Page studies with major professor and pollination ecologist Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Her work suggests that honey bees reduce pollen and nectar availability in flowers, leading to competitive displacement of native bees.
"Competitive displacement of native bees may in turn decrease plant pollination because native bees are often more effective than native bees as pollinators," Page says. "My research suggests that such changes are already occurring for Camassia quamash (small camas) following honey bee introductions in the Sierra Nevada."
Page is scheduled to receive her doctorate in entomology in June 2022 and then begin a postdoctoral fellowship with assistant professor Scott McArt at Cornell University, where she will investigate patterns of interspecific pathogen transmission and how more sustainable beekeeping practices might mitigate the negative effects of competition. McArt recently delivered a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on "Pesticide Risk to Pollinators: What We Know and What We Need to Know Better."
In July 2019, Page collaborated with colleagues at Cornell and the University of Minnesota to present a workshop on the intersections of science and social justice, aiming to make science more open and accessible.
Page holds a master's degree in entomology (2019) from UC Davis and a bachelor's degree in biology (2016), cum laude, from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif.
Highly recognized for her work, Page received a three-year $115,000 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense. She was one of 69 recipients out of more than 3600 applicants. She earlier won a campuswide 2016-17 Graduate Scholars Fellowship of $25,200; a Vansell Scholarship in both 2018 and 2019; and Davis Society Botanical grants in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A 2018 Duffey-Dingle Research Fellowship also helped fund her research (optimizing pollinator plant mixes to simultaneously support wild and managed bees).
Active in the Entomological Society of America and the Ecological Society of America, Page scored a second-place award for her project, "Optimizing Wildflower Plant Mixes to Support Wild and Managed Bees" in a 2021 student competition hosted by the Entomological Society of America. She also presented “Impacts of Honey Bee Introductions on the Pollination of a Sierra Wildflower" at the August 2020 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, and "Can Visitation and Pollen Transport Patterns Predict Plant Pollination?" at the April 2019 meeting of the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
A strong supporter of community outreach and STEM, Page has been active in leadership activities in the summer program, Girls Outdoor Adventure and Leadership (GOALS) since August 2017. The free program targets underrepresented teens. Page has served as a program co-organizer, mentor and lecturer. She helped organize the 2021 summer program, led a lecture on introductory data analysis, and assisted students with their community science project (identifying pollinators in urban gardens).
Page was also active in Center for Land-Based Learning, serving as a mentor in the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship. She mentored high school students, engaging them in hands-on conservation science at Say Hay Farm in Yolo County, and teaching them about how wildflower plantings benefit bees.
Page and postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of Williams lab co-authored the November 2021 cover story, A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and other Floral Visitors, in the American Journal of Botany
The open-to-the-public competition involved searching for the first-of-the-year bumble bee in the two-county area of Yolo or Solano; photographing it; and emailing the image to the Bohart Museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first bumble bee to emerge in this area is usually the black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, but another bumble bee, the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii,is out early as well.
Both are considered "spring bees" because that is when their population is the highest, according to Thorp. Then their numbers "tail" the rest of the year.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart and a UC Davis distinguished professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology, announced Saturday that "we have the winners."
Not one winner, but two. No one species, but two.
Coincidentally, they each took their photos at exactly 2:30 p.m., Jan. 1 in the 100-acre UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden as the bees foraged on manzanita.
And fittingly, they both knew and worked with Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), a global authority on bees and a UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology.
The event also marked the second consecutive year that a member of the Williams lab won. Last year postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of the Williams lab and the lab of Elina Lastro Niño, claimed the prize by photographing a B. melanopygus at 3:10 p.m., Jan. 14 in a manzanita patch in the Arboretum.
As the 2022 winners, Page and Zagory will each receive a coffee cup designed with the endangered Franklin's bumble bee, a bee that Thorp closely monitored in its small range at the California-Oregon border. The cup features the image of the bee specimen, photographed by Bohart scientist Brennen Dyer, and designed by UC Davis doctoral alumnus Fran Keller, professor at Folsom Lake College.
The television program, Good Day Sacramento, featured the contest on Jan. 3. (See it here.)
Worldwide Collection. The Bohart Museum houses a worldwide collection of 8 million insect specimens, including 112 species of bumble bees, Kimsey said. Thorp spend much of his time at the Bohart where he identified bees and helped colleagues with their research.
Thorp, a 30-year member of the UC Davis faculty, retired in 1994 but continued his work on bees until his death at age 85 at his home in Davis. Known as a tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation, he co-authored two books in 2014: Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday).
Said Zagory: “I indeed knew Robbin Thorp, one of the most generous and kind people I have ever met. Dr. Thorp invited me to do a page for their book (California Bees And Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists) about the UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars (pages 230 -232) and he edited a publication we created at the UC Davis Arboretum called Ten Bees and Ten Plants they Love that can be downloaded from the website at https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/pollinator-gardening.
Page is a 2018 alumnus of The Bee Course, which Thorp co-taught from 2002-2018. The nine-day intensive workshop, geared for conservation biologists and pollination ecologists and considered the world's premiere native bee biology and taxonomic course, takes place annually in Portal, Ariz. at the Southwestern Research Station, part of the American Museum of Natural History, N.Y. (The 2021 winner--Charlie Casey Nicholson--is a 2015 alumnus of The Bee Course.)
Page said she was “also lucky enough to participate in a "Bumble Bee Blitz" organized by Thorp and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in July 2016 on Mt. Ashland, where we searched for Bombus franklini and Bombus occidentalis-- two very rare West Coast bee species. We unfortunately did not find Bombus franklini, which is now recognized as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.”
Brilliant Scientist. “Robbin was a brilliant scientist and a dedicated advocate for bumble bee conservation,” Page said. “His death was a great loss and I wish more of my career could have overlapped with his time in Davis.”
As a doctoral candidate in entomology, Page researches and investigates “whether European honey bees compete with native bees for floral resources and how we can use well-planned floral enhancements to mitigate negative effects of competition."
How rare is it find Bombus vosnesenskii on Jan. 1?
In an email today, UC Davis doctoral alumnus and Thorp protégé Kim Chacon, said she has seen B. vosnesenskii near San Luis Obispo since Dec 26. She is a lecturer at California Polytechnic University (Cal Poly). "I think it is a very opportunistic species. In my research, that was one of the first emergers, the 6th genus actually. Robbin Thorp had an interesting theory about bumble bees dealing with a virus or other illness which was shifting the dominant species to vosnesenskii. I'm so happy both Ellen and Maureen won-- they are both awesome!"
"My congratulations, too," said bumble bee enthusiast/photographer Allan Jones of Davis, a friend of Thorp's. "I did not even go out considering the chilly weather. I expected it to be on the second day when we got up into the sixties, and with the ground so damp and cold, too. Hats off, brrrr."
Both bumble bee species have also been sighted and photographed in recent years on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 in Benicia, Solano County.
The scene: A honeybee (Apis mellifera) and a bumblebee (Bombus vosnesenskii) nectaring on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in a UC Davis bee garden.
If you've observed honeybees and wild bees foraging in your garden, you've probably wanted to compare them. Is the honey bee the most effective pollinator?
Newly published UC Davis research in the American Journal of Botany yields some surprising results.
Honeybees are effective pollinators, but when compared to other pollinators, including wild bees, they are rarely the most effective plant pollinators, according to a meta-analysis project led by doctoral candidate Maureen Page and postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of the Neal Williams laboratory, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Page and Nicholson are the co-leading authors of "A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and other Floral Visitors," the cover story of the current edition of the journal, published Nov. 30.
“Although high visitation frequencies make honeybees important pollinators, they were rarely the most effective pollinators of plants and were less effective than the average bee,” said Page. “This suggests that honeybees may be imperfect substitutes for the loss of wild pollinators and ensuring pollination will benefit from conservation of non-honeybee taxa. In the future, we hope other researchers will use the data we have collected to further investigate the factors that influence pollination effectiveness.
Page and Nicholson originated the idea for the project during a graduate seminar led by UC Davis professor and community ecologist Louie Yang in the winter of 2020. While the COVID-19 pandemic shut down or postponed many other research projects, Page and Nicholson forged ahead and organized fellow graduate students and postdoctoral students to collectively read and extract single visit-effectiveness data from more than 468 papers. The two then analyzed the data from a subset of these papers (168) to ask whether honeybees and other floral visitors differed in their single visit pollination effectiveness.
The researchers conducted a hierarchical meta-analysis of 168 studies and extracted 1564 single visit effectiveness (SVE) measures for 240 plant species. “We paired SVE data with visitation frequency data for 69 of these studies,” they wrote. “We used these data to ask three questions: (1) Do honeybees (Apis mellifera) and other floral visitors differ in their SVE? (2) To what extent do plant and pollinator attributes predict differences in SVE between honeybees and other visitors? (3) Is there a correlation between visitation frequency and SVE?”
They compared honeybees to multiple pollinator groups, including ants, bees, beetles, birds, butterflies, flies, moths, and wasps.
"Surprisingly, honeybees were less effective than other bees as pollinators of crop plants, suggesting that the importance of honeybees as crop pollinators derives largely from their numerical abundance rather than the quality of their floral visits," Page said.
“Honeybees were significantly less effective than the most effective non-honeybee pollinators but were as effective as the average pollinator," they wrote in their results section of the paper. "The type of pollinator moderated these effects. Honeybees were less effective compared to the most effective and average bird and bee pollinators but were as effective as other taxa. Visitation frequency and SVE were positively correlated, but this trend was largely driven by data from communities where honeybees were absent.”
Also contributing to the project were Ross Brennan, Anna Britzman, Jessica Greer, Jeremy Hemberger, Hanna Kahl, Uta Müller, Youhong Peng, Nick Rosenberger, Clara Stuligross, Li Wang, and Professors Louie Yang and Neal Williams.
Cover Photo. The cover photo, by Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, shows several species of bees on a sunflower, Helianthus sp. They include a honeybee (Apis mellifera), sunflower bee (Svastra obliqua), and two sweat bees (Halictus tripartitus and Halictus ligatus), as identified by Professor Williams, a pollinator ecologist.
"Honeybees are as effective as the average pollinator, but rarely the most effective pollinators of plants," according to the caption. "Surprisingly, honeybees are less effective than other bees as pollinators of cultivated plants, suggesting the importance of honeybees as agricultural pollinators derives largely from their numerical abundance. Their study confirms a widely held belief that honeybees are not the best pollinators of plants globally and substantiates the growing concern that honeybees may be imperfect substitutes for the loss of wild pollinators."
Charlie Nicholson. Nicholson, a researcher in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology labs of both Professor Neal Williams, and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology (evolution, ecology and behavior), 2010, cum laude, from Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York. He received his doctorate in natural resources in 2018 from the University of Vermont, where he was a Gund Institute for Environment graduate fellow. In his dissertation, he examined how landscape and farm management affect the multiple benefits provided by wild bees.
Nicholson joined UC Davis as a postdoctoral scholar in the spring of 2019, and receives funding support from the USDA Invasive Species and Pollinator Health Unit. He recently co-authored a paper, “Natural Hazard Threats to Pollinators and Pollination,” published in the journal Global Change Biology, that analyzed 117 published research papers on natural hazards that threaten pollinators and pollination.
Maureen Page. Page received her bachelor's degree in biology, cum laude, from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif., in 2016, and then enrolled in the UC Davis entomology graduate program, with a career goal of becoming a professor and principal investigator. In 2018, she received prestigious three-year fellowship, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, for her research proposal, “Promoting Food Security by Optimizing Wildflower Plantings to Support Wild and Managed Bees." Long interested in bee research, Page received a 2013 Scripps Environmental Research Grant to establish a solitary bee monitoring program at the Bernard Field Station in Claremont. She created a reference collection and species list of bee diversity at the field station, gaining experience collecting, pinning and identifying bee specimens. She presented her findings at the Scripps Undergraduate Research Symposium. Page later worked on a project categorizing pollen deposition by the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii to California figwort, Scrophularia california.
That's the beginning of the abstract of her research presentation, "Fungicide Impacts on Bumble Bees Are Mediated via Effects on Bee-Associated Fungi," that she delivered Nov. 1 in the mile-high city of Denver at the Entomological Society of America's annual meeting.
Rutkowski, a member of the lab of community ecologist Rachel Vannette, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and co-advised by community ecologist and professor Rick Karban, was participating in the 10-minute graduate student speech competition.
How did she do? She excelled! Rutkowski won first place, "The President's Prize," in her category, Plant-Insect Ecosytems, Ecology 3.
That's quite an achievement and well-deserved.
The remainder of her abstract: "Using two species, Bombus vosnesenskii and B. impatiens, we test the interactive effect of the fungicide propiconazole and fungal supplementation on the survival, reproduction, and microbiome composition of microcolonies (queenless colonies). We found that both bee species benefitted from fungi, but were differentially affected by fungicides. In B. vosnesenskii, fungicide exposure decreased survival while fungal supplementation mitigated fungicide effects. For B. impatiens, fungicide application had no effect, but fungal supplementation improved survival and offspring production. Fungicides altered fungal microbiome composition in both species, and reduced fungal abundance in B. vosnesenskii microcolonies, but not in B. impatiens, where instead fungal addition actually decreased fungal abundance. Our results highlight species-specific differences in both response to fungicides and the nature of fungal associations with bees, and caution the use of results obtained using one species to predict the responses of other species. These results suggest that fungicides can alter bee- fungi interactions with consequences for bee survival and reproduction, and suggest that exploring the mechanisms of such interactions, including interactions within bee-associated fungal communities, may offer insights into bumble bee biology and bumble bee conservation strategies." (Paper co-authored with Rachel Vannette, Eliza Litsey and Isabelle Maalouf)
Two other outstanding UC Davis doctoral students scored second place in their respective categories in the highly competitive events:
- Maureen Page, with the lab of pollinator ecologist Neal Williams, professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, presented "Optimizing Pollinator-friendly Plant Mixes to Simultaneously Support Wild and Managed Bees." She competed in the category, Plant-Insect Ecosystems: Pollinators. (Hannah McKenzie of Ohio State University won first place, The President's Prize.)
- Kyle Lewald, with the College of Biological Sciences and the Integrated Genomics and Genetics Graduate Group, but a member of the lab of molecular geneticist and physiologist Joanna Chiu, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, competed in the category, Systems, Evolution and Biodiversity: Genetics and Molecular Biology. He titled his presentation: "Assembly of Highly Continguous Diploid Genome for the Agricultural Pest, Tuta absoluta." (Amanda Markee of the University of Florida took home first place, The President's Prize.)
At the ESA's annual meetings, students are offered the opportunity to present their research and win prizes. There are several components, ESA says, to the competition: 10-minute papers (oral), posters, and infographics. First-place winners receive a one-year free membership in ESA, a $75 cash prize, and a certificate. Second-winners score a one-year free membership in ESA and a certificate.
The 7000-member organization, founded in 1889 and headquartered in Annapolis, Md.,, is the world's largest organization serving the professional and scientific needs of entomologists and others in related disciplines. Its members are in educational institutions, health agencies, private industry, and government. The 2021 ESA president is Michelle Smith of Corteva Agriscience.
That's the topic that doctoral candidate and pollination ecologist Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will explore when she addresses the Davis Botanical Society meeting, “How I Spent My Field Season” on Thursday Nov. 14.
The event takes place from 5 to 6 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Page, of the Entomology Graduate Group, and fellow speaker Emily Brodie of the Ecology Graduate Group, are recipients of Davis Botanical Society grants. Brodie, seeking her master's degree, will speak on “Patterns of Post-Fire Diversity and Regeneration in Subalpine Forests of California."
The wildflower that Page studies is a perennial herb, native to Western America. It's commonly called camas, small camas, or quamash.
In her abstract, Page writes: "While many bee species are declining, managed species, such as honey bees, have been introduced into novel ecosystems across the globe. Many studies support the claim that introduced honey bees compete with native bees. However, less is known about how honey bee introductions will affect native plant populations. Increased pressure from beekeepers to place hives in National Parks and Forests combined with the potentially huge but poorly understood impacts that non-native honey bees have on native plant populations makes exploring impacts of honey bee introductions on native plant pollination of pressing concern.”
The impact of honey bee introductions on the pollination and reproduction of the Sierra wildflower? “A preliminary data analysis suggests that honey bee introductions lead to increased visitation by honey bees and decreased visitation by native bees," Page says. "Preliminary results also suggest that honey bees are ineffective pollinators of Camassia quamash and the replacement of native bee visits by honey bee visits leads to reduced seed set. This research demonstrates that species introductions can have negative effects on plant pollination when they lead to an over-representation of visits by ineffective pollinators."
Page focuses her research on pollination ecology and bee conservation in natural and agricultural landscapes. As part of her dissertation research, she studies the impacts of honey bee introductions on plant-pollinator interactions and the pollination of native plants. She is also working to optimize wildflower plantings to simultaneously enhance honey bee nutrition and maximize support of diverse bee communities while minimizing competition between native and managed pollinators.
Last year Page received a prestigious three-year fellowship, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, for her research proposal, “Promoting Food Security by Optimizing Wildflower Plantings to Support Wild and Managed Bees.” This highly competitive fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense, drew more than 3600 applicants. Maureen was one of 69 awardees.
The Nov. 14th event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Teri Barry or Jennifer Poore at the UC Davis Center for Plant Diversity (530) 752-1091 or email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.