A sure sign of approaching spring...
As the cold weather subsides, out come the overwintering queen bumble bees. They're gathering nectar and pollen, building their nests and laying eggs.
Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, found a young queen bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus) on campus yesterday.
The confused queen managed to fly into Briggs Hall, home of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
These particular bees, native to North America, are nicknamed "the orange-rumped bumble bees." They're basically your fuzzy-wuzzy, yellow-banded black bumble bees.
Last year UC Davis entomologist Robbin Thorp tended a nest of Bombus melanopygus on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility grounds at UC Davis. The story behind the story: an area resident was seeking a temporary location for the bumble bees, which were nesting in his birdhouse. Thorp obliged.
The photos below:
Kimsey's queen bumble bee (which rates a solid 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 for fuzzy-wuzziness) and a bumble bee ready to take flight from the birdhouse. The bumble-bee-in-the-birdhouse photo, taken Feb. 29, 2008, received an online presence when the North Carolina State University Museum asked to borrow it to illustrate some text.
All hail the humble bumble bee...ever beautiful and ever resourceful./o:p>
It's a wonderful gift.
Häagen-Dazs last December committed $125,000 to the UC Davis Department of Entomology to establish a bee friendly garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, and today, the winner of the design competition takes center stage.
The winner...drum roll, please...a team from Sausalito.
The four-member team created a series of interconnected gardens with such names as Honeycomb Hideout, Nectar Nook and Pollinator Patch to win the international competition, which drew 30 entries--one from as far away as
Landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki submitted an amazing design that will be brought to life this summer on a half-acre site on the Laidlaw facility grounds. (View the 21-page design on this page
.The key goals of the garden are to provide bees with a year-round food source, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.
It all started in February 2008 when Häagen-Dazs launched a national campaign to help the honey bees. They donated a total of $250,000 for honey bee research at UC Davis and Pennsylvania State University; launched an educational Web site, formed a scientific advisory committee, and created a new ice cream flavor, Vanilla Honey Bee.
And now comes the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. Or bee heaven.
“We’ll not only be providing a pollen and nectar source for the millions of bees on campus, but we will also be demonstrating the beauty and value of pollinator gardens,” said design competition coordinator Melissa “Missy” Borel, program manager for UC Davis’
“The winning design fits beautifully with the campus mission of education and outreach, and it will tremendously benefit our honeybees at Bee Biology,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. “The garden will be a campus destination.”
And it’s a close destination for the 50-some colonies at the Laidlaw facility and for neighboring bees, native pollinators and other beneficial insects.
Worker bees live only four to six weeks during their peak season. Now they won’t have far to travel to gather nectar, pollen and propolis in an environmentally friendly garden filled with some 40 different varieties of flowering plants.
Meanwhile, honey bee research to determine what's causing the declining bee population continues unabated.
Honey bees will never know the source of their gift, but the people who support them, care for their needs and admire them will.
It's a wonderful gift.
It promises to attract a large crowd.
The UC Davis Center for Population Biology is planning a Darwin Day on Monday, Feb. 23.
If it sounds like a belated birthday party, it is and it isn't.
Darwin Day, billed as "a global celebration of science and reason," is held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin, according to a specially set up Web site dedicated to him and his work.
The Davis celebration, free and open to the public, begins at 7 p.m., in the Varsity Theatre, 616 Second St., Davis.
The one-hour event will include two public lectures, a birthday cake, and insect and fossil exhibits.
The event is sponsored by the Center for Population Biology and also involves the Department of Entomology, the Department of Geology, the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the
“This is a great synergy between the Center for Population Biology, the Department of Entomology, the Department of Geology, the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the
Presenting the public lectures will be evolutionary ecologist Maureen Stanton, chair and professor, Department of Evolution and Ecology, and evolutionary biologist Jonathan Eisen, who maintains a lab in the the UC Davis Genome Center and holds appointments in the Departments of Medical Microbiology and Evolution and Ecology. He also writes a blog, The Tree of Life.
Eisen’s topic is “Evolutionary Biology is a Valuable and Practical Tool.” He elaborates: "Evolution is frequently interpreted as a science of the past. However, an evolutionary perspective is a powerful and irreplaceable tool in studying and understanding the world around us. I will give examples of how information on evolution plays critical roles in subjects ranging from drug and vaccine development, forensics, conservation biology, and human medicine.”
Graduate students in the Center for Population Biology graduate students organized the free lectures.
UC Davis entomology graduate students Andrea Lucky, Sara Diamond and James Harwood will show live insects from the Bohart Museum of Entomology. The museum houses seven million insect specimens, but also includes live ones, such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The Darwin Day event is one of more than 700 celebrations occurring globally--on or around Feb. 12.
Yes, and Briggs beckons.
"Midge madness" will occur from 12:10 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 25 in 122 Briggs Hall on the University of California, Davis, campus.
That's when Claudio Gratton of the Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin, Madison, will discuss "Midge Madness! Quantifying Linkages Between Lake and Land" during the eighth of 10 winter seminars sponsored by the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
You've probably heard of the billions of midges--small two-winged flies--that swarm periodically at Lake Myvatn, Iceland. An article published last March in Science Daily indicated that at their peak, "it is difficult to breathe without inhaling the bugs, which hatch and emerge from the lake in blizzard-like proportions. After their short adult life, their carcasses blanket the lake, and the dead flies confer so much nutrient on the surrounding landscape that the enhanced productivity can be measured by Earth-observing satellites."
Enter Claudio Gratton, who studies f "R
Enter Claudio Gratton, who studies food web ecology, insect-plant-virus interactions, herbivore-natural enemy interactions, invasive species, biological control, and soil food webs.
"Recent empirical and theoretical models," he says, "indicate that the dynamics within food webs are often influenced by resources coming from outside of the focal food web, also termed a 'spatial subsidy.' "
By the way, Lake Myvatn means "midge lake" in Icelandic.
"We used this lake and the surrounding landscape to examine the effect that large-scale spatial subsidies have on terrestrial arthropod food webs," said Gratton, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1997. "Our studies have shown that by moving from lake onto land, the midges act as two types of subsidies."
"First, they can transfer as much as 70 kg N and 10 kg P ha-1 yr-1 to a 100-200m wide area surrounding the lake, resulting in increased plant quality, biomass and increased detritivore and herbivore abundance."
"Second, they subsidize the food base of the natural enemies (mainly spiders) on the terrestrial shoreline. As a result, food web interactions on land are significantly affected by the adjacent lake ecosystem, effects that have the potential to propagate over the long-term, even after midge abundances subside."
Want to learn more about the mighty midges of Myvatn? Attend Gratton's presentation next Wednesday. UC Davis Department of Entomology hosts are Peter Epanchin of the Graduate Group in Ecology (he's in professor Sharon Lawler's lab), and professor and insect ecologist Jay Rosenheim./o:p>/st1:place>/st1:placename>/st1:placetype>/o:p>/o:p>/st1:place>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>
Entomology folks at UC Davis remember when Louie Yang was a doctoral candidate, studying population biology with major professor Rick Karban.
Yang received his doctorate in 2006 and then became a UC President's Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology at UC Santa Barbara.
Now he's back.
Yang joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology as an assistant professor on Jan. 2.
“Louie is one of our rising stars,” said Lynn Kimsey, chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. “His work on resource pulses has led to the creation of a new field of ecological study.”
“It’s great to be back,” Yang said. “UC Davis is truly one of the best places on the plant to study ecology, and it’s an honor to be a faculty member here. I’m looking forward to it immensely.”
Yang’s research interests include community ecology, species interactions, temporal variation, extreme events in nature, and the integration of ontogeny and phenology.
“My research program studies how resource pulses, disturbance events and the timing of species interactions affect ecological communities,” Yang said. “I describe myself as a community ecologist. Much of my research is aimed at understanding the temporal dimension of ecological communities: How do natural systems respond to changing conditions?”
His work emphasizes “the fundamental idea that ecological systems are constantly changing over multiple time scales.”
“I investigate community responses to ecological perturbations along a continuum of temporal scales, including extreme events as well as longer time-scale climate changes.”
Yang said a mechanistic understanding of how communities respond to changing conditions “is relevant to several conceptually and socially important issues in ecology.”
Yang’s lab and office are at 380 Briggs Hall.
His wife, Tabatha Yang, is the former children’s program manager at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Beginning this year, she is engaging in public outreach for two UC Davis museums, the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
We're all expecting great things of Louie Yang and Tabatha Yang.
Here's to 2009! And to great careers!