Nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds, too, and can influence a pollinator's foraging preference, according to newly published research led by UC Davis community ecologist Rachel Vannette.
The groundbreaking research, published in the current edition of New Phytologist journal, shows that nectar-inhabiting species of bacteria and fungi “can influence pollinator preference through differential volatile production,” said Vannette, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“This extends our understanding of how microbial species can differentially influence plant phenotype and species interactions through a previously overlooked mechanism,” Vannette said. “It's a novel mechanism by which the presence and species composition of the microbiome can influence pollination.”
“Broadly, our results imply that the microbiome can contribute to plant volatile phenotype,” she said. “This has implications for many plant-insect interactions.”
Their paper, titled “Nectar-inhabiting Microorganisms Influence Nectar Volatile Composition and Attractiveness to a Generalist Pollinator,” may explain in part the previous documented extreme variation floral volatiles that Robert Junker of University of Salzburg, Austria, and his team found; New Phytologist published their work in March 2017.
Although microbes commonly inhabit floral nectar, microbial species differ in volatile profiles, they found. “Honey bees detected most of the microbial volatiles or scents that we tested,” Vannette said, “and they distinguished the solutions of yeasts or bacteria based on volatiles only.” This suggests that pollinators could choose among flowers based on the microbes that inhabit those flowers.
The yeast Metschnikowia reukaufii produced the most distinctive compounds (some shared with the fruity flavors in wine) and was the most attractive of all microbes compared. This yeast is commonly found in flower nectar and is thought to hitch a ride on pollinators to travel from one flower to the next. Its scent production may help it attract pollinators, which then help the yeast disperse among flowers.
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, provided the honey bees. More than 20 species of flowers--mostly natives--were used in the survey, including canyon delphinium or canyon larkspur (Delphinium nudicaule), sticky monkey flower (Mimulus aurantiacus), salvia (Lepechinia calycina) and purple Chinese houses (Collinsia heterophylla). The samplings were done in the spring and early summer, when the natives are at their peak.
Co-authors of the paper are Caitlin Rering, postdoctoral fellow at USDA-ARS, Gainesville, Fla.; John Beck researcher at USDA-ARS; Griffin Hall, junior specialist in the Vannette lab; and Mitch McCartney in UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
The USDA and USDA-ARS funded the research.
President Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is serving his sixth term as president since its founding at UC Davis by faculty members Norm Gary and Mussen, along with then postdoctoral fellow Becky Westerdahl, now an Extension nematologist in the department.
The conference, to be held primarily in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), kicks off with the three co-founders engaging in nostalgia. Many former WAS officers and founding members are expected to attend and participate in the lively session.
The conference is open to all interested persons; registration is now underway at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org/ The pre-registration deadline is July 31; the cost will advance after that.
“It's a good opportunity to learn about current scientific honey and native bee research, from the researchers themselves, on varying topics such as foraging behavior, parasites, predators, and diseases of bees,” Mussen said, “and to speak directly to the researchers concerning their research findings and any other bee-related topics.
Speakers will include:
- Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum of Ohio, who will discuss "The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene"
- Les Crowder of Texas, co-author of the book, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health, who will focus on "Managing Honey Bee Colonies in Top-Bar Hives" with co-author Heather Harrell
- Larry Connor of Michigan, who will address more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals with his presentation “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.”
- Sonoma County beekeeper Serge Labesque, who will discuss“natural seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree
Beekeepers and other participants will learn about pesticides, and styles of beekeeping from "leave alone," through "essential intervention," to "intensive intervention," Mussen said.
Also planned: tours of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis; Mann Lake warehouse and products showroom in Woodland; and the Z Specialty Foods, Woodland.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will lead a formal honey tasting.
More information is pendng.
The family friendly science-based event, set from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will showcase 12 museums collections, said Biodiversity Museum Day coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology. All 12 collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road.
It is free open to the public, and parking is also free.
The committee lists these attractions, geared toward children ages 6 to 10, but also interesting to all age groups:
You can "pet" walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and tarantulas at the live "petting zoo" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane.
You can marvel at the huge dinosaur bones in the Paleontology Collection in the Earth and Physical Sciences Building on Crocker Lane.
You can see carnivorous plants "swallow" flies and other unsuspecting insects in the Botanical Conservatory, off Kleiber Hall Drive.
You can sample Vegemite and kombucha at the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, situated in the Earth and Physical Sciences Building on Crocker Lane.
You can get up close to hawks and other birds of prey and watch demonstrations at the California Raptor Center on Old Davis Road. You can also check out the Raptor Center museum and even pick apart owl pellets to look for bones.
You can see prehistoric tools and watch demonstrations of flint knapping and atlati throwing at the Anthropology Museum display, Young Hall, central campus.
You can catch bees and other insects in a vacuum device for a catch-and-release activity at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, and get a close-up view of the queen bee, workers and drones in the bee observation hive.
You can engage in leaf rubbing activities, olive wreath crown making and some interactive activities dealing with erosion control and composting at the Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road.
You can also look through the portable Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), borrowed from Hitachi. It will be located in the Academic Surge Building, either in the Bohart Museum or in the Wildlife Room, said Yang.
The UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day is also a good time for prospective students to learn about possible majors.
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum, Young Hall
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, Yang said, but the collections are not always accessible to the public, Yang said. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
For further information about the event, access the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
Williams will speak Feb. 28 on On-Farm Pollinator Benefits for Watermelon Pollination. Williams, an associate professor of pollination and biology and a Chancellor's Fellow, serves as the faculty co-director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and is a member of UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute. His applied research addresses the integration of wild and managed bees for pollination of diverse agricultural crops including seed production, row crops and orchards.
His research addresses a series of questions:
- Under what contexts, in terms of local management and landscape context, can native pollinators provide sufficient pollination for different crops?
- How can we enhance habitat and diversify agricultural systems to promote managed and wild bees?
- Do pollinators like honey bees and wild bees interact in ways to increase the overall effectiveness of crop pollination?
The answers to these questions help alleviate the stress placed on honey bees, Williams says, and also "inform ways to more sustainability manage agricultural systems to promote biodiversity and production."
Williams worked extensively in agro-ecosystems in California's Central Valley and in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A continuing goal is to provide practical information that can be used to improve the long-term stability of pollination for agriculture in California, as well as promote pollinator conservation and management. His work in the East and West has helped form the basis for pollinator conservation planting guidelines.
All speakers will discuss their research, and engage with the audience, said webinar co-coordinator Katharina Ullmann, national crop pollination specialist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Davis (studying with major professor Neal Williams). Co-coordinator is Extension apiculturist and professor John Skinner of the University of Tennessee.
The webinar series will examine the role of wild bees, honey bees and other managed bees in supporting crop pollination and yield in almond, blueberry, tree fruit, pumpkin, and watermelon. Each webinar will be 45-60 minutes long, with time for questions and a discussion with the presenter. Each registered attendee will later receive a link to the slides.
"The majority of U.S. specialty crop growers depend on bees for pollination of their crops," Ullmann said. "Growers know that without adequate pollination, they would not be profitable. But what are the best pollination strategies for fruit, vegetable, and nut crops? What farm management practices can growers use to support bees and the crop pollination they provide?"
To register, attendees can click on each link:
- Jan. 24, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Ensuring Almond Pollination (Theresa Pitts-Singer, USDA-ARS and Utah State University)
- Jan. 31, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Pollinating Highbush Blueberries: Bees Bring Bigger Berries (Rufus Isaacs, Michigan State University)
- Feb. 14, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Pollinating Apples and Cherries East of the Rockies (Julianna Wilson, Michigan State University)
- Feb. 28, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: On-Farm Pollinator Benefits for Watermelon Pollination (Neal Williams, University of California, Davis)
- March 21, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: Ensuring Pumpkin Pollination (Shelby Fleischer, Pennsylvania State University)
- March 28, 11 a.m., Pacific Time: How to Manage Solitary Orchard Bees for Crop Pollination (Theresa Pitts-Singer, USDA-ARS and Utah State University)
The webinar series will be hosted by eXtension.org, an online Cooperative Extension network. The webinars are free and open to the public and can be accessed by anyone with an internet connection.
For more information about the webinar series, access the Bee Health eXtension.org website or email email@example.com. Funding for the webinar series will be provided by the Integrated Crop Pollination Project, a USDA-NIFA Specialty Crop Research Initiative Grant (#2012-51181-20105). Plans are to offer continuing education credits for certified crop advisors.
The E. L. Niño Bee Lab, directed by Extension Apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, University of California, Davis, is now recruiting for its first-ever California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP). The deadline to fill out the application form is Wednesday, June 1. Notifications of acceptance will be made by June 15.
Its mission: “To provide science-based education to future stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. The apprentice level is designed to build a solid foundation of basic beekeeping skill and knowledge. When participants achieve this level they may opt to stop or continue on to the more advanced levels: journeyman and master levels.”
“We are extremely excited about launching this program which will bring timely and most current beekeeping and other pollinator information to the stakeholders in California," said coordinator Bernardo Niño. "With the increased interest in beekeeping and need for continued public education we really want to engage those who love bees as much as we do be the true bee ambassadors in their communities."
"And with unique challenges for beekeeping in California--that is, about two million bee colonies end up in California in February each year for almond pollination--it was time to have a California-based program," he said. "We are here to support the bees and the beekeepers and we can't wait to start this new partnership."
A $200 program fee will be due no later than July 1. This cost covers a single exam fee, CAMBP study guide, priority access and program discount to all CAMBP-approved courses at UC Davis.
Individuals must score 75 percent or higher on both a written and field practical examination.
Upon completion, apprentice level beekeepers will at the minimum be able to complete the following practical tasks:
- Light and appropriately operate a smoker (including fire safety crucial for California)
- Identify different casts in the colony
- Confidently open and examine a colony
- Properly manage the colony throughout the year
- Be able to identify and take care of any issues that the colony encounters
- Identify and build/assemble standard hive equipment
- Be able to properly feed colonies if needed
- Prevent colony robbing
- Monitor for pathogens and pests
- Re-queen a colony
They are also expected to engage in community service activities, such as assisting members of youth organizations with bee-related projects; giving a public demonstration on beekeeping at a fair, festival or other similar event; or successfully mentoring a new beekeeper through at least one season.
The program is so far supported by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Kaiser Family Foundation, Mann Lake LTD, and Gilroy Beekeepers Association.
More information, including the application form, is available at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/CAMBP.html or call (530) 380-BUZZ (2899).