Bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, received a generous gift of $30,000, thanks to Debra "Debbie" Jamison of Fresno, California state regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR),
Jamison, who has always loved bees and appreciated their work, spearheaded the DAR drive. She recently presented the check to officials at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist,” Jamison told the crowd at the UC Davis ceremony. “Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”
So when Jamison, whose first name means "bee" in Hebrew, became state regent of the California State Society of DAR, she adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees.
Jamison and her state regent project chair, Karen Montgomery of Modesto, presented the $30,000 check to Edwin Lewis, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and bee scientist/assisant professor Brian Johnson at a ceremony in the department's Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Lewis gratefully accepted the check on behalf of the department and noted that his mother, Betty Lewis, is an active member of the DAR Owasco Chapter in Auburn, N.Y. “My mother would definitely approve of this project,” he quipped. Lewis gifted Jamison with a mosaic ceramic figure of a bee, crafted by Davis artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
The funds will be used in the Johnson lab. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.
Jamison has visited the Laidlaw facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven several times. Last September she and Fresno beekeeper Brian Liggett "talked bees" and bee health with Cooperative Extension specialist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology.
Like the DAR, the honey bee is closely linked to America. European colonists brought the honey bee to the Jamestown Colony, Virginia, in 1622, some 153 years before the American Revolution. Native Americans called it “the white man’s fly.” Honey bees did not arrive in California until 1853, transported via the Isthmus of Panama.
The U. S. honey bee population has declined by about a third since 2006 due to the mysterious malady known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), said Mussen, attributing CCD to multiple factors including disease, pests, parasites, pesticides, malnutrition and stress.
Meanwhile, the gift from the nation’s oldest genealogical society to support one of the world’s oldest--and the most beneficial--insects, the honey bee, is a gift from the heart.
Congrats to “The Bee Team” at the University of California, Davis.
The one-of-a-kind team, comprised of five Department of Entomology faculty members, received the coveted team award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), for their collaborative work specializing in honey bees, wild bees and pollination issues through research, education and outreach.
Their service to UC Davis spans 116 years.
The “Bee Team” is comprised of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology who coordinated the development and installation of a landmark bee friendly garden; and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in pollination and bee biology; and biologist/apiculturist Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in bee communication, bee behavior and bee health.
PBESA represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Thorp, who retired from the university in 1994, continues to work full-time on behalf of the bees, and has tallied 49 years of service to UC Davis. Mussen, who will retire in June of 2014, has provided 37 years of service; Kimsey, 24; Williams, 4 and Johnson, 2.
“The collaborative team exceptionally serves the university, the state, the nation, and indeed the world, in research, education and public service,” wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “The Bee Team is really the ‘A’ team; no other university in the country has this one-of-a-kind expertise about managed bees, wild bees, pollination, bee health, bee identification, and bee preservation. Honey bee health is especially crucial. Since 2006 when the colony collapse disorder surfaced, we as a nation have been losing one-third of our bees annually. Some beekeepers are reporting 50 to 100 percent winter losses. The importance of bees cannot be underestimated: one-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.”
Among those lending support to The Bee Team through letters were the Mary Delany, interim chair of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; AnnMaria "Ria" de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau Federation; Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California Task Force Liaison; and Mace Vaughn, pollinator conservation program director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
The new year hasn't begun, but already assistant professors Joanna Chiu and Brian Johnson are gearing up for the UC Davis Department of Entomology's winter seminar series, set Jan. 9-March 13.
All seminars will take place on Wednesdays from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison Drive and Kleiber Hall Drive. The seminars will be video-recorded and posted at a later date on UCTV. So, if you can't make it to the seminar in person, you can cozy up to your computer monitor at a later date.
They promise to be educational and informative.
Erin Wilson, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Louie Yang lab in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, leads off with her talk about "Effects of Omnivorous Invaders on Arthropod Communities in a Fragmented Landscape." She will zero in on those pesty rats (Rattus rattus) in Hawaii.
Wednesday, Jan. 9
Postdoctoral Associate, University of Maryland
Title: "Effects of Omnivorous Invaders on Arthropod Communities in a Fragmented Landscape"
Host: Louie Yang, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, Jan. 16
Michael Branstetter (exit seminar)
Buck Postdoctoral Fellow, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Title: "Uncovering the Origins of a Middle American Ant Radiation: insights from Natural History, Biogeography and Molecular Data"
Host: Phil Ward, professor. UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, Jan. 23
William Neal Reynolds Professor of Biology, North Carolina State University
Title: "Landscape Conservation for Rare Insects"
Host: Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, Jan. 30
Paul de Barro
Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO ecosystem sciences
Title: "Unravelling the Complex Bemisia tabaci (Silverleaf Whitefly): From Biotype to Species"
Host: Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology
Wednesday, Feb. 6
Entomologist, USDA-ARS Bee Biology Lab
Title: "Dietary Needs of Adult Solitary Bees: Consequences for Reproduction and Pollination"
Host: Leslie Saul-Gershanz, graduate student in the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, Feb. 13
Higgins Family Professor of Neuroscience, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Title: "Monarch Butterfly Migration: Behavior to Genes"
Hosts: Joanna Chiu, assistant professor, and Hugh Dingle, emeritus professor
Wednesday, Feb. 20
Professor, UC Berkeley
Title: "Light Brown Apple Moth – Not a Typical Invader"
Host: Mary Louise Flint, entomology specialist and associate director for Urban and Community Integrated Pest Management (IPM), UC Statewide IPM Program
Wednesday, Feb. 27
Assistant Professor, UC Riverside
Title: "Taste Receptors and Feeding Preferences in Insects"
Host: Joanna Chiu, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, March 6
Assistant Professor, University of Lausanne
Title: "Ecological, Evolutionary and Genetic Drivers of Plant Defenses against Herbivores"
Host: Rick Karban, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology
Wednesday, March 13
Associate Professor, Kansas State University
Title: "Dissecting the Molecular Interplay Between Plant Viruses and their Arthropod Vectors"
Host: Diane Ullman, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, and associate dean for undergraduate academic programs in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
So, there you have it--everything from ants, monarchs and the light brown apple moth to feeding preferences in insects.
It will be a gathering of beekeepers next week in California.
And it promises to be informative, educational and inspiring.
Assistant professor Brian Johnson and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will speak at the 2012 California State Beekeepers Association’s annual convention, set Nov. 12 through Nov. 15 in Cabazon. The meeting will take place in the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa.
Johnson will discuss “Completed and Ongoing Research at the Laidlaw Bee Research Facility” during the Nov. 15th session. He will be presenting information on two sets of experiments he and his associates conducted at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, headquartered on Bee Biology Road.
“First we collected data suggesting that high fructose corn syrup blends are not harmful to colonies and that they may even be preferable to sucrose solution in the context of commercial beekeeping,” Johnson said. “Second, we showed that rates of multiple and single viral infection are higher in commercial beekeepers than in queen breeders or small scale hobbyists. This suggests that management practices can strongly affect rates of pathogen infection and that future efforts should be directed to mitigating these effects.”
Mussen, who also serves as parliamentarian on the CSBA governing board, will speak on “Honey Bee Nutrition” on Tuesday, Nov. 13 and “Keeping Your Bees in the Hive” on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
“The nutrition talk basically is to provide the beekeepers with information on the complexity of nutrients that are found in both pollens and nectars of various blooming plants,” Mussen said. “The complexity of the macro- and micro-nutrients is what makes the pollens so valuable to a complete bee diet. The complexity also is the reason why we have not developed a man-made substitute that can adequately replace pollens in honey bee diets.”
“In the honey bee colony’s quest to obtain adequate nutrition, the foraging bees visit an acre equivalent of flower blooms that they seek out in the 50-square mile area over which the foragers can range,” Mussen said.
In his other talk, “Keeping Bees in the Hive,” Mussen will discuss how “not to allow honey bee colonies to swarm.” He also will tell why strong colonies require an abundant supply of good pollens and nectar all the active season. “And finally, I will mention ways in which bees can be confined to the hive for short periods of time to avoid pesticide exposure or for moving the hives to new locations.”
Following the board of directors’ meeting--time permitting--Mussen will deliver a talk on “Africanized Honey Bees,’ tracing the history of the bees to 1956 when entomologist/professor Wawick Kerr imported 26 queen honey bees into Brazil from South Africa. Warwick hoped to hybridize tropical (African) and temperate climate (European bees) to obtain high honey production and better disposition. However, a beekeeper inadvertently released some of the descendants into the Western Hemisphere and they are now established in southern California and moving into central California.
Some of the bees trucked from all over the country, including Arizona and Texas, to pollinate California's 800,000 acres of almonds are Africanized bees.
So, beekeepers will hear about research, malnutrition, pests, parasites, pesticides, diseases, migratory stress and other topics.
There's a lot troubling the bees--and the beekeepers--today.
Those are some of the topics to be covered at the UC Davis Department of Entomology's fall noonhour seminars, to begin Wednesday, Oct. 17 and continue through Wednesday, Nov. 28 in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Building.
All seminars will be held every Wednesday except for Nov. 14. No seminar will be held that day. That's during the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting, which will take place Nov. 11-14 in Knoxville, Tenn.
The good news is that if you cannot attend these seminars, not to worry. Professor James R. Carey is arranging the videotaping of the seminars. They will be be broadcast at a later date on UCTV. Meanwhile, if you missed any of the previous ones, most can be accessed on UCTV.
Oct. 17: Tim Linksvayer, assistant professor, University of Pennsylvania.
Title: "Colony-Level Social Insect Gene Regulatory Networks"
Host: Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology
Oct. 24: Micky Eubanks, professor, Texas A&M University
Title: "Community Ecology of a "Pest": Aphids Rule their World via Powerful Indirect Effects"
Host: Graduate student Billy Kimmel
Oct. 31: Sarjeet Gill, professor, UC Riverside
Title: "Bacterial Toxins in Disease Mosquito Vector Control"
Host: Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology
Nov. 7: Taro Ohkawa, postdoctoral researcher, UC Berkeley
Title: "Baculovirus Manipulation of the Host Actin Cytoskeleton: Roles in Entry and Egress"
Host: George Kamita from the Bruce Hammock lab
Nov. 14: No seminar this week (Entomological Society of America's annual meeting)
Nov. 28: James Mallet, professor, Harvard University
Title: "Hybridization, Mimicry and the Origin of Species in Heliconius
Host: Gregory Lanzaro, professor, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
The first speaker, evolutionary biologist Tim Linksvayer, will focus on superorganisms. Honey bees are considered superorganisms.
"Despite these conspicuous superorganismal properties and the inherent hierarchical organization of life in insect societies (i.e. colony-level, organismal-level), most previous studies of the evolutionary genetic and molecular basis of social insect traits use the same reductionist approaches that have been developed for solitary organisms, where an individual’s traits are only influenced by its own genome. More realistically, in social organisms, an individual’s traits are the property of the genomes of all social group members. I will discuss ongoing integrative research studying how social interactions in ants and honey bees affect the expression and evolution of individual- and group-level traits."