The event, free and open to the public, takes place from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the half-acre bee garden, located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus.
Among the native ants at the haven are
- Dorymyrmex insanus (workers small, ~3 mm long, black; conspicuous crater-shaped nests in bare soil)
- Dorymyrmex bicolor (workers small, ~3 mm long, bicolored, dull orange and black; conspicuous crater-shaped nests in bare soil)
- Prenolepis imparis (also known as the “winter ant” or “winter honey ant”; workers small (3-4 mm long), brown, with shiny gaster; inconspicuous nests in soil)
- Formica moki (sometimes called “field ants”; workers medium-sized (6 mm long), with a dark head, orange-brown mesosoma (thorax) and silvery-gray gaster; nest in soil)
Images of these species can be found on the AntWeb (www.antweb.org).
The haven is home to many insects other than bees, noted Christine Casey, director of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which is owned and operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. It was planted in the fall of 2009.
Approximately six other species of native ants reside in the vicinity of the garden, including Formica aerata, Pogonomyrmex subdentatus, and Solenopsis xyloni. The introduced Argentine ant (Linepithema humile) occurs around the Bee Biology building, but it appears not to have colonized the bee garden.
Attendees will learn how to observe and identify California native ants, and learn about the differences between bees and ants.
DAVIS--When it comes to protecting our pollinators, we can all pitch in to help, says native bee ecologist Margaret “Rei” Scampavia of the University of California, Davis.
Scampavia, who is studying how farming practices affect bee nesting for her doctorate in entomology, recently won the top graduate student poster award at the first-ever UC Davis Bee Symposium, and provided the popular “Pollinator Pavilion” at the UC Davis Picnic Day.
Scampavia, who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and anticipates receiving her Ph.D. in 2016, lists three ways to “save the pollinators."
1. Provide food: Plant a variety of trees, shrubs and annual flower with blooms that differ in size, shape, color and flowering time. Planting native milkweeds also can help support monarch butterfly populations. Hummingbird and butterfly feeders can also provide additional food sources, but make sure to clean and disinfect your feeders regularly, as they can accumulate toxic fungi.
2. Provide homes: Bees can be limited by food or nesting opportunities. Native bees are usually not aggressive and unlikely to sting. A patch of bare soil can provide valuable nest sites for soil-nesting bees, particularly if the soil is loose and slightly damp. A dead stump or log, or shrubs with hollow stems, such as raspberry or elderberry, can also provide nests for cavity-nesting bees. “You can also make or order a ‘bee condo,' or a block of wood with holes of varying diameter,” she says. “Line these holes with paper tubes to make them easy to clean between years. Some bee species line their nests with rose, wisteria or fuzzy plants such as lamb's ear leaves, so growing these plants can help these bees, too.”
3. Provide pesticide shelters. As much as possible, try to reduce pesticide use in your garden, or use less toxic pesticides, such as soap sand oils. If you spray, do so when pollinators are not active--after dusk to before dawn. Try to avoid spraying flowers directly. Create a pesticide-free source of water and mud for bees and butterflies, such as a dripping faucet or a bird bath.
“There are about 300 species of bumble bees worldwide and all are in the Bombus genus,” Scampavia points out. “Many of these species are in decline. Threats to bumble bees in the United States include disease introduced by commercial colonies, habitat loss and pesticide use.”
Bumble bee colonies live for one year, she said. A queen often starts her nest in an abandoned rodent burrow.
“Some species have been domesticated for greenhouse pollination as bumble bees are good pollinators of tomatoes and peppers,” she says. They vibrate their flight muscles to share loose the pollen.
There's also a major focus on monarch butterflies during National Pollinator Week. Scampavia describes monarchs as “truly amazing.”
Monarchs, Danaus plexippus, are the only butterflies that have a two-way multi-generation migration each year, she points out.
“Using the earth's magnetism, the sun, and air currents, they travel up to 100 miles a day. Some fly 3000 miles to overwinter. The western monarchs generally overwinter on the California Coast, while the eastern monarchs travel to the Sierra Madre Mountains in Mexico.”
The decline of the monarch population is alarming, she notes. “In the past 20 years, monarch populations have declined by 90 percent. They are threatened by the loss of their overwintering grounds, overuse of herbicides that kill milkweed, and climate change.”
Scampavia launched the first-ever Pollinator Pavilion at the UC Davis Picnic Day. It proved to be one of the most popular attractions not only in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology display at Briggs Hall but at the entire UC Davis Picnic Day celebration. She displayed live monarchs donated by Utterback Farms in Woodland; butterfly feeders and bee condos donated by ARBICO Organics, based in Arizona; a live bumble bee colony from UC Davis research; and specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
Her display showcased numerous live pollinators, including bees, butterflies and flies. She also drew in the crowds with informational posters on pollinators. The posters detailed how individuals can help support healthy pollinator populations.
Fellow entomology graduate student Danny Klittich set up the pavilion, which included an enclosure for the live pollinators. Visitors could walk inside the zipped enclosure and be one-on-one with the pollinators. Many took photos of the monarchs on their hands or arms. Younger visitors were encouraged to practice observing pollinators by filling out a data sheet counting the number of each type of pollinator they saw.
Scampavia recently won the top prize at the Bee Symposium with her poster, “Farming Practices Affect Nest Site Selection of Native Ground Nesting Bees.”
"Rei is multi-talented: she is able to both conduct high quality research and communicate information about pollinators in engaging and effective ways," said Katharina Ullmann who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis (Neal Williams lab) and is now a crop pollination specialist for the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. "Anyone who saw her award-winning poster at the Bee Symposium or who experience the pollinator pavilion at Picnic day knows that pollinators are lucky to have Rei working for them!"
Scampavia received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2008 from Mills College, Oakland. She began her doctoral studies at UC Davis in 2011. She earlier served as a biological science technician (plants) for the U.S. Forest Service, Groveland, Calif., and ; a research consultant for BMP Ecosciences in San Francisco.
Active in the Entomological Society of America (ESA), Scampavia was a member of the 2014 UC Davis Student Debate Team that won first place in the nationals. She also was a member of the 2013 UC Davis Linnaean Games Team that won second at the annual meeting of the Pacific Branch of ESA.
He will receive an award of $16,000 to be used in support of his research activities. The Hellman Family Foundation established the UC Davis Hellman Fellows Program, which "supports and encourages the research of promising assistant professors who exhibit potential for great distinction in their research." Johnson's project title: "Genetic Mechanisms Underlying the Evolution of Novelty."
A luncheon honoring him and the other 11 UC DavisHellman Fellows is planned in late April or early May, said Lynn Daum of the UC Davis Vice Provost office, Academic Affairs. They will give a short presentation about their research.
Johnson is the second faculty member in the Department of Entomology and Nematology to receive the honor. Community ecologist Louie Yang received the distinction in 2012 as an assistant professor and is now an associate professor.
Johnson, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty in 2011, received his doctorate in 2004 from Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. in behavioral biology (thesis: “Organization of Work in the Honey Bee”). He obtained his bachelor's degree in 1998 from the UC San Diego, where he majored in ecology, behavior and evolution.
"Our lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution, and health of honey bees. We use experimental and theoretical approaches to all the questions we explore," he writes on his website. "Current work in our lab focuses on the evolution and genetic basis of social behavior using comparative and functional genomics, task allocation using behavioral and theoretical approaches, and honey bee health using a combination of genetics, epidemiology, and physiological approaches."
The complete list of Hellman Fellows for 2015 from the UC Davis campus:
- Brian Johnson, assistant professor, Entomology and Nematology
- Shu Shen, assistant professor, Economics
- Nicholas Zwyns, assistant professor, Anthropology
- Jessica Bissett Prerea, assistant professor, Native American Studies
- Chunjie Zhang, assistant professor, German and Russian
- Cassandra Hart, assistant professor, Education
- Siwei Liu, assistant professor, Ecology
- Danielle Stolzenberg, assistant professor, Psychology
- Helen Koo, assistant professor, Design
- Margaret Ronda, assistant professor, English
- Kevin Gee, assistant professor, Education
- Brett Milligan, assistant professor, Landscape Architecture, Human Ecology
Wild bee diversity is declining worldwide at unprecedented rates, and steps must be taken to conserve them--and not just those that are the main pollinators of agricultural crops, agreed 58 bee researchers in a study published today (June 16) in Nature Communications, an open-access journal based in London.
"This study provides important support for the role of wild bees to crop pollination through a comprehensive global summary,” said co-author and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, associate professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “At the same time, we found that in any one region, much of the pollination services from wild bees to a given crop come from just a few species, thus we need to be careful about using a simplistic economic ecosystem-services argument for biodiversity conservation and maintain actions that target biodiversity as specific goal. "
Wild bees, or non-managed bees, include bumble bees (genus Bombus), sweat bees (genus Lasioglossum) and small carpenter bees (genus Ceratina).
The study, led by David Kleijn of Wageningen University, The Netherlands, found that of the almost 80 percent of crop pollination provided solely by wild bees, only 2 percent are by the most common species. This indicates that the benefits of conserving only economically important organisms are not the same as the benefits of conserving a broad diversity of species, the researchers said.
The paper, “Delivery of Crop Pollination Services is an Insufficient Argument for Wild Pollinator Conservation,” is online at http://www.nature.com/naturecommunications. Among the co-authors are native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, and conservation biologist Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley, a longtime associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“My role in this paper was through my collaborations with Neal Williams and Claire Kremen in their research projects on crop pollination by native bees,” Thorp said. “My identifications of the bees they sampled, provided the raw data for the calculations performed on the diversity and abundances of the bees pollinating the crops they studied.”
“There is compelling evidence that more diverse ecosystems deliver greater benefits to people, and these ecosystem services have become a key argument for biodiversity conservation,” the researchers wrote in their abstract. “However, it is unclear how much biodiversity is needed to deliver ecosystem services in a cost-effective way. Here we show that, while the contribution of wild bees to crop production is significant, service delivery is restricted to a limited subset of all known bee species. Across crops, years and biogeographical regions, crop-visiting wild bee communities are dominated by a small number of common species, and threatened species are rarely observed on crops.”
“Dominant crop pollinators,” they pointed out, “persist under agricultural expansion and many are easily enhanced by simple conservation measures, suggesting that cost-effective management strategies to promote crop pollination should target a different set of species than management strategies to promote threatened bees. Conserving the biological diversity of bees therefore requires more than just ecosystem-service-based arguments.”
The researchers analyzed data from more than 90 studies on five continents, including Europe and North America. They concluded that the higher levels of biodiversity provide greater benefits to the functioning and stability of ecosystems, with some functions also being “economically beneficial” for humans.
Kleijn and his colleagues studied 785 species, analyzing which provide the best economic returns from crop pollination. They found that wild bee communities contribute an average of more than $3,251 per hectare (2.471 acres) to the production of crops, and that they provide the same economic contributions as managed honey bee colonies. However, they also noted that the majority of crop pollination services provided by wild bees are accomplished by only a small subset of the most common species.
“Across the 90 studies, we collected a total of 73,649 individual bees of 785 species visiting crop flowers,” the authors wrote. “Although is an impressive number, it represents only 12.6 percent of the currently known number of species occurring in the states or countries where our studies took place. When we consider only bee species that contribute 5 percent or more to the relative visitation rate of any single study, the percentage drops to 3 percent of the species in the regional species pool. Yet these 2 percent of species account for almost 80 percent of all crop visits.”
These results suggest that conservation efforts targeted directly at a few species providing the majority of ecosystem services, such as crop pollination, would represent a good strategy if the goal is to improve economic returns. However, they said such a strategy is unlikely to be compatible with conserving threatened species and biological diversity “if the goal is to improve the functioning and stability of ecosystems.”
Williams worked with Kleijn and Winfree of Rutgers University New Brunswick, N.J., to conceive of some of the approaches used, particularly suggested looking at the abundance distributions of crop bees within the larger species pools of the region to understand whether the most important crop pollinators species are simply the common bees overall.
Williams and Kremen also contributed to the manuscript, from the early drafts to the final versions.
Activities will include bee observation and identification, honey tasting, sales of native bee houses to support the haven, and information about low-water plants.
The garden, planted in the fall of 2009, is located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden was founded and "came to life" during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project. It is now managed by Chris Casey, staff director, and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño , faculty director.
Kimsey was singled out for her work when the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America honored her and four others--"The Bee Team"--with the 2013 outstanding team award.
A Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki--won the design competition.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, has found more than 85 species of bees since its inception.