Professor Thorp (1933-2019), a 30-year member of the Department of Entomology and Nematology and a worldwide authority on bees, was a tireless advocate of bumble bee conservation. During his retirement, he co-authored Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University, 2014) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday, 2014).
And every summer from 2002 to 2018, Thorp volunteered his time and expertise to teach at The Bee Course, an annual workshop sponsored by the American Museum of Natural History and held at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz.
Thorp also served as the regional co-chair of the Wild Bee Specialist Group of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and sounded the alarm about bumble bee declines, including Franklin's bumble bee, Bombus franklini, found only in its narrow distribution range of southern Oregon and northern California. Thorp last saw it near Mt. Ashland in 2006 and it is is now feared extinct or at the brink of extinction. The bee inhabits--or did--a 13,300-square-mile area confined to five counties--Siskiyou and Trinity counties in California; and Jackson, Douglas and Josephine counties in Oregon.
Enter the California Bumble Bee Atlas (CBBA), a collaboration of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Sacramento, and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, headquartered in Portland, Ore. Launched in March 2022, the Atlas is a "collaborative community science effort to track and conserve the state's native bumble bee species," according to Dylan Winkler, bumble bee scientific aide for the CDFW's Wildlife Diversity Program.
Back in September 2021, CDFW announced that the American bumble bee, "whose populations have plummeted by nearly 90 percent, may warrant Endangered Species Act protection." The announcement kicked off a one-year status assessment of the species. (See news story)
If you're interested in bumble bee conservation, take note. Winkler will lead a "Bumble Bee Walk" from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 28 in the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. The goal is to teach interested participants how to survey bumble bees. You can pre-register at https://arcg.is/0PDyO4. Organizers plan to cap attendance at 20 people. Details about this Atlas event and several more scheduled in June:
- Saturday, May 28: UC Davis Arboretum, Davis, CA (Yolo County), parking at Putah Creek Lodge Parking Lot, Garrod Drive, Davis, CA 95616. Tour of the native plant gardens and the forest along Putah Creek from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Saturday, June 4: The Gardens at Lake Merritt, 666 Bellevue Avenue, Oakland, CA (Alameda County). Tour of the gardens from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
- Sunday, June 5: College of Marin at Kentfield (Marin County), parking at covered Lots 6/7 off College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904. Details: Meet at bridge over Corte Madera Creek. Tour of the campus native plants from 10 a.m. to noon.
- Saturday, June 18: Soil Born Farms, Rancho Cordova, CA (Sacramento County), parking at Soil Born Farms: American River Ranch, 2140 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95670. As part of National Pollinator Week, the group will tour the gardens from 10 a.m. to noon. Closed-toed shoes required.
Of the 50 species of bumble bees found in North America, an estimated 25 inhabit California. Overall, a quarter is at risk, according to the Atlas website. The decline is attributed to "loss or fragmentation of habitat, pesticide exposure, climate change, overgrazing, competition with honey bees, low genetic diversity, and perhaps most significant of all, the introduction and distribution of pathogens through commercial honey bee and bumble bee colonies used for crop pollination. All of these factors likely interact, increasing pollinator vulnerability. To support bumble bees, it is critical to protect existing habitat while creating and maintaining new habitat."
Winkler says "we will be using butterfly nets to catch bees, then move them to small vials, and chill them in coolers with ice, so we can take ID'able photographs of them before releasing." The full protocol is at https://www.cabumblebeeatlas.org/point-surveys.html
What bumble bees might you see May 28 in the Arboretum? Bombus vosnesenskii, the yellow-faced bumble bee, and B. melanopygus, the black-tailed bumble bee. "There is a record of B. crotchii at the arboretum from last year around the same date, which is rare and would be amazing to see!" Winkler said.
The project is funded by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Fund. Funding is also provided by the Bureau of Land Management and several private foundations. Read more about the project and the list of coordinators here.
Page studies with major professor and pollination ecologist Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Her work suggests that honey bees reduce pollen and nectar availability in flowers, leading to competitive displacement of native bees.
"Competitive displacement of native bees may in turn decrease plant pollination because native bees are often more effective than native bees as pollinators," Page says. "My research suggests that such changes are already occurring for Camassia quamash (small camas) following honey bee introductions in the Sierra Nevada."
Page is scheduled to receive her doctorate in entomology in June 2022 and then begin a postdoctoral fellowship with assistant professor Scott McArt at Cornell University, where she will investigate patterns of interspecific pathogen transmission and how more sustainable beekeeping practices might mitigate the negative effects of competition. McArt recently delivered a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on "Pesticide Risk to Pollinators: What We Know and What We Need to Know Better."
In July 2019, Page collaborated with colleagues at Cornell and the University of Minnesota to present a workshop on the intersections of science and social justice, aiming to make science more open and accessible.
Page holds a master's degree in entomology (2019) from UC Davis and a bachelor's degree in biology (2016), cum laude, from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif.
Highly recognized for her work, Page received a three-year $115,000 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense. She was one of 69 recipients out of more than 3600 applicants. She earlier won a campuswide 2016-17 Graduate Scholars Fellowship of $25,200; a Vansell Scholarship in both 2018 and 2019; and Davis Society Botanical grants in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A 2018 Duffey-Dingle Research Fellowship also helped fund her research (optimizing pollinator plant mixes to simultaneously support wild and managed bees).
Active in the Entomological Society of America and the Ecological Society of America, Page scored a second-place award for her project, "Optimizing Wildflower Plant Mixes to Support Wild and Managed Bees" in a 2021 student competition hosted by the Entomological Society of America. She also presented “Impacts of Honey Bee Introductions on the Pollination of a Sierra Wildflower" at the August 2020 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, and "Can Visitation and Pollen Transport Patterns Predict Plant Pollination?" at the April 2019 meeting of the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
A strong supporter of community outreach and STEM, Page has been active in leadership activities in the summer program, Girls Outdoor Adventure and Leadership (GOALS) since August 2017. The free program targets underrepresented teens. Page has served as a program co-organizer, mentor and lecturer. She helped organize the 2021 summer program, led a lecture on introductory data analysis, and assisted students with their community science project (identifying pollinators in urban gardens).
Page was also active in Center for Land-Based Learning, serving as a mentor in the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship. She mentored high school students, engaging them in hands-on conservation science at Say Hay Farm in Yolo County, and teaching them about how wildflower plantings benefit bees.
Page and postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of Williams lab co-authored the November 2021 cover story, A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and other Floral Visitors, in the American Journal of Botany
Do you know who discovered it?
That would be UC Davis distinguished professor James R. Carey of the Department of Entomology and Nematology, who will present a departmental seminar at 4:10 p.m. Wednesday, May 25, on "The Conceptual Sweep of a Mathematical Discovery in Insect Biodemography: From Medfly Populations to the U.S. Congress."
You can attend the seminar in person at 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus, or access it via Zoom. The Zoom link is https://ucdavis.zoom.us/j/99515291076.
"Twenty years ago while attempting to develop a new concept for studying insect aging in the wild, I discovered a previously unknown mathematical identity now referred to in the formal demography literature as the eponym Carey's Equality—the age distribution of a stationary population equals the distribution of lifetimes yet to come," Professor Carey says in his abstract. "In this seminar I will present my attempts at both operationalizing the concept for study of populations of insects and other non-human species, and generalizing it for applications to groups with fixed numbers of members and where renewal involves birth and death processes."
"These general applications include data from a British cemetery, the National Basketball Association, the Baltimore Longitudinal Health Study, the U.S. Congress (both chambers) and the world population," said Carey, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty since 1980. "After discussing implications and extensions of the identity, I will wrap up with descriptions of five simple but important demographic relations that all entomologists should know."
Highly honored for his research, teaching and public service, Carey served as the principal investigator of a 10-year, $10 million federal grant on “Aging in the Wild,” encompassing 14 scientists at 11 universities.
Biodemography Textbook. In 2020, he and Deborah Roach, professor and chair of the University of Virginia's Department of Biology, co-authored a 480-page textbook, Biodemography: An Introduction to Concepts and Methods, published by Princeton University Press and hailed as the “definitive textbook for the emerging field of biodemography, integrating biology, mathematics and demography.” Carey recently created a free-access, video guidebook with a playlist of 175 separate presentations, subtitled in 300 different languages. He storyboarded the script, turned graphs, schematics, tables and equations into animated slides, and then with teleprompter assistance, narrated and video-recorded the 175 presentations, which span 12 hours of viewing. It appears on UC Berkeley Population Sciences website at https://bit.ly/3FTge7u.
An internationally recognized teacher, Carey won a 2018 global award in the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching Program, an academic competition sponsored every two years by Baylor University, Waco, Texas. He received the 2015 Distinguished Achievement in Teaching Award from the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award from the Pacific Branch of ESA. The UC Davis Academic Senate honored him as the recipient of its 2014 Distinguished Teaching Award, given to internationally recognized professors who excel at teaching.
Carey is a fellow of four organizations: American Association for the Advancement of Science, Entomological Society of America, California Academy of Science and the Gerontological Society of America. He holds a doctorate in entomology (1980) from UC Berkeley, and two degrees from Iowa State University: a bachelor of science degree in animal biology (1973) and a master's degree in entomology (1975).
Nematologist Shahid Siddique, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, coordinates the spring seminars. He may be reached at email@example.com for any technical issues regarding Zoom. (See complete list of spring seminars.)
It's World Bee Day!
How did that come about?
One word: Slovenia.
The Republic of Slovenia, rich in beekeeping history, asked the United Nations to proclaim an annual World Bee Day, and following a three-year international effort, the United Nations agreed to do so in December 2017.
So May 20 is the annual World Bee Day.
"Slovenia LOVES bees and beekeeping and it seems like California does, too!" says Wendy Mather, program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP). "There are 72 Apprentice Assistant and 93 Apprentice level candidates vying for their CAMBP certification this year! The '22 season is buzzing."
Mather points out: "World Bee Day is a confirmation that we humans respect and appreciate our dependence on one of our favorite generalist pollinators, the honey bee, for a healthy, diverse diet. Bee health equals human health and we thank all our CAMBP volunteers for their service to humanity in helping to raise awareness of the importance of bee health and science-based beekeeping. Our members are honey bee ambassadors and are committed to environmental stewardship."
Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is the founding director of CAMBP. The organization has disseminated science-based beekeeping information through a network of trained volunteers since 2016.
CAMBP's vision is "to train Apprentice, Journey and Master level beekeepers so they can effectively communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators within their communities, serve as mentors for other beekeepers, and become the informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and UCCE staff," according to its website.
Beekeepers and prospective beekeepers can sign up for classes, which run from February through October. Upcoming classes (many online but some in person)
- Honey Bee Health, May 21
- All About Varroa, June 4
- Queen Rearing Basics, June 11
- Pesticides, Colony Collapse Disorder, Research and Hope, June 18
- Wax Working, Honey and Hive Products, July 9
- Advanced Anatomy and Physiology of the Honey Bee, Aug. 13
- Seasonal Honey Bee Colony Management in Southern California, Sept. 17
- Broodminder: Apiary Technology and Honey Bee Health, Oct. 15
- Exploring Beekeeping in Person at the South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine, Oct. 22
That's it for the 2022 classes. In addition, there's an "Introduction to Mead" class offered Nov. 5. Mead or honey wine, is the world's oldest alcoholic beverage.
Let's hear it for the bees!
So there we were, checking out the bumble bee mimics (Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana) on May 9 at Bodega Head, Sonoma County, and along buzzes a pollen-packing Habropoda miserabilis, the bee that UC Davis doctoral alumnus Leslie Saul-Gershenz studies.
The female bee was literally making a "bee-line" for the mustard and wild radish. Bee research scientist John Ascher identified it.
We remember when Saul-Gershenz lent her expertise to the "long lost" silver digger bees found in March of 2019 in the newly restored sand dunes at the San Francisco Presidio. The Presidio, a former military post, is now owned and operated by the National Park Service.
An authority on digger bees, Saul-Gershenz confirmed to the National Park Service officials that they are H. miserabilis and were probably common in the sandy dunes of that area as late as the 1920s. When non-native ivy, eucalyptus and ice plants took over their habitat, the bees disappeared.
“The discovery of a thriving native bee colony on the western side of the Presidio is the latest example of how the removal of invasive plants and the restoration of dunes and grasses at the former military base have helped bring back coastal habitat that thrived in San Francisco for tens of thousands of years before the city was built,” said Saul-Gershenz, formerly a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Research Service.
“I am very happy to see this nest site at the Presidio,” she told us at the time. She's worked on the biology, chemical ecology and parasite interactions of this group of bees in the genus Habropoda for many years--on research trips that have taken her to the Oregon coast and the Mojave desert, among others.
She and several colleagues are completing a paper on H. miserabilis on its distribution and host plant use in western United States: "Habropoda miserabilis Cresson (Hymenoptera: Apidae): Floral Habits, Distribution, and Nesting Biology."
“This nest parasite M. franciscanus was originally described from the dunes in San Francisco near Lake Merced by Van Dyke in 1928,” Saul-Gershenz related. “It is presumed to be locally extirpated in San Francisco due to habitat alteration. However, its host bee, H. miserabilis, appears to have finally found a suitable nest location in a sand dune area being restored by the Presidio Trust in the Presidio National Park. The resiliency of nature provides hope for the future.”
In a news story published in the San Francisco Chronicle on March 29, 2019, science reporter Peter Fimrite quoted the UC Davis-trained entomologist as saying that the silver digger bees were “all but gone” by the mid-20th century. However, Saul-Gershenz has kept looking for them. In fact, she collected one near Baker Beach in 1998.
With restoration, comes hope for the return of native plants and insects.
"Biologists have reported a more than tenfold increase in the number of native plants in the Presidio, including at least four that are federally listed endangered or threatened, among them the Presidio clarkia," wrote Fimrite. "The Franciscan manzanita, which was believed to be extinct in the wild, was discovered in the Presidio in 2009. It was the first of its kind seen in its native San Francisco since the old Laurel Hill Cemetery was bulldozed in 1947 and paved over for homes."
Gershenz and collaborator Jocelyn Millar of UC Riverside and others deciphered the sex attraction of Habropoda miserabilis and the deceptive mimicking blend used by its nest parasite Meloe franciscanus working with a population on the coast of Oregon (Saul-Gershenz et al. 2018). They documented a new parasite-host location system while conducting research on related species in the same genus Habropoda pallida found in the Mojave and Sonoran Desert (Saul-Gershenz and Millar 2006).
The comeback of silver digger bees is not limited to San Francisco. Fimrite related that several other areas in California are witnessing comebacks, including Bodega Marine Reserve in Bodega Bay and Lanphere Dunes in the Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
Yes, they are.