Circadian Clock: from Clockwork Mechanisms to Control of Seasonal Migration" when she presents a seminar on Wednesday afternoon, May 31 at the University of California, Davis.
The seminar is set from 4:10 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Room 122 of Briggs Hall.
"The eastern North American monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) has emerged as a powerful model system to study animal circadian clocks and their role in an unconventional output, the photoperiod-induced long-distance migration," Merlin writes in her abstract. "Circadian clocks are endogenous 24-hour timekeepers that coordinate nearly all of the animal physiology and behavior to its environment to tune specific activities at the most advantageous time of the day. Monarchs use a circadian clock to navigate to their overwintering sites during their seasonal long-distance migration."
"The clock time-compensates for the movement of the sun across the sky over the course of the day and regulates the sun compass output in the brain. Circadian clocks could also be used to time the monarch seasonal departure from their breeding grounds, and consequently regulate the genetic/epigenetic program controlling migratory physiology and behavior. I will discuss progress that our lab has made in developing reverse-genetics in the monarch butterfly to unlock its potential as a genetic model system to study animal clockwork mechanisms and the involvement of the circadian clock in insect photoperiodic responses."
Merlin will be hosted by molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, associate professor and vice chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who is also involved in circadian-clock research. The weekly seminars, chaired by assistant professor Christian Nansen, are open to all interested persons. Plans call for recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV.
A native of France, Merlin received her bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees majoring in animal biology, invertebrate physiology and insect physiology, respectively, at the University Paris 6 Pierre and Marie Curie in France. She accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Massachusetts in 2007.
From her post at Texas A&M University, located at College Station, 90 miles northwest of Houston, Merlin enjoys a front-row seat for the monarch butterfly migration.
She sees them heading to Mexico to overwinter, and she sees them returning.
But it's the science that drives her.
In a Texas A&M news story, Vimal Patel described her as trying to unravel "the mysteries of the migration and the role of internal clocks in the process."
"It's incredible how such a fragile insect can complete a long-range migration so demanding," Merlin told Patel. "Every piece of it fascinates me, from how it occurs to why they go precisely where they go."
An excerpt from Patel's piece:
"While she was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the laboratory of Prof. Steven Reppert, Merlin and colleagues showed that the clocks necessary for flight orientation lie in the creatures' antennae --a departure from the previous conventional wisdom that the brain controlled the mechanism, given that it controls behavioral rhythmicity in virtually every other animal, including humans.
"The conclusion stemmed from Merlin's and her co-workers' collective curiosity concerning a decades-old anecdote. Around 50 years ago, entomologist Fred Urquhart found that Monarchs became disoriented after he clipped off their antennae. Since then, it had remained just a suspicion until the Massachusetts team confirmed it with more rigorous research."
"The team's experiment exploited technology in a way Urquhart, who merely observed the Monarchs in flight, could not at the time. They used a plastic barrel-like device called a Mouritsen-Frost flight simulator in which a butterfly is connected by tungsten wire to an output system that indicates which direction it is flying. The results were clear: The antennae-less Monarchs flew in every which direction, while those with intact antennae flew southwesterly, the migratory direction."
Merlin points out that "Migration begins every year in the fall, when the day lengths change. The shortened day lengths might be a cue for the monarchs to start their migration. And if we can show this is the case and that the circadian clock is involved, we can now start to understand the genetic program that is allowing the migratory behavior."
Hundreds of UC Davis employees and their offspring--ages 6 and over--visited sites all across campus on Thursday, April 27.
One of the most colorful sites: the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator, research and demonstration garden located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Visitors viewed the some 200 plant species in the haven, and participated in "catch-and-release" bee observation with devices provided by the haven. They also checked out the six-foot worker bee that anchors the garden. Titled "Miss Bee Haven," it is the work of Donna Billick, a self-described "rock artist" based in Davis. The art in the garden represents both student and community work directed by entomology professor Diane Ullman and Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
"Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day" (TODS) is billed as “an annual national celebration of employers hosting children at their workplace.” It's a popular event at UC Davis. TODS not only exposes youths to what their parents and their peers do at work, but it can serve as a springboard to attend college and envision their future.
- Chloe Jerng, 8, entered the haven with her dad, Mark Jerng, a UC Davis English professor.
- Samantha Morrill, 8, and her sister, Hannah, 11, joined their mother, Nicole, an employee at UC Davis Athletics
- Isla Robertson, 7, and her brother, Cameron, 4, participated with their mother, Sarah Robertson, an employee at IET Enterprise Applications and Infrastructure Services
History? The garden was installed in the fall of 2009 under the direction of Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and then interim director of the UC Davis Department of Entomology (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology).
A Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki--won the design competition. as judged by Professor Kimsey; founding garden manager Missy Borel (now Missy Borel Gable), now statewide director of the UC Master Gardeners' Program; David Fujino, executive director, California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis; Aaron Majors, construction department manager, Cagwin & Dorward Landscape Contractors, based in Novato; Diane McIntyre, senior public relations manager, Häagen-Dazs ice cream; Heath Schenker, professor of environmental design, UC Davis; Jacob Voit, sustainability manager and construction project manager, Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The garden is now managed by program representative/entomologist Christine Casey, and faculty director Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, the haven is open to the public from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. Admission is free. For information on guided tours (a fee applies), plants, bee gardening classes, docents and donations, access the website, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.