He pulls up a chair, mounts his Canon on his tripod, and adjusts the lens settings--and the trademark hat that shades his face.
His passion: insects. They cannot escape his quick eye and steady hands. Not the honey bee. Not the leafcutter bee. Not the bumble bee. And not the territorial male European wool carder bees that he has nicknamed “bonker bees” (for their behavior of dislodging other bees from the nectar-rich blossoms in order to save the food for their own species, perchance to mate with them.)
Allan Jones delights in not only capturing images of insects, but learning more about them, and sharing his finds with others.
And on Saturday, Sept. 22, he will display many of his images at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven open house, set from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event, free and family friendly (and the last open house of the year), will include a catch-and-release bee activity, and a sale of bee plants and solitary bee condos (drilled holes in blocks of wood for bee nests, accommodating leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees). Plus, visitors will receive recommendations on what to plant for the fall to attract pollinators.
Jones will exhibit images of male and female bees of the same species, including a male and female leafcutter bee, Megachile fidelis, on sneezeweed, Helenium autumnale.
Among his many other images: a leafcutting bee “flying a bit of Clarkia petal back as nest material” and a “honey bee vs. wasp image designed to help define and differentiate bees and wasps.”
An alumnus of UC Davis, Allan became an Aggie in 1961, receiving degrees in English and German in 1966, and his master's in English in 1972. He joined the doctoral program in 1973 "but I quit in 1974, making my summer job of inspecting tomatoes my career for 43 seasons (with California Department of Food and Agriculture for half of his career, and then working with CDFA on an independent advisory board). I did some workmanlike macro photography of tomato defects and wider shots of the inspection process for training. “
He spent the ‘70s in Dixon, and the ‘80s and ‘90s in Sacramento “before moving back to Davis after 2000.”
“Working tomatoes six to nine months a year allowed me to pursue art and later landscape photography along the American River,” Jones related. “During the winter of 1982. I tried to capture glimpses of the American River in every light as the historic wild braided river it once was. The scenes are painterly, echoing the Hudson River School. When I moved from Sacramento back to Davis I turned to the UC Davis Arboretum, picking up macro shots to enhance a PowerPoint program I made for the Sacramento State Renaissance Society."
Jones is keenly drawn to the behavior of insects. “My intent with insects and bees is the capture their behaviors in context, that is, together with the flowers they pollinate,” Jones says. “I often use layers in PhotoShop to get the flower as well as the insect in focus. For me the co-evolution of bees and flowers requires them both to share the stage. I aim for a tiny diorama from an illustrator's perspective.”
His camera gear? “I am between Canon platforms. I have an older Canon 6D with a Sigma 180 macro and am moving to a Canon, Mark 2 EOS 1DX, with a new 100-400 telephoto lens using a 20 mm extension tube for macro--my new favorite. First I shoot the bee at least once then take multiple shots of the flower(s) for effective layering.”
Jones is a volunteer photographer for both the haven and the UC Davis Arboretum. He works closely with native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, who identifies and/or confirms his identifications. Thorp, who maintains an office in the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, co-authored Bumble Bees of California: An Identification Guide (2014, Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (2014, Heyday Books).
The haven, installed in the fall of 2009 and located at the end of Bee Biology Road, is open from dawn to dusk. It is directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Christine Casey, the haven's academic program manager, says many difficult-to-find pollinator plants will be on sale. (See the plant list.)
As we near the end of celebrating National Pollinator Week, June 16-22, look around and see all the insects foraging on reddish-orange flowers. And occasionally, you might see a reddish-orange insect like the showy Gulf Fritillary butterfly.
Orange, a color commonly associated with autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving, is also a color that brightens many of our seasons and draws attention to special occasions, including Pollinator Week.
The reddish-orange Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) spreads its wings on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). A honey bee (Apis mellifera) and a sunflower bee (Melissodes agilis) forage on a blanket flower (Gallardia). Another bee, the leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, and a green bottle fly take a liking to a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).
Pollinators come in all sizes, shapes, colors and species, from bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles, to flies.
Many folks throughout the country observe National Pollinator Week once a year, but some organizations, such as the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, protect our pollinators and promote pollinator conservation every day.
On their website:
"Pollinators are essential to our environment. The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85 percent of the world's flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world's crop species. The United States alone grows more than one hundred crops that either need or benefit from pollinators, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year in the U.S. Beyond agriculture, pollinators are keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately 25 percent of all birds, and of mammals ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears. In many places, the essential service of pollination is at risk from habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced disease."
Indeed, pollinators pack a punch.
Rachael Long, Yolo County farm advisor and director of the Yolo County Cooperative Extension program, has lined up a group of outstanding speakers at her Pollination Workshop on Friday, Oct. 11.
Open to the public (no registration required), the event will take place from 8:30 to noon in Norton Hall, 70 Cottonwood St., Woodland.
You'll hear how hedgerows enhance biodiversity and provide crop benefits in agricultural landscapes, how insecticides reduce honey bee visitation and pollen germination in hybrid onion seed production, and why multiple stresses are hard on honey bees. Assisting her in coordinating the workshop is Katharina Ullmann, graduate student in the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Those are just a few of the topics.
8:30 to 8:35
Introductions and Updates
Rachael Long, Farm Advisor/County Director, UCCE Yolo County
8:35 to 8:55
"Hedgerows Enhance Biodiversity and Provide Crop Benefits in Agricultural Landscapes"
8:55 to 9:20
"Sustainable Pollination Strategies for Specialty Crops"
Neal Williams, associate professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
9:20 to 9:40
"Insecticides Reduce Honeybee Visitation and Pollen Germination in Hybrid Onion Seed Production"
Sandra Gillespie, postdoctoral researcher in Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
9:45 to 10:10
"Best Management Practices for Squash and Pumpkin Pollination"
Katharina Ullmann, graduate student in Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
10:10 to 10:20
10:20 to 10:45
"Native Bee Nesting in Agricultural Landscapes: Implications for Sunflower Pollination"
Hillary Sardinas, graduate student, UC Berkeley's Environmental Sciences and Policy Management
10:45 to 11:10
"Restoring Pollinator Communities and Services in California Central Valley"
Claire Kremen, professor, UC Berkeley's Environmental Sciences and Policy Management.
11:10 to 11:35
"Maintaining Honey Bee Hives for Hive Health"
Billy Synk, manager and staff research associate, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis
11:35 to Noon
"Multiple Stresses are Hard on Honey Bees"
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
For more information, contact Rachael Long at (530) 666-8734 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note that one of the speakers, Sandra Gillespie, will be presenting a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar next Wednesday, Oct. 16 on “Parasites and Pesticides: Indirect Effects on Pollination Service.” It will take place from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall. It will be videotaped for later viewing on UCTV.
It's a native bee.
It's a pollinator.
And it's a leafcutter.
This morning we admired this female leafcutter bee, Megachile fidelis, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis.
It was foraging on a Mexican sunflower in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre pollinator garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora), from the Asteracae or sunflower family, blazed like a fiery torch, its stamens screaming yellow and its petals ignited in a orange-red flame that only Mother Nature can create.
While the Tithonia glowed--no wonder it's a favorite of gardeners--the leafcutter bee kept piling on the pollen.
If you look at the second photo, you'll see "the brush of hairs on the underside of her abdomen where she is packing pollen for the trip back to her nest," as Thorp points out.
Indeed, the bee may be nesting in the haven itself. Thorp provides them with little bee condos, blocks of wood drilled with holes.
Within a few weeks, UC Davis graduate student/teaching assistant Sarah Dalrymple will finish installing art-decorated bee condos crafted in an entomology class linked with the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.
Build them and they will come.