One of the ways is through the 4-H Youth Development Program. Who can join 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands and which follows the motto, "making the best better?" It's open to all youths ages 5 to 19. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking, according to Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H representative. They develop leadership skills, engage in public speaking, and share what they've learned with other through presentations.
At the recent Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, held at Sierra K-8 School, Vacaville, 4-H'ers presented demonstrations, educational displays, illustrated talks, an improv, and an interpretative reading.
The interpretative reading was about bees.
Kailey Mauldin, 15, a sixth-year 4-H'er and member of the Elmira 4-H Club, Vacaville, delivered an award-winning presentation on Sue Monk Kidd's New York Times' bestseller, The Secret Life of Bees. Kailey read and interpreted passages, and answered questions from evaluators JoAnn Brown, April George and Kelli Mummert.
Kailey related that the story is set in a fictitious rural town in South Carolina in 1964 during the civil rights era. Fourteen-year-old Lily Owens "has just run away from her abusive father named T-Ray," Kailey recounted. "Her mother passed away at an early age." In going though her mother's belongings, Lilly finds an address that leads her to a farm where she meets three sisters, May, June and August, strong African-American women who run a beekeeping business.
Kailey read several passages about Lily's first experience with bees. The book is in Lily's voice.
August, opening a hive, tells Lily: “Egg laying is the main thing, Lily. She's the mother of every bee in the hive, and they all depend on her to keep it going. I don't care what their job is—they know the queen is their mother. She's the mother of thousands.”
The way the bees poured out, rushing up all of a sudden in spirals of chaos and noise caused me to jump.
“Don't move an inch,” said August. “Remember what I told you. Don't be scared.”
A bee flew straight at my forehead, collided with the net, and bumped against my skin.
“She's giving you a little warning,” August said. “When they bump your forehead, they're saying I've got my eye on you, so you be careful. Send them love and everything will be fine."
I love you, I love you, I said in my head. I LOVE YOU. I tried to say it 32 different ways...
Eventually, Lily experiences "a frenzy of love" as the bees seem to say: "Look who's here, it's Lily. She is so weary and lost. Come on, bee sisters."
Interpreting the passages she'd just read, Kailey said: "I learned all bees have mothers and that love isn't who or what, it is now...The way they took her (Lily) in, that was love. Love is everywhere."
Kailey isn't enrolled in a 4-H beekeeping project--yet.
(Editor's Note: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño offers beekeeping classes at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. See website.)
The award, administered by the UC Davis Emeriti Association, honors outstanding scholarship work or service performed since retirement by a UC Davis emeritus.
Distinguished professor emerita M. R. C. Greenwood, chair of the UC Davis Emeriti Association Awards and Recognition Committee, described him as a “pioneer researcher in the field of behavioral genetics, an internationally recognized scholar, a talented and innovative administrator, and a skilled teacher responsible for mentoring many of today's top bee scientists.”
Page's work on bee behavior “has set the standard nationally and internationally,” Greenwood said, adding “and many people in this room will know how important that research is to health and well being of our bees today.”
Page retired from UC Davis in 2004 after serving as chair of the Entomology Department (now the Department of Entomology and Nematology). “Then he was recruited to be the founding director of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University,” she said. “Today Dr. Page continues to work on how reproductive regulatory networks are altered by natural selection for division of labor in honor bees. As the 2019 UC Davis Distinguished Emeritus Professor, he does our university proud.”
Page received a $1000 check, and a plaque is forthcoming. He will deliver a presentation on his research at the November UC Davis Brainfood Talk.
In accepting the award, Page called it “a great and distinct honor.”
“I have multiple attachments to UC Davis,” he said. “I was a graduate student here (doctorate in entomology in 1980) and my wife was an undergraduate who graduated from here.”
Page said he met and recognized many people at the emeriti luncheon. “I've walked around and my Damaged Facial Recognition Software was just kind of spinning around,” he quipped. “But at any rate, a number of you I definitely remember and recognize and some of you, I almost remember and recognize.”
UC Davis Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter welcomed the crowd. Chancellor Gary S. May chronicled some of the UC Davis national and international achievements, and thanked the academic retirees for “your dedicated service. And I wish you luck navigating this new chapter in your lives. So go boldly and Go Ags!” (UC Davis' strategic plan, “To Boldly Go,” outlines the aspirations and methods for guiding the university to new heights of distinction over the next 10 years.)
Greenwood announced the recipients of the 2019 Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship Awards, memorializing the former UC Regent. They are Caroline Chantry and Anthony Philipps, both emeriti professors in the Department of Pediatrics, UC Davis School of Medicine. Chantry received the award for her ongoing project, “Strengthening Babies Through Mobile Health,” while Philipps is pursuing “Pediatric Heart Disease Training in Haiti.”
“Unfortunately, neither of our rewardees—since they are extremely busy in their retirement doing research—are able to be here today,” Greenwood told the crowd.
In his nomination letter, Steve Nadler, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, wrote that “Robert Page is arguably the most influential honey bee biologist of the past 30 years,”
Born and reared in Bakersfield, Kern County, Rob received his bachelor's degree in entomology, with a minor in chemistry, from San Jose State University in 1976. After receiving his doctorate from UC Davis in 1980, he served as assistant professor at The Ohio State University before joining the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1989 as an associate professor. He began working closely with Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., (the father of honey bee genetics) for whom the university's bee facility is named. Together they published many significant research papers.
Page chaired the Department of Entomology from 1999 to 2004, when Arizona State University recruited him to be the founding director of the School of Life Sciences of Arizona State University (ASU). His ASU career advanced to dean of Life Sciences; vice provost and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences; and university provost.
Page is known for his research on honey bee behavior and population genetics, particularly the evolution of complex social behavior. One of his most salient contributions to science was to construct the first genomic map of the honey bee, which sparked a variety of pioneering contributions not only to insect biology but to genetics at large.
At UC Davis, he maintained a honey bee-breeding program for 24 years, from 1989 to 2015, managed by bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. They discovered a link between social behavior and maternal traits in bees. Their work was featured in a cover story in the journal Nature. In all, Nature featured his work on four covers from work mostly done at UC Davis.
Page and his lab pioneered the use of modern techniques to study the genetic basis of social behavior evolution in honey bees and other social insects. He was the first to employ molecular markers to study polyandry and patterns of sperm use in honey bees. He provided the first quantitative demonstration of low genetic relatedness in a highly eusocial species.
His work has garnered a significant impact in the scientific community through his research on the evolutionary genetics and social behavior of honey bees. He was the first to demonstrate that a significant amount of observed behavioral variation among honey bee workers is due to genotypic variation. In the 1990s, he and his students and colleagues isolated, characterized and validated the complementary sex determination gene of the honey bee; considered the most important paper yet published about the genetics of Hymenoptera. The journal Cell featured their work on its cover. In subsequent studies, he and his team published further research into the regulation of honey bee foraging, defensive and alarm behavior.
Page has authored than 250 research papers, including five books: among them “The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution,” published by Harvard University Press in 2013. He is a highly cited author on such topics as Africanized bees, genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination, and division of labor in insect societies. His resume shows more than 18,000 citations.
Highly honored by his peers, Page is a fellow of a number of organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the California Academy of Sciences, the Entomological Society of America, and organizations in Germany and Brazil. He received the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, known at the Humboldt Prize, the highest honor given by the German government to foreign scientists. He most recently received the Thomas and Nina Leigh Distinguished Alumni Award from UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Bumble bees foraging on almond blossoms.
Make that the yellow-faced bumble bees, Bombus vosnesenskii, in Benicia.
Sunday morning as the temperatures soared to 62 degrees in the Matthew Turner Park, Benicia, near the Carquinez Straits, bumble bees competed with honey bees for a share of the golden nectar on the blossoming almond trees.
We witnessed near collisions as lumbering bumble bees lugged incredibly heavy loads while their more streamlined cousins, the honey bees, darted, ducked and dipped to avoid them. Definitely a need for air traffic controllers!
"Bumble bee, bumble bee, cleared for take-off."
"Honey bee, honey bee, stand by."
"Bumble bee, bumble bee, permission to land."
"Honey bee, honey bee, exit runway."
"Bumble bee, bumble bee, line up and wait."
"Honey bee, honey bee, cleared for take-off."
What a sight to see and what a beauty of a day to see bumble bees in Benicia.
The event, free, family friendly and educational, is always held on Presidents' Day weekend. It's billed as a time "to meet and talk with UC Davis scientists from undergraduate students to staff to emeritus professors and see amazing objects and organisms from the world around us."
The times will be staggered. Some collections will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and others, from noon to 4 p.m. Here's a list of what you can see, with links to their websites:
Room 1124 and hallway of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane
Greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
340 Equine Lane, off Old Davis Road
Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven (Noon to 4 p.m.)
Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road (take West Hutchison Drive to Hopkins (take West Hutchison Drive to Hopkins)
Marine Invertebrate Collection (not linked) (Noon to 4 p.m.)
Sciences Laboratory Building, off Kleiber Hall Drive
Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Room 1394, Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lame
Nematode Collection (Noon to 4 p.m.)
Paleontology Collection (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Earth and Physical Sciences Building, 434 LaRue Road
Phaff Yeast Culture Collection (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
Viticulture Enology Culture Collection (9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, 392 Old Davis Road, on campus
Want a peek at what happened last year? See the YouTube video, the work of UC Davis student Alexander Fisher-Wagner.
There will be plenty of attractions for youngsters, including the insect petting zoo at the Bohart Museum; dinosaur bones at the Paleontology Collection; carnivorous plants at the Conservatory; Vegemite and Kombucha (to eat!) at the Yeast Collection; demonstrations of eagles and hawks and other birds at the Raptor Center; prehistoric tool demonstrations (flint knapping, atlatl throwing) at tje Anthropology Collection; leaf rubbing and olive wreath crown making at the Arboretum; insect vacuum for observation at the Bee Haven, and pine cone petting zoo at the Herbarium.
Yes, you can pet stick insects at the Bohart Museum and pet pine cones at the Herbarium.
Meanwhile, you can find more information on the Biodiversity Museum Day website. (More information is pending)/span>
No, it's not Valentine's Day, yet.
Yes, the almonds are blooming.
No, it's not spring.
But it looks like spring in Benicia.
The almonds are blooming in the Benicia (Calif.) State Recreation Area.
Some are on the road at the entrance to the park.
Other trees are also blooming.
Benicia resident Gordon Hough, always on the lookout for those early blooms and elusive bees, photographed a honey bee nectaring on a Bradford pear blossom (as identified by Daniel Potter, UC Davis professor of plant sciences) in the Benicia park on Monday, Jan. 21. Gorgeous image!
Benicia (or Bee-nicia?) is graced with early almond blooms. We remember heading over to the Benicia State Recreation Area on the first day of 2014 and seeing almonds in bloom. Actually, several almond trees in the parking lot were blooming on Christmas Day of 2013. (See Bug Squad)
Meanwhile, California's commercial almond pollination season usually begins around Feb. 14.
Our state has more than a million acres of almonds in production, according to Kyle Kapustka of the Almond Board of California.
The 2017 California Almond Acreage Report, from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), released April 25, 2018, estimated
- 1,330,000 total almond acres in California
- 1,000,000 bearing acres in California
The 1.3 million acres is up 7 percent from the 2016 acreage of 1,240,000, according to the report. "Nonpareil continued to be the leading variety, followed by Monterey, Butte, Carmel and Padre. Kern, Fresno, Stanislaus, Merced and Madera were the leading counties. These five counties had 73 percent of the total bearing acreage." (See overview of the almond industry on the Almond Board of California website)
Solano County, home of seven cities, including Bee-nicia, isn't one of them.
But don't tell that to the bees.