It's Thanksgiving Day, and as we sit down with family and friends to count our blessings, let's thank the bees.
If your table includes pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, onions, apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, sunflower seeds, and almonds, praise the bees for their pollination services.
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are generalists, while the squash bees (Peponapis pruinosa) are specialists that pollinate only the cucurbits or squash family, Cucurbitaceae.
And don't forget the spices. Honey bees visit the plants that eventually comprise our spices, including sage, basil, oregano and thyme.
Ready for dessert? Ice cream? Even milk and ice cream are closely linked to the honey bee. Cows feed on alfalfa, which is pollinated by honey bees (along with other bees).
If you've ever been asked that, you may have responded--quite politely--"Small, thank you!"
You probably didn't thank the squash bees.
But as we celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, let's remember that squash bees probably pollinated the pumpkin that ended up as a pie on your table.
The squash bee, Peponapis pruinosa, is a specialist that pollinates only the cucurbits or squash family, Cucurbitaceae, which includes pumpkins, squash, gourds, cucumbers and zucchini. P. pruinosa is a species of solitary bee in the tribe Eucerini, the long-horned bees. There's also another genera, Xenoglossa.
Squash bees are early risers, rising before the sun does. They begin pollinating the blossoms as soon as they open. Other bee species, such as honey bees (which are non-natives), don't visit the flowers so early.
Around noon, the blossoms close for the day, so there's a limited time for pollination--and a limited time to admire and photograph them.
The females are ground nesters. "The males sleep in the blossoms at night and wait for the females to arrive," the late late Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, told us.
Another attribute: The squash bee is a native of North America, unlike the honey bee.
"Before Europeans brought honey bees to the New World, squash bees were busy aiding the adoption, domestication, spread, and production of squashes and gourds by indigenous peoples throughout the Americas," according to an article by USDA research entomologist James Cane.
"Hey, there, pumpkin, do you want another piece of pie, pollinated by our native bees, the squash bees?"
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.)
What a great idea!
The Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center on the UC Davis campus is spearheading a "Pitch & Plant Gardening Contest." They're looking for folks to (1) pitch an idea for a raised bed and (2) plant it and nurture it from summer into fall.
The project is geared for the UC Davis community but folks outside the campus can also apply, according to program officer Britta Hansen of the Horticulture Innovation Lab. “I would say that preference will be given to UC Davis students, staff and faulty but we are open to non-affiliated individuals using the space.”
"We're looking for some bright minds and green thumbs to fill the raised beds with interesting plants," she said. "We have four raised beds available, each 8.5 x 4 feet in dimension, ready for up to four ideas. Planting and garden maintenance would be from July 18 up to the end of October."
This is a fast-moving contest, with a pending deadline. So email your 3-slide PowerPoint pitch for what you want to plant by Friday, July 1, to Britta Hansen at email@example.com. The rules? Download PDF. Finalists will be asked to pitch their ideas in person the week of July 11-15.
The Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center currently displays vegetables from Africa and Asia, along with agricultural tools that small-scale farmers use in other countries. The location is at http://campusmap.ucdavis.edu/?l=860
Meanwhile, they offer a potpourri of ideas. Would you…
- plant a salsa garden?
- grow eggplants in all shapes and sizes?
- compare chili peppers to find the spiciest?
- test different types of mulch for keeping soil moist?
An added incentive: the demonstration center will provide materials, including seeds from their collection (or they may purchase them for you) and basic gardening tools.
Note that this isn't an income-producing plot. You won't get paid but you'll have the pleasure of planting and tending your own little garden, your very own Happy Place. And you can take home or consume what you grow. Estimated time required per week? Two to five hours.
Hmm…I wonder how many suggestions might include planting squash, cucumber and other cucurbits? Those would not only yield nutritious vegetables but attract the squash bees and other pollinators. And the Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) would be a good draw for bees, butterflies and other insects.
Plant it and they will come.
The more we know about our pollinators, the better we'll be able to protect and sustain them.
Bee scientists from the UC Davis Department of Entomology will present four of the six talks at the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Pollinator Workshop, set Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Woodland.
The event, free and open to all interested persons, will take place from 9 to 11 a.m. in Norton Hall, 70 Cottonwood St.
Topics will include multiple stresses on honey bees; sustainable pollination strategies for specialty crops; native pollinators and squash and pumpkin pollination; insecticides, honey bees and hybrid onion seed production; and creating habit for pollinators, according to UCCE's Yolo County farm advisor Rachael Long.
The meeting is sponsored by UCCE and the Yolo County Resource Conservation District.
9 to 9:10 a.m.
Introductions and Updates: Rachael Long, farm advisor, UCCE Yolo County
9:10 – 9:35 a.m.
“Multiple Stresses are Hard on Honey Bees”: Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist, UC Davis Department of Entomology
9:35 – 10 a.m.
“Sustainable Pollination Strategies for Specialty Crops”: Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
10 to 10:20 a.m.
“Native Pollinators and Squash and Pumpkin Pollination”: Katharina Ullmann, graduate student, Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology
10:20 – 10:40 a.m.
“Insecticides Reduce Honeybee Visitation and Pollen Germination in Hybrid Onion Seed Production”: Sandra Gillespie, postdoctoral researcher, Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology.
10:40 – 11 a.m.
“Creating Habitat for Pollinators”: Jessa Guisse of Sacramento, Pollinator Habitat Restoration specialist, The Xerces Society
Norton Hall is located between the UCCE office and the Agricultural Commissioner’s office.
For further information, contact Katie Churchill of UCCE, Woodland, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 666-8143.