- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will be one of three guests on the National Public Radio program, Science Friday, on Friday, May 24. The program will air live at noon.
“I will be talking a bit about my research and extension program and will be there to answer questions from the public about bees,” said Niño, who will be interviewed tomorrow (Friday) at a studio on the UC Davis campus.
The program, hosted by Ira Flatow, features two other guests: Professor Tom Seeley, bee scientist, researcher and author, of Cornell University, Ithaca; and New York city police officer and beekeeper Darren Mays, who keeps hives on the roof of the 104th precinct.
Senior producer Christopher Intagliata said plans call for introducing Seeley at the top of the hour, and then bringing in Niño around 12:30. Officer Mays will be introduced at 12:40.
Niño, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2014 from Pennsylvania State University, researches honey bee biology, health, reproduction, pollination biology, insect ecology, evolution, genomics and chemical ecology, and genomics. She directs the California Master Beekeeper Program and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Born and reared in Bosnia in Eastern Europe, Elina moved to the United States with plans to become a veterinarian. She obtained her bachelor's degree in animal science at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., but while there, enrolled in an entomology class on the recommendation of her adviser. “I was hooked,” she recalled.
Following her graduation from Cornell in 2003, she received her master's degree in entomology from North Carolina State University and her doctorate in entomology from Pennsylvania State University. She then served as a postdoctoral fellow in the honey bee lab of Christina Grozinger, who studies the genomics of chemical communication.
Seeley, a frequent speaker at UC Davis, keynoted the 2018 UC Davis Bee Symposium. He is the Horace White Professor in Biology, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University. He joined the faculty of Cornell in 1986 and holds a doctorate in biology from Harvard.
Seeley says that is scientific work primarily focuses on "understanding the phenomenon of swarm intelligence (SI): the solving of cognitive problems by a group of individuals who pool their knowledge and process it through social interactions. It has long been recognized that a group of animals, relative to a solitary individual, can do such things as capture large prey more easily and counter predators more effectively. More recently it has been realized that a group of animals, with the right organization, can also solve cognitive problems with an ability that far exceeds the cognitive ability of any single animal. Thus SI is a means whereby a group can overcome some of the cognitive limitations of its members. SI is a rapidly developing topic that has been investigated mainly in social insects (ants, termites, social wasps, and social bees) but has relevance to other animals, including humans. Wherever there is collective decision-making—for example, in democratic elections, committee meetings, and prediction markets—there is a potential for SI."
Seeley is the author of numerous books, including Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life, Princeton University Press; The Wisdom of the Hive: The Social Physiology of Honeybee Colonies. Harvard University Press; Honeybee Democracy. Princeton University Press, Following the Wild Bees: The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting. Princeton University Press; and The Lives of the Bees: The Untold Story of Honey Bees in the Wild, Princeton University Press.
Mays is a well-known rooftop beekeeper. According to a 2018 article in the Business Insider, he "gained temporary fame this summer when he vacuumed up a migrating swarm of bees that perched atop a hot dog cart umbrella in Times Square." At night, he patrols the streets of Queens, and by day, he keeps the bees.
"Mays and another officer, Michael Lauriano, are responsible for responding to any issue a New Yorker calls in with that involves a 'stinging insect.' He said he responds to about a dozen calls during a typical summer, as people request help with bee swarms, wasps nests, and more. Before Mays and Lauriano, an officer named Anthony 'Tony Bees' Planakis served as the NYPD's first bee 911 responder."
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
A number of eminent bee scientists will be speaking soon at UC Davis. They include David Tarby, Gene Robinson and Dennis vanEngelsdorp.
David Tarpy, Wednesday, Feb. 3
Extension apiculturist/professor David Tarpy of North Carolina State University will present a seminar on "Young Regality: a Day in the Life of a Virgin Queen Bee" from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 3 in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive, UC Davis.
The seminar, free and open to all interested persons, is part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's noonhour seminars. It also will be recorded for later posting on UCTV. His host is Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Social insects have long fascinated entomologists, and honey bees have been a model system for their study," said Tarpy, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis in 2000 with major professor Robert Page, former chair of the Department of Entomology and now university provost emeritus and Foundation chair of Life Sciences, Arizona State University. "At the heart of the colony is a single queen, the mother of all nestmates and critical member for colony productivity. The natural history of queens is a fascinating story, one that interweaves the complexities of social behavior, genetics, and evolutionary ecology."
Tarpy joined the North Carolina State University faculty in 2003 after completing a postdoctoral fellowship with Tom Seeley of Cornell University. He received his bachelor's degree in biology in 1993 from Hobart College and his master's degree in biology in 1995 from Bucknell University.
Gene Robinson, Monday, Feb. 22
Eminent honey bee scientist Gene E. Robinson of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will speak on “Me to We: Using Honey Bees to Find the Genetic Roots of Social Life” at the UC Davis Chancellor's Colloquium on Monday, Feb. 22 in Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts. This was initially scheduled to take place in the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, but has been changed due to the increasing registration.
His presentation, part of the Chancellor's Colloquium Distinguished Speakers Series, is from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Registration is underway on the Chancellor's Colloquium series website. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.
Robinson pioneered the application of genomics to the study of social behavior and led the effort to sequence the honey bee genome.
Robinson is the University Swanlund chair and directs the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) and the Bee Research Facility. He received his doctorate in entomology from Cornell University in 1986 and joined the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.
Dennis vanEngelsdorp, Saturday, May 7
The second annual UC Davis Bee Symposium is scheduled Saturday, May 7, with details forthcoming. We do know, however, that bee scientist Dennis vanEngelsdorp of the University of Maryland will be among the featured speakers, according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. So mark your calendars for this all-day symposium.
Van Engelsdorp says on his website: "My research focus on pollinator health, and honey bee health specifically. I am particularly intrigued with using an epidemiological approach to understanding and (importantly) improving honey bee health. This approach is multi-faceted, requiring understanding both the etiology of individual bee diseases and the large scale monitoring of colony health."
Van Engelsdor presented an outstanding TED talk on "A Plea for Bees" back in July of 2008 and you can watch it here. The teaser: "Bees are dying in droves. Why? Leading apiarist Dennis vanEngelsdorp looks at the gentle, misunderstood creature's important place in nature and the mystery behind its alarming disappearance."
If you missed the 2015 UC Davis Bee Symposium, you missed hearing Marla Spivak, the distinguished McKnight Professor in the Department of Entomology at the University of Minnesota and winner of a MacArthur Genius Grant, deliver the keynote address. She delivered a TED talk in June of 2003 on our disappearing bees and you can watch it here.
Meanwhile, check out the Honey and Pollination Center website to see photos and data from the inaugural UC Davis Bee Symposium. UC Davis is the place to "bee" to learn about bees.
The bees are a'buzzing!