Yes, hummingbirds are pollinators, too!
A capacity crowd of 250 will attend the fourth International Pollinator Conference, to be hosted by the University of California, Davis, from Wednesday, July 17 through Saturday, July 20 in the ARC Ballroom.
A welcoming reception took place from 6:30 to 8 tonight (Wednesday) in the Good Life Garden at the Robert Mondavi Institute, 392 Old Davis Road.
Themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” the conference will cover a wide range of topics in pollinator research: from genomics to ecology and their application to land use and management; to breeding of managed bees; and to monitoring of global pollinator populations.
Co-chairs are pollination ecologist Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, is coordinating the conference. Events manager Elizabeth Luu serves as the conference coordinator.
Keynote speakers are Lynn Dicks, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, England, and Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, (the research center launched the pollinator conferences in 2012).
Dicks will speak at 9 a.m., Thursday, July 18 on "The Importance of People in Pollinator Conservation" while Grozinger will address the crowd at 9 a.m., Friday, July 19 on "Bee Nutritional Ecology: From Genes to Landscapes."
Dicks, an internationally respected scientist, studies bee ecology and conservation. She received the 2017 John Spedan Lewis Medal for contributions to insect conservation. Grozinger studies health and social behavior in bees and is developing comprehensive approaches to improving pollinator health and reduce declines.
Among the speakers is Rachel Vannette, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who will discuss her hummingbird research.
Wednesday, July 17
- 6:30 to 8 p.m.: Early Registration and welcome reception in the Good Life Garden at the Robert Mondavi Institute, 392 Old Davis Road, Davis.
Thursday, July 18
6:45 to 8:30 a.m., breakfast at Segundo Dining Commons
8:45 a.m. Opening remarks and welcome
9 a.m. Keynote Address: "The Importance of People in Pollinator Conservation" by Lynn Dicks, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK
10 a.m. Session 1: Novel Quantitative Methods in Pollinator Ecology & Management
- "The Role of Bee and Non-Bee Pollinators in Australian Open and Protected Cropping Systems (How do we overcome the pollination challenges?)" - Romina Rader, University of New England, Australia
- "Implementing a Honeybee Foraging Model and REDAPOLL Fruit Set Predictions in Washington State's Decision Aid System" - Vince Jones, Washington State University
- "Using DNA metabarcoding techniques to improve plant-pollinator interaction networks" - Victoria Reynolds, University of Queensland, Australia
- "Citizen Science Data for Mapping Bumblebee Populations" - Claudio Gratton, University of Wisconsin
11:15 to 11:30: Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "From Theory to Practice: The Bumble-BEEHAVE Model and its Application to Enhance Pollinator Friendly Land Management" - Matthias Becher, University of Exeter, UK
- "A Laboratory System to Study the Effects of Stressors on Honey Bee Health and Fecundity" - Julia Fine, USDA-ARS Davis, Calif.
- "Using Automated Tracking to Link Individual Behavior to Colony Performance in Bumble Bees" - James Crall, Harvard University
Lunch at Segundo Dining Commons (opens from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.)
1:45 p.m. Session 2: Drivers of Host-Pathogen Interactions
- "DWV as a Driver of Host Bee Decline" - Robert Paxton, Martin-Luther University, Germany
- "Novel Transmission Routes and Intensification as Drivers of Disease Emergence and Virulence in Honey Bee viruses" - Mike Boots, UC Berkeley
- "Viral Transmission in Honey Bees and Native Bees Supported by a Global BQCV Phylogeny" - Elizabeth Murray, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
3 to 3:15: Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "Drivers of Pathogen Distributions in Feral and Managed Honey Bees" - Panuwan Chantawannakul, Chiang Mai University, Thailand
- "Serratia marcescens, a Pathobiont of Honey Bees?" - Kasie Raymann, University of North Carolina Greensboro
- "Foreign Fungi in Native Bees across the Commonwealth of Virginia" - Kathryn LeCroy, University of Virginia
- "Traits as Drivers of Plant-Pollinator-Pathogen Networks" - Quinn McFrederick, UC Riverside and Scott McArt, Cornell University
4:30 p.m.: Poster Session 1 in the ARC Ballroom
- 6:30 to 8 p.m. Opening Reception
Robert Mondavi Institute Sensory Building, 392 Old Davis Road, Davis
Honey Tasting led by Amina Harris, director, Honey and Pollination Center
Friday, July 19
6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., Breakfast at Segundo Dining Commons
9 a.m. Keynote: "Bee Nutritional Ecology: From Genes to Landscapes," by Christina Grozinger, Penn State University
10 a.m. Session Three: Variable Climates and Changing Pollinators
- "Bee Responses to Climate Change: from Micro- to Macroecology" - Jessica Forrest, University of Ottawa, Canada
- "A Climate Vise of Temperature Extremes May Explain Past and Predict Future Bumble Bee Range Shifts" - Michael Dillon, University of Wyoming
- "Climate Change Effects on Megachilidae Bee Species along an Elevation Gradient" - Lindsie McCabe, Northern Arizona University
10:15 to 11:05: Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "Testing the Phenological Mismatch Hypothesis for a Plant-Pollinator Iinteraction" - Charlotte de Keyzer, University of Toronto, Canada
- "Phenological Mismatch between Bees and Flowers Early in the Spring and Late in the Summer" - Gaku Kudo, Hokkaido University, Japan
- "Climate Change Impacts on Brazilian Pollinators" - Tereza (Cris) Giannini, Federal University of Para, Brazil
- "Pollinator Health in a Commercial Blueberry System" - Lief Richardson, University of Vermont
Lunch at Segundo Dining Commons (opens from 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.)
Optional Discussion: How do you relate your science to justice, equity and advocacy issue
1:45 Session 4: Causes and Consequences of Pesticide Use: From Use Patterns to Pollination Services
- "A New Framework for Environmental Risk Assessment of Pesticides" - Francisco Sánchez-Bayo, University of Sydney, Australia
- "Potency Paradox: Patterns and Drivers of Insecticide Use in U.S. Agriculture" - Maggie Douglas, Dickinson College
- "Estimating Pollinator Pesticide Exposure" - Maj Rundlof, Lund University, Sweden
Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "A Risk Assessment of Neonicotinoid Insecticides in New York" - Travis Grout, Cornell University
- "Risk of Exposure in Soil and Sublethal Effects of Systemic Insecticides Applied to Crops on Adult Female Ground-Nesting Bees Using the Hoary Squash Bee as a Model Species" - D. Susan Willis Chan, University of Guelph, Canada
- "Delayed Lethality: The Effects of a Widely-Used Fungicide on Honey Bees (Apis mellifera)" - Adrian Fisher II, Arizona State University
- "Sub-lethal Impacts of Pesticides on Bees" - Troy Anderson, University of Nebraska
Poster Session 2 and Networking at the ARC Ballroom
Saturday, July 21
8 a.m. Registration at the ARC Ballroom
6:45 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast at Segundo Dining Commons
9 a.m.: Session 5: Integrative Approaches to Improving Bee Health Across Landscapes
- "Combining Physiological and Ecological Data for More Effective Bee Protection and Conservation" - Cedric Alaux, INRA, France
- "Keeping Bees in a Warming World: Protein Biomarkers for Heat Stress and Queen Failure Diagnostics" - Alison McAfee, North Carolina State University
- "Factors Influencing Colony Survival in Migratory Beekeeping Based on Honey Bee Resistance Traits" - Michael Simone-Finstrom, USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- "Temporal and Spatial Dynamics of Pollinator Communities across North Carolina Agroecosystem" - Hannah Levenson, North Carolina State University
- "The Effects of Land Cover on Habitat Quality for Nesting Bumble Bees" - Genevieve Pugesek, Tufts University
10 to 10:15 a.m. Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "Improving Bee Health in Canola Pollination" - Shelley Hoover, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
- "Mitigating Land Use Decisions that Destroy Bee Forage" - George Hansen, Foothills Honey, Oregon, USA
- "Impact of Landscape-Scale Floral Resources Availability on Pollinator Communities" - Aaron Iverson, Cornell University
- "Why are Crops Mainly Visited by Broadly Polylectic Bee Species?" - Katja Hogendoorn, The University of Adelaide, South Australia
1:40: Session 6: Pollinators in Urban Environments
- Presentation by The Wonderful Company
- Honoring new California Master Beekeeper graduates - Elina Niño, UC Davis
- "Floral Trophic Ecology of a North American Metropolis Revealed by Honey Bee Foraging Assay" -
Doug Sponsler, Penn State University
- "Pollinators and Urban Warming: A Landscape Physiology Approach" - Elsa Youngsteadt, North
Carolina State University
- "Green Infrastructure to Support Urban Wild bees: Communicating Science to Practitioners" - Scott
McIvor, University of Toronto, Canada
- "Urban Pollinator Conservation Opportunities: Integrating Research with Policy and Practice" -
Katherine Baldock, University of Bristol, UK
- "Linking Pollinator Health, Microbiome Composition and Human Provisioning in Anna's Hummingbird
(Calypte anna) - Rachel Vannette, UC Davis
Break (Light refreshments in the foyer)
- "Beekeeping Ordinances: Protecting bees and Neighbors" - Tracy Ellis, San Diego County
Department of Agriculture
- "Beekeeping in the City: Successes and Challenges" - Charlie Blevins, San Francisco Beekeepers'
- "Electric Power Companies Protecting Pollinators" - Jessica Fox, Electric Power Research Institute,
- "The Effect of Land use on a Sexually Selected Characteristic of the Cabbage White Butterfly (Pieris
rapae) in the United States" - Anne Espeset, University of Nevada, Reno
- "Urban Pollinator Conservation: Bee Campus USA and Bee City USA as a Model for Meaningful
Community Engagement" - Phyllis Stiles, Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Portland,Ore.
(There are no plans to video-record the conference, according to Elizabeth Luu (firstname.lastname@example.org) of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, the events coordinator for the conference.)
Pollinators aren't just bees, butterflies, beetles and bats.
They're also birds, like hummingbirds.
Ornithologists tell us that hummingbirds can easily eat their weight in a day, feasting on carbohydrates (nectar from blossoms and sugar water from feeders) and protein (insects and spiders).
The hummingbird menu includes such insects as ants, aphids, fruit flies, gnats, weevils, beetles, mites and mosquitoes. They also raid spider webs to grab a quick spider meal and any hapless insects trapped there.
We were thinking of insects and pollinators today (this blog focuses on insects and the entomologists who study them) after reading a UC Davis research paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B that tested sugar water in hummingbird feeders.
Fact is, sugar water in hummingbird feeders can contain high densities of microbial cells but “very few of the bacteria or fungi identified have been reported to be associated with avian disease,” says community ecologist and co-author Rachel Vannette of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The research is one of the first to explore the microbial communities that dwell in sugar water from feeders and compare them to those found in flower nectar and samples from live hummingbirds.
“The potential for sugar water from hummingbird feeders to act as a vector for avian pathogens--or even zoonotic pathogens--is unknown,” said Vannette, an assistant professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. “Our study is one of the first to address this public concern. Although we found high densities of both bacteria and fungi in sugar water samples from feeders, very few of the species of bacteria or fungi found have been reported to cause disease in hummingbirds.”
“So although birds definitely vector bacteria and fungi to feeders, based on the results from this study, the majority of microbes growing in feeders do not likely pose significant health hazards to birds or humans,” Vannette said. “However, a tiny fraction of those microbes has been associated with disease, so we encourage everyone who provides feeders for hummingbirds to clean their feeders on a regular basis and to avoid areas where human food is prepared.”
The paper, “Microbial Communities in Hummingbird Feeders Are Distinct from Floral Nectar and Influenced by Bird Visitation,” is the work of first author Casie Lee, a UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine student; Professor Lee Tell of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Department of Medicine and Epidemiology; Tiffany Hilfer, an undergraduate student and Global Disease Biology major; and Vannette.
Lee, mentored by Vannette and Tell, led the field experiment and performed bird observations and laboratory work during a summer project funded by the Students Training in Advanced Research (STAR) and Merial Veterinary Scholars Programs.
The researchers also compared the microbes in the feeders to those in floral nectar and found they differed in microbial composition.
“Birds, feeder sugar water, and flowers hosted distinct bacterial and fungal communities,” they wrote in their abstract. “Floral nectar and feeder sugar water hosted remarkably different bacterial communities; Proteobacteria comprised over 80% of nectar bacteria, but feeder sugar water contained relatively high abundance of Firmicutes and Actinobacteria, as well as Proteobacteria. Hummingbird feces hosted both bacterial taxa commonly found in other bird taxa and novel genera including Zymobacter (Proteobacteria) and Ascomycete fungi.”
The UC Davis scientists conducted their research at a private residence in Winters, attracting two hummingbird species, Calypteanna (Anna's Hummingbird) and Archilochus alexandri (Black-chinned Hummingbird) to drop net feeder traps. They mixed bottled water with conventional white granulated sugar (one part sugar and four parts water).
See more information--and photos--on their research on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
But back to insects and the hummingbirds that eat them. Entomologist Doug Tallamy of the University of Delaware says that "hummingbirds like and need nectar but 80 percent of their diet is insects and spiders."
Wildbirds on Line says: "I frequently put overripe bananas of my fruit feeder to attract tiny fruit flies, which in turn attract the hummers. The hummingbirds eat every fly and return in a few hours to feast on the next batch of fruit flies that discover the overripe fruit. What an easy way to observe hummers eating insects!"
Now that's an idea! Fruit flies for the hummers!
Vannette, who researches pollinator microbiomes, titled her innovative project “Characterizing the Structure and Function of Pollinator Microbiomes." She investigates the communities of bacteria and fungi in flowers and pollinators, including bees and hummingbirds. “Our work to date suggests that microbes in flowers are common and influence pollinator behavior,” she says.
The Hellman funding will allow her to link microbial communities in flowers with their influence on pollinators by examining microbial modification of nectar and pollen chemistry, and examine how microbial effects vary among plant and pollinator species, and with environmental variation.
We remember the groundbreaking research published by Vannette and her colleagues last year in the New Phytologist journal. Their paper, titled “Nectar-inhabiting Microorganisms Influence Nectar Volatile Composition and Attractiveness to a Generalist Pollinator,” showed that nectar-living microbes release scents or volatile compounds that can influence a pollinator's foraging preference.
Nectar-inhabiting species of bacteria and fungi “can influence pollinator preference through differential volatile production,' Vannette related last September. “This extends our understanding of how microbial species can differentially influence plant phenotype and species interactions through a previously overlooked mechanism. It's a novel mechanism by which the presence and species composition of the microbiome can influence pollination. Broadly, our results imply that the microbiome can contribute to plant volatile phenotype. This has implications for many plant-insect interactions.”
The 11 Hellman Fellows will receive a total of $244,000 in grants for research in a wide range of disciplines. Since 2008, UC Davis has received nearly $3 million in Hellman grants, awarded to 136 early-career faculty members. The Hellman Fund provides grant monies to early career faculty on all 10 UC campuses, as well as to four private institutions.
Vannette joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology in 2015 after serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University's biology department, where she was a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow from 2011 to 2015 and examined the role of nectar chemistry in community assembly of yeasts and plant-pollinator interactions.
She received her bachelor of science degree, summa cum laude, in 2006 from Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich., and her doctorate from the University of Michigan's Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Ann Arbor, in 2011. Her thesis: “Whose Phenotype Is It Anyway? The Complex Role of Species Interactions and Resource Availability in Determining the Expression of Plant Defense Phenotype and Community Consequences.”
We look forward to hearing more about this exciting research!
The hummingbirds seemed apprehensive.
They'd fly to the feeder, stop in mid-air, and turn back.
What was keeping them from the feeder?
A closer look revealed what the casual observer wouldn't notice: a praying mantis.
Was the mantis a predator or the prey? Hummingbirds eat insects, and the larger mantids eat hummingbirds.
We waited to see what would happen next.
A hummer opted to take a drink. The praying mantis, sprawled out on the feeder in a position we've never seen before, didn't move.
It later moved to another spot on the feeder.
The next morning, no mantis. Gone.
Maybe it moved to another location. Or maybe another predator nailed it.
Meanwhile, check out a photo published in National Geographic that shows a praying mantis grasping a hummer. It's not for the squeamish.
And YouTube shows numerous videos of mantids attacking hummers. Watch this video of multiple hummers trying to dodge a praying mantis.
(Editor's Note: Like Bug Squad on Facebook)
If your hummingbird feeders are filled with that oh-so-tantalizing sweet sugary syrup, you may be attracting not only hummers, but honey bees, too. In fact, the bees may be crowding out the hummers.
Just how do you keep your hummers happy and the bees away from the bird feeders?
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology is asked that often.
The trick, he says, is to make sure the hummers CAN reach the syrup, but the bees CANNOT.
"The hummers’ tongues are much longer than bee tongues," he says. "So find or make a feeder that has a little wire screen “hood” over and around the hole where the syrup is available. Eight-mesh is good. If the hummers can’t feed through it, try six-mesh; anything larger than that and the bees can crawl through. Feeders that have the hole pointing upward probably are best. Make sure that the bees cannot reach the syrup anywhere on the feeders--leaks--and your problems are solved."
Mussen adds: "If you are not an engineer and don’t wish to build your own, bee-proof hummingbird feeders can be found on the web. Some just use a tube that is too long for the bees to reach the syrup. That is great, unless the device leaks to the sides. Bees are happy to lick up spills. They do not need to reach the main source."