In the year 2020, COVID chased us out of our work places and out of our fun places.
So we dutifully covered our faces to cover all the bases, washed our hands to meet all the demands, and kept our distance to continue our existence.
But wait...we did NOT socially distance from the insects.
The bees buzzed, the butterflies fluttered, and the praying mantids did what they do best--ambush their prey (much to some folks' dismay).
But let us not stray....
They say that Santa Claus this year looks like...um...The Grinch.
Does Santa look like The Grinch? Maybe, in a pinch. But on Christmas Eve we always scan the horizon for that familiar sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer--and led by No. 9, a beaming reindeer with a red nose. (But they've never been willing to pose.)
COVID may have chased us out of our work places and out of our fun places, but don't let The Grinch steal Christmas. It's not his to steal. Let us heal.
Merry Christmas! And stay safe!
Feeling the buzz on Christmas Day?
Bugs on your Christmas tree? You may have overlooked another "present": eggs of the invasive spotted landernfly may be on your tree.
Bot flies on reindeer? What you need to know about these flies! (Poor Rudolph! Is his red nose in jeopardy?)
Fleas Navidad? Alex Wild, UC Davis alumnus and curator of entomology, University of Austin, Texas, likes to observe "Fleas Navidad," a take-off of "Feliz Navidad." Follow him on Twitter to see what's buzzworthy. (He deleted his popular Facebook account.)
If you're lucky, you're enjoying an insect-themed Christmas, thanks to the Bohart Museum of Entomology (see list of Bohart gifts on Bug Squad blog); the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) (see blog on t-shirts) or the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center (honey, Honey Flavor Wheels, note cards and classes).
If Santa forgot to bring you some insect-themed gifts, not to worry. The Bohart Museum, EGSA and the Honey and Pollination Center offer items year-around. And if there's a beekeeper in your family or a beekeeper-to-be, keep your eyes out for spring classes offered by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño. Her website is https://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Meanwhile, Niño is teaching a track on "Beekeeping and Management" on Sunday, Feb. 10 as part of the UC Davis School of Medicine's Winter Conference hosted by the Center for Continuing Education. Her topics include "Honey Bee Biology and Apiculture Overview"; "Common Issues in American Apiaries" and "Honey Bee Bacterial Diseases and Antibiotic Use." (See Bug Squad blog)
It's time to say:
Merry Buzzworthy Christmas!
Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as "red pollen."
Like people, pollen comes in many colors and all are beautiful. All.
The floral source determines the color of the pollen. Just as nectar is a carbohydrate source, pollen is a protein source. Honey bees need both to rear the brood.
One of my favorite bee images is a photo I took in my backyard of a honey bee sipping nectar from lavender. "What's that red stuff on her?" non-bee folks ask.
Pollen. Red pollen.
Bee folks question its origin. It's from the nearby rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora). This honey bee, after gathering protein from the rock purslane, buzzed over to the lavender for some carbo loading. A little fuel for her flight back to the hive.
Bees gather red pollen from many floral sources, including not only rock purslane--a succulent--but horse chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis), pear (Pyrus communis), and henbit (Lamium amplexicaule).
When I see red pollen, I think of the beauty of a delicate flower transferred over to a hard-working bee. I don't think of the color's negative connotations: red tape, red-eye flight, red herring, and caught red-handed.
"Red pollen" is "Christmas red" or "holiday red."
Merry Christmas! Happy holidays! And the best of the new year!