So you want to learn about native bees...
Be sure to attend Robbin Thorp's presentation on "Buzzed for Bees" on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 19 at the Rush Ranch Nature Center, Suisun.
Thorp, a native pollinator specialist and an emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, will share his knowledge about bees in a two-hour presentation from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
The event, free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Rush Ranch Educational Council and the Solano Land Trust.
Thorp, a noted authority on native bees in vernal pools, the ecology of bumble bees, and honey bee pollination, will talk about the importance of native bees as crop pollinators and encourage folks to provide for them. He will display bee specimens, including bumble bees, sweat bees, and carpenter bees.
Thorp, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty in 1964 "officially" retired in 1994, but unofficially, he didn't. He continues to do research, write publications, and deliver lectures. He maintains his office/lab at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
He teaches at The Bee Course, an annual workshop held at the annual Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. It draws conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees.
Thorp is also co-authoring a book on urban bees and is a docent and instructor at the Solano Land Trust's Jepson Prairie Reserve.
One of his numerous research projects is monitoring the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden and demonstration garden planted south of the Laidlaw facility. Over the last several years, he has found and identified more than 75 bee species in the haven. California has some 1600 species of native bees. Globally, there are more than 20,000.
So, attend the "Buzzed for Bees" presentation and ask him how you, too, can help promote bee health. You won't find anyone more knowledgeable or more passionate about bees than Robbin Thorp.
Do you recognize the native bee that graces the cover of the current edition of California Agriculture, a peer-reviewed journal published by the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources?
Yes, it's a carpenter bee. The spectacular photograph by Rollin Coville captures this native pollinator nectaring a mint flower in an urban
You've probably seen this insect in your own garden. It's about the size of a bumble bee with a decimel level that rivals rush-hour traffic.
The carpenter bee is just one of the native bees featured in the July-September edition.
UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie, a professor in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, wrote the lead article with several co-authors, including professor emeritus Robbin Thorp of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. (Thorp, a noted bumble bee expert, recently presented a Webinar at UC Davis on bumble bees.)
(Thorp, a noted bumble bee expert, recently presented a Webinar at UC Davis on bumble bees.)
The photos drive home the point that not all bees are honey bees, and the bee we know as a honey bee is not a native. In fact, European colonists brought the honey bee (Apis mellifera) to North America
The journal article spotlights bee-pollinator research conducted over a three-year period in seven cities from northern to s
And now, more good news...
The national award-winning California Agriculture journal, edited by executive editor Janet White and managing editor Janet Byron, just reached a major milestone. Their newly launched Web site, two years in the making, offers the full text of nearly 6000 articles published over the past 63 years. Free access. Searchable, too. You’ll want to bookmark the link.
The military has its 21-gun salute. California Agriculture ought to have a 21-field salute.
No, make that a 63-field salute.
One for every year.../st1:place>/st1:place>/o:p>/st1:place>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/st1:state>/st1:place>/o:p>/o:smarttagtype>/o:smarttagtype>
Scientists have long been studying alternative pollinators, especially with the decline of the honey bee population and growing concerns about "How will we pollinate our crops?"
Now a newly published study in the Annals of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) shows that wild bees, which are not affected by Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), may serve as alternative pollinators.
You've seen the tiny bees buzzing around on blossoms. At first glance, you may have mistaken them for honey bees. They're not.
Chances are you'll be hearing more about them, though.
ESA's communications director Richard Levine e-mailed us a press release today
reporting the results of a three-year scientific study that took place on 15 southwestern
Most species were from subfamily Halictinae (family Halictidae) and genus Andrena (family Andrenidae)
The journal article, titled "Wild Bees (Hymenoptera: Apoidea: Anthophila) of the Michigan Highbush Blueberry Agroecosystem," was authored by Julianna K. Tuell (
A quote from Tuell in the news release: "This should help growers know what kinds of bees are in the fields so that they can make informed decisions about whether they should modify crop management practices in order to help conserve natural populations of bees."
"Untreated bamboo or reeds are good materials because they provide natural variation in hole diameter to attract the broadest range of species. There are also a number of commercially manufactured options that growers can use, such as foam blocks with pre-drilled holes and cardboard tubes made to a particular diameter to suit a particular species of interest. Drilling different sized holes in wood is another option. If a grower is interested in trying to build up populations of a particular species, there are also details about how to do so available online."
Good idea. On a tour of Yolo County farms last year, we saw many "bee condos," or nesting cavities, for the native pollinators. (See below). They're easy to make. Just like a baseball field attracts players, so will bee condos attract native pollinators. Build them and they will come.
(B y the way ESA now has a presence on Facebook, offering more opportunities for social networking.)
y the way ESA now has a presence on Facebook, offering more opportunities for social networking.)
Build it and they will come.
Baseball’s “Field of Dreams?”
No, a bee nesting block. Think "bee condo."
It’s an artificial nesting site made of wood and drilled with different-sized holes and depths to accommodate the diversity of native pollinators. Often the bee block is nailed to a fence post. Native bees, such as leafminer bees and blue orchard bees, build their nests inside the holes.
Fact is, North America is home to about 4,000 species of native bees. (The common honey bee is not a native; colonists brought it here from Europe in the 1600s.)
Members of the Xerces Society, an international organization "dedicated to protecting biological diversity through invertebrate conservation," are keen on protecting the habitat of native bees and other native invertebrates. As part of their public outreach program, they publish books, pamphlets and fact sheets. These include Pollinator Conservation Handbook, Farming for Bees, and the fact sheet, Bumble Bees in Decline.
As for the bee condos, thousands are sold each year in the
Vaughan, who escorted a group of us on a recent Yolo County farm tour, said many of our native bee species are much more efficient than honey bees at pollinating some crops.
"For example, only 250 female orchard mason bees (genus Osmia, also called blue orchard bees) are required to effectively pollinate an acre of apples, a task that would require 1.5 to 2 honey bee hives--approximatley 15,000 to 20,000 foragers." (Source: Farming for Bees, a Xerces Society publication.)
Native bees sport such names as miner, carpenter, leafcutter, mason, plasterer or carder, reflecting their nesting behaviors.
See the bee (below) heading toward the bee block? Xerces Society member Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who researches native pollinators, including bumble bees, says this is a female leafcutting bee, "probably the introduced Megachile apicalis, a specialist on Centaurea species, especially yellow starthistle."
The leafcutter bee, as its name implies, cuts leaves to form its nest.