It's the work of Washington State University's Honey Bee Research Program, College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences (WSU CAHNRS), and accessible free online on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/380776410.
The 28-minute video, two years in the making, is aimed at helping beekeepers improve their stock and overcome some of the obstacles they may face in their breeding efforts.
The UC Davis connection is strong. The video chronicles the work of "the father of honey bee genetics," Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., of the University of California, Davis, for whom the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is named. The husband-wife scientific team, Susan Cobey and Timothy Lawrence, both formerly of UC Davis and now of WSU, are executive producers and are featured in the video, as is noted bee scientist Steve Sheppard, director of the WSU Center for Reproductive Biology and former chair of the WSU Department of Entomology. The trio, also the authors, describe the Page-Laidlaw Population Breeding Program, one of the most successful bee breeding program and named for Laidlaw and Robert E. Page Jr., now a distinguished emeritus professor at UC Davis and emeritus provost, Arizona State University.
The video is "a guideline, that bees respond to selection but they need to be aware of some of the pitfalls that can hamper progress," said Lawrence, county director of WSU Extension for Island County. He's been working with bees since 1963 and landed his first commercial beekeeping job in 1969.
Sheppard says in the introductory remarks: "Honey bees are fascinating animals to work with and essential to pollination of our food supply. Currently faced with many challenges, one of our most important tools for long-term sustainability and improved honey bee health is a program of selection for stock that is hearty, productive, winters well, and has a reduced susceptibility to pests and pathogens."
Sheppard, Cobey and Lawrence know their bees. Between them, their bee experience encompasses some 150 years. Cobey, a bee breeder-geneticist who began working with bees in 1976, studied with Laidlaw, and later managed the Laidlaw facility. She is recognized as a global expert on instrumental insemination. Sheppard, who specializes in genetics and evolution of honey bees, and insect introductions and mechanisms of genetic differentiation, began working with bees while a graduate student at the University of Georgia.
In the video, Sheppard points out that "beekeepers recognize the need for more rigorous programs to select, improve and maintain their breeding stocks. The varroa mite and the movement of Africanized honey bees adds to this urgency. The principles discussed here serve as a guide to develop and establish a successful and practical breeding program with a focus on the traits you choose to enhance is your breeding population."
- Maintain a diverse population to provide the basis for selection
- A proficiency in queen and drone rearing
- Establish a selection index of desired traits
- Careful record-keeping
- Control of pests and diseases, and
- A method of controlled mating.
"The honey bee colony is a superorganism and this complicates the selection process," says Cobey, who breeds Carniolan bees. "Keeping your breeding program simple is key. Genetic diversity within the colony as well as within the population increases honey bee fitness. Several mechanisms contribute to this diversity:
- The high mating frequency of the queen.
- Semen storage--after mating only about 10 percent of the semen collected migrates to the spermatheca, although this represents each drone she has mated with."
- The high rate of recombination. a queen can mate with up to 60 drones, though typically mates with 15 to 20 drones. This mating behavior seems risky and inefficient, though is very successful in creating a genetically diverse superorganism, the colony."
"The many subfamilies of worker bees represented by the different drones mated, subfamilies specialize in different traits," Cobey says, "which together contribute to colony fitness."
She relates that "beekeepers and bee researchers have been selecting the honey bee for many years--some of the earliest attempts included attempting to mate bees in a confined enclosure or by hand .discoveries in the queens anatomy and physiology led to the first break through in controlled mating of honey bees with instrumental insemination.we owe a lot to some of the early pioneers in bee breeding like Laidlaw, (Lloyd) Watson, (Otto) Mackensen, (William) Roberts and many others."
Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding Program
Noting that the Page-Laidlaw Closed Population Breeding Program "is one of the most successful practical breeding systems used, Cobey explains "the system basically is how most beekeepers approach selection--choose the best and propagate from these. The key component is an annual selection program supported with controlled mating and record keeping. Beekeepers rely on natural selection pressure to increase desirable traits in the population. The goal of the closed population breeding program is to increase the selection pressure and the frequency of desirable traits in the breeding population. Given the behavioral complexity of honey bees, this can be a challenging process. To be successful and give the program, longevity, it must be simple and repeatable."
The video drew nearly 1,000 views the first week. The first comment: "Great video! ....where can i buy that bee hat that Susan is wearing? Thanks so much!"
Cobey does have some nice hats!
So said a little boy working on his maggot art project last Sunday afternoon, July 9, at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis.
The occasion: a special open house with special presenters, members of North American Forensic Entomology Association (NAFEA). The forensic entomologists are on the UC Davis campus through July 12 for their annual conference. Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is a past president of the group.
Neel Fulde, 7, of Davis, arrived at the Bohart Museum with his mother, Shama Mesiwala, who watched him expertly use forceps to grab a maggot and dip it into non-toxic, water-based paint and release it on the "canvas"--white paper. Neel guided it around on what he termed his "obstacle-course" drawing.
His maggot, however, crawled too slow and he asked NAFEA member Royce Cumming of Salinas Valley for a "faster maggot."
Cumming said the maggot Fulde wanted was "taking a bath."
"In just a minute," Cumming said, and then handed Neel his forceps with "the faster" maggot attached.
Olivia Storms, 6, of Davis, arrived with her father, David Storms, and she, too, was eager to engage in maggot art. Cumming asked her: "Is the maggot the artist, or is it you, Olivia?" "Both," she said.
Forensic entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student of Kimsey's, coined the educational teaching curriculum, "Maggot Art," back in 2001 when she was studying at the University of Hawaii. She was rearing blowflies for her forensic research and wanted an activity to draw the interest of elementary school students. She also wanted to generate interest and respect for forensic entomology.
Maggot art is a traditional and popular activity at the annual campus UC Davis Picnic Day. The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology conducts the event at Briggs Hall and will do so again at next year's Picnic Day: April 21.
Meanwhile, the Bohart Museum is gearing up for its next two summer open houses (free and open to the public and no reservations required):
Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California, from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them.
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
For more information contact the Bohart Museum at (530) 752-0493 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is installing mosaic ceramic panels on cement planters at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis central campus.
Diane Ullman and Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and their associate, professional mosaic ceramic artist Mark Rivera of Davis, began installing the work, titled “Life in the Hive,” on Thursday, May 30.
The newest addition joins two other mosaic ceramic-paneled plants. One showcases honey bees and bee friendly gardening, and the other focuses on plants and alternative pollinators, such as butterflies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, blue orchard bees, and metallic green sweat bees.
Students in the Entomology 1 class, taught by Diane Ullman, associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and professor of entomology, and self-described “rock artist” Donna Billick, created the panels on all three of the once-barren cement planters.
The latest addition, “Life in the Hive,” is the work of the spring-quarter Entomology 1 class. The students will gather in the haven on Saturday, June 1, to complete the installation. They will then discuss their work at a special event from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 4 in the haven.
“Life in the Hive,” lettered with “Honey Bee Haven” and “Häagen Dazs,” depicts the life cycle of the worker bee, queen bee, and drone. It also features a waggle dance, the queen bee and her retinue, and a newly emerged queen bee stinging and killing a competing queen ready to emerge from a cell. The art also depicts nurse bees, undertakers and foragers.
Another panel shows a “before” and “after” person: "before" when he was deathly frightened of bees, and "after," when he developed an appreciation for them.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 1997, helps students reach across disciplines to learn science through art, and art through science, Ullman said. Each course focuses on key areas of biology, physics or environmental science and expressive art media, including ceramics, graphics, textiles, photography, poetry and music.
The haven is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and is designed to (1) raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and (2) to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it is located just a few yards from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. For guided tours (nominal fee involved), the contact person is Christine Casey at email@example.com.
You'll not only see honey bees in a bee observation hive, but specimens of bumble bees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees, long-horned bees, squash bees, plasterer bees, mining bees, leafcutter bees, wool carder bees and sweat bees.
The exhibit is in the Southard Floriculture Building on the May Fair grounds, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Participating are the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; and the newly formed UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton, owner of BD Ranch and Apiary and a volunteer at the Laidlaw facility for several years, is providing the bee observation hive, a glassed-in box that enables viewers to observe the activity that goes on inside a bee hive.
Fishback, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and member of the California State Beekeepers' Association, is an educator as well as a beekeeper. He speaks about bees at schools, organizations and festivals. His daughter, Emily, 2, accompanies him on many of his talks.
“Emily loves bees,” said Fishback, who keeps 125 hives on his property in Wilton. She knows that a bee has six legs, four wings and five eyes, and that each bee has three body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. She knows that a honey bee eats pollen and nectar, pollinates flowers and makes honey.”
UC Davis graduate students, including squash bee expert Katharina Ullmann and area beekeepers (among them Jesse Loren of Winters and Lindsay Weaver of Sacramento) will be available during part of the fair (weekend) to share their experiences with fairgoers.
Children attending the Dixon May Fair on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12 can make a "Honey Bee on a Stick," an arts and crafts project that doubles as a hand-held fan and puppet. Executive director Amina Harris of the Honey and Pollination Center, an area beekeeper and a former school teacher, will help the children create the take-home art. The free activity is from from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Southard Floriculture Building. Harris crafts the bee art using a yellow paper plate, duct tape, googly eyes, a stick, and pipe cleaners (for antennae).
The Dixon May Fair's floriculture building, staffed by superintendent Kathy Hicks of Dixon, includes stunning garden displays and a myriad of plants and cut flowers. It is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha hales), a native of Asia, was first discovered in the United States in Allentown, Penn., in 2000.
Since then, it's been making a big stink. Literally. It's a major agricultural threat that feeds on vegetables and fruit, says UC Davis associate entomologist/chemical entomologist Jeffrey Aldrich. USDA has estimated $21 billion worth of crops are at risk. This includes apples, peaches, tomatoes, grapes, cotton, corn, green peppers, soybeans and other crops.
Aldrich also calls it a "pervasive residential nuisance." It may select your home as its wintering site, creating an infestation. That prompted The New York Times to declare "Move Over Bedbugs: Stink Bugs Have Landed."
Aldrich will discuss the insect's invasion and its semiochemistry at the UC Davis Department of Entomology seminar on Wednesday, May 1, from 12:05 to 1 p.m. in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Addition, corner of Hutchison and Kleiber Hall drives. Professor Frank Zalom and Ph.D candidate Kelly Hamby of the Zalom lab are the hosts.
Aldrich will describe the history of the discovery; its subsequent spread across the country; and also detail the discovery of the bug's chemical communication system and ongoing pheromone commercialization efforts. He then will present results of laboratory experiments using native egg parasitoids exposed to the stink bug eggs.
An expert on BMSB, Aldrich established that the insect in the U.S. is cross-attracted to the pheromone of a congeneric species; he facilitated commercialization of this cross-attractant lure; and he led the team that identified the pheromone of the BMSB. The research is potentially useful in systems to mass trap and/or attract-and-kill BMSB.
Aldrich's 40-year career on insect chemical ecology has taken him to Brazil, Australia, Japan and Italy. He served as a research entomologist for the U.S. Department of Agricultural Research Service, Beltsville, MD, from 1980 to 2011, including five years as a laboratory research leader (1999-2004).
His work has been published in such journals as Science, Journal of Chemical Ecology, Chemoecology, and Environmental Entomology. He also travels around the nation and world, presenting lectures at technical organizations, universities, government agencies, and to lay groups.
A member of the Entomological Society of America since 1972, Aldrich is a past president of both the International Society of Chemical Ecology and the Entomological Society of Washington, D.C., and was appointed associate editor of the Journal of Chemical Ecology in 2009.
The New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Discovery, U.S. News and World Report, and Organic Gardener have interviewed him about his work. In addition, he's been interviewed by a number of radio and TV stations in the United States and Brazil.
The May 1 seminar should be a real eye-opener about a major agricultural pest that continues to invade the United States. If you miss the seminar, plans call for video-recording the seminar for later posting on UCTV Seminars website.