Like all insects, it has a head, thorax and abdomen. But are you familiar with the rest of its anatomy?
Here's an opportunity to learn about "Advanced Anatomy and Physiology of the Honey Bee" in a class offered Saturday, Oct. 19 by the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP).
The daylong course, to be conducted by CAMBP director and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will take place at the Harry Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
This course covers the scientific "hands-on" portion of the journey level of the CAMBP. "We will offer the attendees an opportunity to familiarize themselves with dissecting tools and microscopy, examine specimens under the microscope and perform dissections," Niño said. "Participants will explore in detail the anatomy and physiology of the honey bee.
This course ends at 4:30 but usually folks linger until 5 to ask questions or share experiences. The $200 registration fee includes the continental breakfast, snacks, and a catered lunch. Click here to register.
The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. The Master Beekeepers serve as knowledgeable ambassadors who disseminate science-based information about the importance of honey bees, preserving bee health and responsible beekeeping.
"We've just completed our apprentice exams for this year!" said Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMBP. "In 2019 we have 26 new CAMBP apprentices in San Diego, 34 in Davis, and we are welcoming our first 22 journey level members!"
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty and director of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB) teaches classes with her lab associates throughout much of the year.
Participants agree that the classes are "the bees' knees," a phrase which means they're excellent, of the highest quality.
One of the most recent classes, "Planning Ahead for Your First Hives," drew the maximum of 23 participants at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
The group spent a Saturday learning all about honey bees via lectures and hands-on activities.They learned bee biology, components of the hive, where to place the hive, and how to plan for their first hive--all under the tutelage and watchful eyes of the two Niños: Elina Lastro Niño and husband/beekeeper Bernardo Niño, who is the CAMPB educational program supervisor and a staff research assistant in the E. L. Niño lab.
Then the participants donned bee veils and stepped outside to the apiary to learn hive inspection basics. They returned to the classroom for lunch and a Powerpoint presentation on "Keeping Bees Year-Around."
Highlights included opening a hive and engaging in queen wrangling, hands-on activities (holding a frame and identifying the queen, worker bees and drones), and varroa mite monitoring. The participants also examined several different types of the hives in the apiary, including the traditional Langstroth hive, Kenya top bar hive or horizontal top bar-hive, Warré hive and a flow hive. The short course ended with a session on "Save us from the hive intruders!" and a question-and-answer period.
The next day CAMPB hosted another short course, this one on "Working Your Colonies." Participants learned what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures covered advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. The group also learned about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.
Both courses drew maximum enrollment. "The classes were excellent," commented Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMPB. "We received really great feedback and the participants were thrilled to get the in-hive experience. And we got to sample some melipona honey (from stingless bees) from the Yucatán, as one of our participants had recently returned from a trip there."
The participants "now have some science-based knowledge and skills about honey bees and beekeeping that they can confidently share," Mather said. CAMPB uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping.
Next Class: Varroa Mite Management Strategies
The next beekeeping class? "Varroa Mite Management Strategies" from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 13 at the Laidlaw facility. Participants will learn how to monitor, mitigate and manage the pests.
"Current beekeeping challenges call for all beekeepers to have a solid understanding of varroa mite biology and management approaches," said Elina Lastro Niño, in describing the course. "We will dive deeper into understanding varroa biology and will devote majority of the time to discussing pros and cons of various means to monitor, mitigate, and manage this crucial honey bee pest."
Niño, who serves as the state's Extension apiculturst, is known for her expertise on honey bee queen biology, chemical ecology, and genomics. She holds a doctorate in entomology from Pennsylvania State University (PSU), where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Christina Grozinger, director of the PSU Center for Pollinator Research.
The course, limited to 20 participants, will cover varroa biology, treatment options and chemical-free options. Participants are to bring their bee veil or suit. The $200 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. The last day to register is Monday, Oct. 7. Click here to register.
The eight-legged varroa mite (Varroa destructor) is an external parasite that attacks and feeds on honey bees. The female is reddish brown, while the male is white. They measure 1–1.8 mm long and 1.5–2 mm wide. Originating in Asia, varroa mites are now found throughout most of the world. Scientists first detected the pest in the United States in 1987.
No, not yet?
You can enroll in classes at the University of California, Davis, to learn how to keep bees and how to work your colonies.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will be teaching beekeeping classes with her colleagues. beginning Saturday, March 23.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about--and practice--many aspects of what's necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving, Niño said. At the end of the course, participants will be knowledgeable about installing honey bee packages, monitoring their own colonies. and possibly challenges with maintaining a healthy colony.
Lecture modules will cover honey bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to start your colony, and maladies of the hive.
Practical modules will cover how to build a hive, how to install a package, inspecting your hive and monitoring for varroa mites.
The course is limited to 25 participants. Participants should bring their bee suit/veil if they have one. The $95 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch and refreshments. The last day to register is Friday, March 22.
Working Your Colonies
A separate course on "Working Your Colonies" will take place on Sunday, March 24. This is an all-day course from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. The last day to register is Friday, March 22.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about--and practice--many aspects of what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony and exploit products of the hive.
Lecture modules will cover advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management (IPM) and products of the hive. Practical models will cover queen wrangling, honey extraction and splitting/combining colonies, and monitoring for varroa mite
The $150 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. Participants should bring their bee suit/veil if they have one.
Just as pesticides, parasites, predators, and a multitude of microorganisms threaten the survival of honey bees, so do hobby beekeepers who are rearing too many colonies for bees to “survive and thrive.”
“Increasing populations of bees can easily ‘overgraze' the resources," says Gary, 85, whose expertise in beekeeping, including professor, scientist, author and professional bee wrangler, spans seven decades. "Excessive competition for limited nectar and pollen sources also threatens hundreds of native bee species, such as bumble bees, that have similar dietary requirements.”
He acknowledges that his chapter on Urban Entomology, “treads on sacred beekeeping ground by proposing a radical change to beekeeping in urban environments.”
But it's time “to recognize the realities of the urban environment and make appropriate changes in beekeeping practices,” he declares.
Gary, a Sacramento-area resident known internationally as “The Bee Man” says that urban environments vary greatly, from the heart of New York City or San Francisco where small residential lots typically have limited vegetation to smaller urban areas that that often have “open countryside within the foraging area of your bees.”
“This is far more than typical hobby beekeepers are harvesting these days,” Gary relates. “It should be obvious that hobby beekeepers are keeping too many colonies in the typical urban environment.”
“Hobby beekeepers typically start out with one or two hives, but that often leads to several more due to their enthusiasm for keeping bees and harvesting more honey and equating the number of hives with elevating their status as beekeepers.”
In his book, published by Fox Chapel Publishing, East Petersburg, Pa., Gary shares his beekeeping knowledge, dispels many beekeeping myths, and provides science-based information. He covers such subjects as “To Beekeep or Not to Beekeep,” “The Bees' Home,” “Reproduction,” “Colony Defense and Sting Prevention” and activities inside and outside the hive.
Gary, who holds a doctorate in entomology from Cornell University, joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1962, retiring in 1994 after a 32-year academic career. He has authored more than 100 publications, including scientific papers, book chapters and popular articles in beekeeping trade journals.
A 70-year beekeeper--one of the longest in the nation--Gary began keeping bees at age 15 in Florida. His career includes hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist, entomology professor, author, bee wrangler and Guinness World record holder.
During his professional bee wrangler career spanning four decades, “The Bee Man” served as a consultant and bee stunt coordinator for 17 movies, 70 TV shows and six TV commercials. Among his credits: “Fried Green Tomatoes” and appearances with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno on Tonight Shows.
Gary once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with artificial nectar. His holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt. He's also the person behind the "bee suit" record in the Guinness World Records; Gary clustered more than 87 pounds of bees on a friend.
Today, as a musician, he plays the clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, and flute with several groups, and is updating his website, http://www.normangary.com.
No more “Buzzin' with His Bee-Flat Clarinet,” though./span>
These are the plants they established in a garden on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
"The overall aim of our study was to identify California native plants, and more generally plant traits, suitable for coordinated habitat management of arthropod pollinators, herbivores, and natural enemies and promote integrated ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes," they wrote. "More specifically we ask (a) which native plants among our candidate set attract the highest abundances of wild bees, honeybees, herbivores, predators, and parasitic wasps, (b) if the total abundances of arthropods within these functional groups across plant species are related to the peak flowering week, floral area, or flower type of the focal plant species, and (c) if the total abundances of arthropods within these functional groups are correlated to each other across plant species." (See the results of their research.)
How did they select the plants? "Selected species were forbs that were drought-tolerant, native to California (one exception), and as a group, covered a range of flowering periods throughout the season," they wrote. The one exception: Fagopyrum esculentum, or "domestic buckwheat." Although it's a non-native, it was introduced elsewhere but naturalized in the wild.
Their selections were also based on several other factors:
- indications that they could be attractive to bees based on being listed as nectar and pollen plants for honeybees (Vansell, 1941)
- being recommended as pollinator plants (Xerces Society, 2018)
- being listed as associated with bees in Calflora (2017) or based on earlier collected data on bee attractiveness (Williams et al., 2015).
A further criterion that restricted selection was that "plant material needed for propagation be commercially available either as seeds or plug plants." The exception: Antirrhinum cornutum, commonly known as spurred snapdragon, for which seed was hand-collected.
They excluded plants that are major weeds of crops or pastures. They did note, however, that Amsinckia intermedia (Eastwood's fiddleneck) and Calandrinia menziesii (red maids) can be desirable components of wildlands, but become minor weeds in certain situations (UC IPM, 2018).
And now for the 43 plants, as listed in their chart. We alphabetized them and linked them to the Calflora.org site so you can see images of the plants and the common names. Calflora is a self-described nonprofit organization "where you can learn about plants that grow wild in California (both native plants and weeds)."
- Achillea millefolium, common yarrow
- Amsinckia intermedia, Eastwood's fiddleneck
- Antirrhinum cornutum, spurred snapdragon
- Asclepias eriocarpa, Indian milkweed
- Asclepias fascicularis, narrow leaf milkweed
- Calandrinia menziesii, red maids
- Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia, beach evening-primrose
- Clarkia purpurea, purple clarkia
- Clarkia unguiculata, Woodland clarkia
- Clarkia williamsonii, Fort Miller clarkia
- Collinsia heterophylla, Purple Chinese houses
- Eriophyllum lanatum, common woolly sunflower
- Eschscholzia californica, California poppy
- Fagopyrum esculentum, domestic buckwheat (non-native, introduced elsewhere but naturalized in the wild)
- Lasthenia fremontii, Fremont's goldfields
- Lasthenia glabrata, yellow-rayed goldfields
- Limnanthes alba, white meadowfoam
- Lupinus microcarpus var. densiflorus, chick lupine
- Lupinus succulentus, Arroyo lupine
- Monardella villosa, coyote mint
- Nemophila maculata, five spot
- Nemophila menziesii, baby blue eyes
- Phacelia californica, rock phacelia
- Phacelia campanularia ,desert bells
- Phacelia ciliata, Great valley phacelia
- Phacelia tanacetifolia, tansy leafed phacelia
- Salvia columbariae, chia sage
- Scrophularia californica, California bee plant
- Sphaeralcea ambigua, desert mallow
- Trifolium fucatum, bull clover
- Trifolium gracilentum, pin point clover
- Eriogonum fasciculatum, California buckwheat
- Gilia capitata, blue field gilia
- Grindelia camporum, gum plant or gumweed
- Helianthus annuus, hairy leaved sunflower
- Lupinus formosus, Western lupine
- Malacothrix saxatilis, cliff aster
- Oenothera elata, evening primrose
- Helianthus bolande, Bolander's sunflower
- Helianthus californicus, California sunflower
- Madia elegans,common madia
- Trichostema lanceolatum, vinegarweed
- Heterotheca grandiflora, telegraph weed
When you're thinking of what native California plants to establish in your pollinator garden, this is a great list, thanks to the Williams lab and their collaborators.
And, if you want to learn more about their research, contact lead author Ola Lundin, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Williams lab and now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala. He can be reached at Ola.Lundin@slu.se.