Honey bee scientist and noted author Mark Winston will speak on “Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive” at a special seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Friday, June 5 at 10 a.m. in 122 Briggs, Kleiber Hall Drive.
The title is also the title of his newest book, published by Harvard University Press. All interested persons are invited to attend.
“There are powerful lessons to be learned from bees about how we humans can better understand our place in nature, engage the people and events surrounding us with greater focus and clarity, interact more effectively in our relationships and communities, and open ourselves to a deeper understanding of who we are as individuals, communities and a species,” Winston said. “I'll talk about my experiences over 30 years of walking into apiaries, and the lessons learned from a life spent among the bees.”
Winston is a professor and senior fellow, Centre for Dialogue, Simon Fraser University, Harbour Centre, Vancouver, Canada, and is also a professor in the university's Department of Biological Sciences.
Winston is particularly known for his book, The Biology of the Honey Bee, on the bookshelves of almost every honey bee researcher and beekeeper, said Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, who will introduce him.
Winston is described as that rare individual, a scientist, who can speak eloquently to the public. "Recognized as one of the world's leading expert on bees and pollination, Mark has had an illustrious career researching, teaching, writing and commenting on bees and agriculture, environmental issues and science policy," his website says.
Winston received two degrees from Boston University: a bachelor of science degree in biology in 1971 and a master's degree in marine biology in 1975. He earned his doctorate in entomology from the University of Kansas in 1978.
We can all learn a lesson or two about bees, those amazing creatures often taken for granted.
Evolutionary ecologist Amy Toth of Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, will speak on "Molecular Evolution in Insect Societies: Insights from Genomics of Primitively Social Paper Wasps" at a seminar hosted Wednesday, May 13 by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Toth, an assistant professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Department of Entomology," will speak from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall.
"The evolution of highly cooperative, eusocial behavior from solitary ancestry represents one of the major transitions in the evolution of life," says Toth. "Thus, understanding the evolution of insect eusociality can provide important insights into the evolution of complexity. Recently, with the advent of the genomic era, there has been great interest in understanding the molecular underpinnings of social behavior and its evolution. Several hypotheses about how eusociality have been proposed; these ideas can be roughly divided into two camps—one proposes that eusociality involved new (novel, or rapidly evolving) genes, and the other, that old (deeply conserved) genes took on new functions via shifts in gene regulation."
In her seminar, Toth will provide an overview of recent research in her laboratory aiming to address the genomic basis of social evolution in insects, with a focus on gene expression. "Utilizing a comparative approach involving multiple species and lineages of bees and wasps, as well as de novo sequencing of genomes, transcriptomes, and epigenomes, our work aims to trace the types of genomic changes related to the evolutionary transition from solitary to eusocial behavior," she said.
Toth will present results from several lines of research mainly focused on primitively social Polistes paper wasps, that have led to the following insights:
- Relatively minor shifts in gene expression patterns may accompany earlier stages of social evolution
- Convergent evolution of social behavior in different lineages involves similar gene expression patterns in a small set of key pathways, and
- Epigenetic mechanisms such as DNA methylation are variable across species and evolutionarily labile.
"Although more data on additional solitary and social species, and on novel genes, are needed, the emerging picture is that earlier transitions from solitary to simple eusociality involved relatively small changes in gene expression and regulation," she said.
Toth said she is especially interested in the mechanisms and evolution of insect sociality, using paper wasps and honey bees as model systems.
Toth received her bachelor's degree in biology in 2006 from Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York and her doctorate in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2006 from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she was advised by major professor Gene Robinson. She did postdoctoral work with Christina Grozinger at Pennsylvania State University, where she was a USDA postdoctoral fellow. She focused on uncovering conserved molecular pathways for social insect reproduction and social behavior. Earlier she was a postdoctoral research associate with the Department of Entomology and Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois, where she studied with advisor Gene Robinson. Her work centered on genomic analyses of insect social behavior.
Plans call for recording her seminar for later posting on UCTV.
Who wouldn't like to have a lady beetle, aka ladybug?
Although they're commonly called "ladybugs," entomologists call them "lady beetles." That's because they're beetles, not bugs.
Nevertheless, who wouldn't like to have one?
The California Grange traditionally gives away lady beetles at the annual California Ag Day, held around the first day of spring on the west lawn of the state capitol. These beneficial insects gorge on aphids and other soft-bodied insects.
We took ours home and placed one on a Iceland poppy stem and another on a rose bush.
And then we photographed them as a sort of "proof of life." Out of the container and into the garden. Go get 'em, lady beetles!
Lady beetles belong to the family Coccinellidae, derived from the Latin word coccineus, which means "scarlet." However, not all lady beetles are red. Some are red, yellow, black, gray, or brown. Some have spots or stripes. Some have no markings at all.
They're sometimes confused with the spotted cucumber beetle, a yellowish green dome-shaped insect with black spots, but that one is a pest.
If you want your own lady beetles, you can usually buy them at a hardware store. Or on Saturday, April 18, you can stop by Briggs Hall during the annual UC Davis Picnic Day and receive free lady beetles from the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM). (You can also engage in maggot art, cockroach races, termite trails, honey tasting, and other fun activities that the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is planning.)
As for the lady beetles, we're promised more. Last week we received a special gift--a cluster of 24 eggs deposited on our passion flower vine (Passiflora).
The new UC California Cooperative Extension apiculturist, Elina Lastro Niño, has moved it to her website now that Eric Mussen has retired. Mussen, now Extension apiculturist emeritus, wrote the newsletter from 1976 to 2014 and loaded it on his UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website. The editions are now archived.
The new home? It's on the elninobeelab website.
It's available online for free, of course. The newsletter is published bimonthly: in February, April, June, August, October and December. Niño relates: "If you wish to have this newsletter sent directly to your email address, please follow the instructions below. Enter this URL into your browser: https://lists.ucdavis.edu/sympa/subscribe/ucdavisbeenews. When it opens, it should relate to subscribing to this newsletter. Enter your email address and then click submit. It is time to decide whether to continue your hard copy subscription. The mailed subscription rate is now $25 per year (six issues). If you'd still like to continue this subscription please send a check by April 10, 2015 payable to the UC Regents and mailed to Elina L. Niño at the address in the signature block. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. If the check is not received you will not receive the next issue of the newsletter as a hard copy. This, of course, does not apply to those who have already prepaid for a certain time period."
In the newest edition, published today, you'll learn about how to treat those nasty Varroa mites, known far and wide (except in Australia, which doesn't have them) as beekeepers' Public Enemy No. 1.
Niño writes about HopGuard® II, "basically an 'old' product developed by BetaTec Hop Products, Inc., but it has an improved delivery system."
You'll also learn
- what Niño said when she addressed the the Avocado Pollination Seminar series
- that EPA is registering a new insecticide, flupyradifuron
- about exciting upcoming events, including a bee symposium, open house, and queen-rearing workshops, and
- some great information about how honey bees collect nectar.
How honey bees collect nectar is her Kids' Corner feature. "Usually after about three weeks of life as a house bee, all healthy honey bees in a normal, healthy colony become foragers," she writes. "They start every morning by going out into the world looking for the best sources of sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen. Some of them even collect water. Now, I'm sure you've seen these friendly ladies just buzzing along visiting flowers in your back yard. By the way, just a reminder, forager bees will not attack unless they feel threatened so just make sure you don't bother them and you should be fine (and tell your friends too!). "
Niño goes on to explain the process, and points out, as Mussen emphasizes, that honey is "not actually bee vomit as it never goes through a digestion (breakdown) process in the digestive tract of a honey bee." (Mussen officially retired in June 2014 after 38-years of service, but he continues to maintain an office in Briggs Hall and assists wherever he can, including writing a few articles for the newsletter.)
Niño, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Sept. 1, 2014 from Pennsylvania State University—2600 miles away--is as busy as the proverbial worker bee.
“California is a good place to bee,” she told us recently. “I just wish I could have brought some of that Pennsylvania rain with me to help out California's drought."
Niño operates her field lab at Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, and at her lab in Briggs Hall, on the central campus. Her aims: to conduct practical, problem-solving research projects; to support the state's beekeepers through research, extension and outreach; and to address beekeeper and industry concerns.
The mission of her program is "to provide support to California beekeepers and other relevant stakeholders through research, extension and outreach." Niño studies honey bee biology, health, reproduction, pollination biology, insect ecology, evolution, genomics and chemical ecology.
He passed Jan. 22, 2015. A celebration of life will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 1, at the University Retirement Community at 1515 Shasta Drive, Davis.
Characterized as having a wonderful sense of humor, an always-ready smile and quick wit, Vern Burton was also an avid golfer. That's why a “Putt One for Vern” contest will be included in the reception festivities.
Vern was born in Omaha, Neb., on June 3, 1924, the only child of John and Vesta Burton. He spent his childhood in several states: Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois before his father, in the tire business, moved his family to Los Angeles in 1939.
In July 1943, young Vern was inducted into the U.S. Army and sent to Camp Adair, Ore., to a new wartime infantry division – the 70th Infantry “Trailblazer” Division. Burton would later say that his three years in the Army proved to be “a great educational experience and quite an adventure for someone just out of high school." He landed in Marseille, France on Dec. 15, “the day the Germans launched the Battle of the Bulge. “I went overseas as a squad leader (Battle of the Bulge) and came back as a platoon sergeant." He received his honorable discharge in April 1946.
It was while he was completing basic training in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, that he met his future wife, Charlotte McKnight. They were married for more than 66 years. The couple raised two daughters, who in turn gave them four granddaughters.
Young Vern earned a bachelor's degree in entomology from UC Berkeley and a master's from LSU. He retired from his entomological career in December 1988.
Back in the fall of 2009, we interviewed Vern Burton for a feature story. He was 85 then and residing in the University Retirement Community.
"Vern Burton didn't set out to become an entomologist.
"Home from the World War II battlefields, he enrolled in Compton Community College and then the University of California, Berkeley.
"A family friend promised him a job in his termite control business once he finished his studies.
"His college associates, however, couldn't envision 'Vern and termites' in the same sentence.
"Neither could he."
Burton told us during the interview: "There were better things to do in life than crawling under a house looking for termites."
So began a 38-year career that would encompass 10 years as a Kern County Farm Adviser and 28 years as an Extension entomologist affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. During his career, Burton worked with crops such as alfalfa, beans, cotton, potatoes, small grains and sugar beets and helped resolve pest problems through integrated pest management (IPM) strategies and close associations with university researchers.
Burton enjoyed working with researchers like noted alfalfa seed expert Oscar Bacon, now a retired professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “I'd help identity problems in the field and take them back to the researchers” he told us. "I always enjoyed helping people in ag and urban settings with their insect problems,” Burton said, “or their perceived problems.”
Tuber worms in potatoes? Check. Lygus bugs in seed alfalfa? Check. Spider mites on dry beans? Check. Nematodes in cotton? Check. Green peach aphids in sugar beets? Check. Burton helped recommend the guidelines in several of the Statewide IPM Program's commodity manuals. His collaborative research also appears in California Agriculture and other publications.
When Burton retired in December 1988, then Cong. Vic Fazio lauded him for his outstanding contributions to California agriculture, particularly in the field of IPM. In remarks entered into the congressional record on Jan 4, 1989, Fazio said that Burton “contributed greatly to California agriculture and to the University of California's mission for excellence in agricultural research, education and public service.”
“Mr. Burton's outstanding contributions include the development of innovative methods and strategies for nematode control in cotton, which have improved production while reducing pesticide use. He also aided in the development and establishment of treatment thresholds for green peach aphid on sugar beets and established and supervised the cotton pest management program in the San Joaquin Valley in the 1970s. That work resulted in the appropriation of permanent federal funds for an integrated pest management program.”
"Other successes included more effective and efficient control of lygus bugs and spider mites on dry beans, development of a successful pest management program on Burbank potatoes, and investigations on an aphid believed to be a serious insect pest on small grains. Mr. Burton helped prove that the aphid actually had no significant impact on grain yields and thereby insecticide use was markedly reduced.”
Fazio noted that over the years, Burton “has provided support and guidance to county programs conducted by Farm Advisors through field test pilot activities, recommendations, and suggestions for problem solutions, and printed information and participation in educational programs. He has also helped disseminate education and informative entomological information to a diverse clientele in agricultural and urban areas throughout the state.”
"Vern was dedicated to California growers, and worked tirelessly to provide new and useful information to them," IPM specialist Frank Zalom, professor of entomology at UC Davis, told us. "He understood the research-extension continuum better than most people ever could, having served the university as an extension entomologist in the county and also here on campus.”
Also active in entomological organizations, Burton served as president and secretary-treasurer of the Northern California Entomology Club and as secretary-treasurer of the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
Burton and his wife, a retired 20-year accountant with the UC Davis Viticulture and Enology Department, moved into the University Retirement Community, Davis, in 2004.
In his early retirement years, he served as a lieutenant governor in 1992-93 of Division 7, Kiwanis International; worked four years in the UC Davis Medical Center gift shop and helped with the Kiwanis Family House at the Med Center. He traveled with his family, played golf and fished.
A favorite activity since childhood was “to get up early and go fishing in the morning and fry it for breakfast the same day.”
Emeritus Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 1976 and retired in 2014, remembers Vern as a “dedicated scientist with a terrific sense of humor.” They shared office space with two other scientists on the third floor of Briggs Hall.
Vern claimed that bees would always single him out for special attention, Mussen said.
“Whenever I'd watch a honey bee demonstration in alfalfa and clover fields (which bees pollinate), honey bees would find me and deposit their stinger," Burton told us. "I'd stay out of the fields if they just moved in the honey bees.”
At age 85, Vern was enjoying retirement: spending time with his wife, reading mysteries, using his computer (“I used to be scared to death of computers and since my retirement, I've become friends with it”), playing computer card games (bridge, poker and hearts) and watching occasional sports on TV, especially professional golf and football (he played football in high school) and college baseball and basketball.
Burton was preceded in death by his wife, Charlotte Burton. He is survived by his daughters Maryn Mason (Bill) and Anice Isaacs (Bob); and granddaughters Kimberly Mason, Audra Anderson (Kory), Rebecca Mason, Ashley Nolan (Bowie).
In lieu of flowers, the family requests remembrances to the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, UC Davis, 1 Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616; the Kiwanis Family House, 2875 50th St., Sacramento, CA 95817; or The University Retirement Community Foundation, 1515 Shasta Drive, Davis, CA 95616.
Remembrances can be posted on the online guestbook at http://www.wiscombefuneral.com/