DAVIS--The question can bug beginners: “How do you make an insect collection?”
Scores of high school and college students, along with 4-H and other youth groups, face “this entomological rite of passage,” says James R. Carey, professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. “They don’t know where to start.” The project involves collecting, preserving and displaying insects.
Now short, informative and fast-paced video clips on “How to Make an Insect Collection,” produced by UC Davis students enrolled in Carey’s specially offered course last spring is available free on the UC Davis Entomology Web site (see background and the clips).
The entire series, totaling 11 clips ranging in length from 32 seconds to 77 seconds, can be viewed in just less than 10 minutes.
“So in less than 10 minutes, someone can learn how to make an insect collection,” Carey said. The clips are tightly scripted, with an emphasis on brevity, simplicity and low cost.
The project is drawing widespread interest.
“I have looked for a couple of years for some quick instructional clips for my zoology students to use as reference for their insect collections, but there was never anything on the internet that seemed to be useful, said Davis High School biology teacher Tim Peevyhouse. “I will be testing these videos out with my students this fall to see if they find them helpful. I think they will like being able to see the techniques multiple times rather than just when I present them in class; especially those with YouTube attention spans. I think there is tremendous long-term payback on the time spent developing learning tools like these online videos.”
“It was an engaging, enjoyable fulfilling and productive experience,” Carey said. The project will also serve as model for other entomology students who wish to create their own module of “how to” videos.
Making the insect-collection module was a low tech-low cost operation partly by design. “I wanted production to be ‘low tech’ so that anyone who could use a point-and-shoot camera and basic movie-editing software could produce a video clip,” Carey said.”It needed to be low cost not only because of no funding for the project, but because the basic challenge was to produce a set of high-content-high quality video clips at virtually zero cost.
The videographers were undergraduate students Joseline Saldivar, Tylan Selby and Ralph Washington Jr.; and graduate students Emily Bzdyk, James Harwood, Brittany Nelms and Amy Morice.
They were divided into two teams, with one team using MovieMaker software (included in the MS Office package) and the other team using Sony Vegas Movie Studio. Both teams used Photoshop to sharpen the images in imported photos.
Each video clip consisted of four sections: lead-in, equipment/supplies, demonstration and closing. They opted for Georgia font because of its readability and because it resembles the font used in the UC Davis logo. UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey provided introductory narration.
Paul ver Wey, media production manager of the UC Davis Information Educational Technology’s Academic Technology Services, taught them the basics of videography and editing; Wes Nelms gave a tutorial on the use of Vegas Movie Studio software.
In addition, Tabatha Yang of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of some seven million specimens, and Kathy Keatley Garvey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology assisted in the classroom.
Yang described the videos as “a great reference tool.”
"How do I start an insect collection?" is a question we hear a lot at the Bohart and from all ages,” Yang said. “The other day a father walked in and was asking about making a collection because his daughters' high school biology class required it. I referenced the videos on the Department of Entomology home page. Together as a family they made pitfall traps and they shook bushes to collect insects.”
Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon said that since they were doing pretty much everything they could do, his one piece of advice was to keep an insect net on hand at all times and to simply spend more time outside during warm, hot days. “Keep looking and practice catching,” he said.
“That is the great thing about insect collecting,” Yang said. “The collector needs to spend a lot of time exploring nature. When you are outside looking for insects you can't help but hear the birds, notice seeds, flowers and animal tracks.”
Said Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H program representative whose daughter earlier made an insect collection as part of her Westwind (Fairfield, Calif.) 4-H Club entomology project: “I think the information would be very helpful to 4-H members who are learning to prepare an insect collection. The video clips are short and easy to understand. UC Master Gardeners could benefit from this information, too.”
How to Make an Insect Collection
(This is the work of a UC Davis class taught by Professor James R. Carey, with UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey providing the introductory narration.)
By James R. Carey
Professor, Department of Entomology
Making an insect collection is an entomological rite-of-passage for many high school biology students as well as for a large number of college students taking their first entomology course. To help make this enterprise more efficient, enjoyable, and gratifying, I offered a 2-credit seminar Spring Quarter (2010) with the goal of producing a series of video clips on making an insect collection. The operational concept for producing these clips, all of which were to be packaged in a module titled "How to Make an Insect Collection," was to create a small number of short (30-90 secs), tightly scripted videos describing the basic steps or procedures for collecting, preserving and displaying insects. Completeness, detail and high tech were traded off for brevity, simplicity and low cost.
Making the Video Module
Making the clips for the "How to Make an Insect Collection" module was a low tech/low cost operation, partly by default (i.e. neither I nor most of the students or staff were familiar with producing videos), and partly by design. I wanted production to be "low tech" so that anyone who could use a point-and-shoot camera and basic movie-editing software could produce a video clip. It needed to be "low cost," not only because there was no funding for this seminar project, but because the basic challenge was to produce a set of high-content/high-quality video clips at virtually zero cost. Although the specific goal of the "How to" seminar was to produce the module on insect collecting, a broader objective was to create a model that others could use to create their own module of ‘how to’ videos on any number of topics.
- ‘How to’ examples. Initial reviews of 8-10 different "how to" videos posted on YouTube provided many ideas including video clip do’s (e.g. sparse, simple, short, direct) and don’t’s (e.g. ramble, scene clutter, too long), and video models (e.g. "cooking" model; "this-old-house" model).
- Equipment/software/supplies. Tripod-mounted "point-and-shoot" cameras with video capabilities were used to record all demonstrations used in the video clips. One student team used MovieMaker software (included in MS OFFICE package) and the other team used Sony Vegas Movie Studio ($85). Photoshop was used by both teams to sharpen the images in imported photos. The content of clips dictated entomological needs such as nets, pins and spreading boards.
- Scripts. All clips were carefully scripted, most of which involved a narrative that was written out and recorded separately ‘voice over’ (using microphone hooked into laptop), a shot sequence for the equipment/supply needs, and the demonstration of the procedure (e.g. spreading; ground collecting). Emphasis was placed on simplicity, compactness, and non-technicality.
- Shooting/Recording. Shooting short clips was preferred over shooting long ones since few demos required over 15-20 seconds of continuous recording. Multiple cameras from different angles (e.g. overhead; profile) were used for some demos. Camera zooming was strictly avoided although in one clip (pinning) the movie editing software was used in a slow ‘zoom’ for emphasis. Indoor demos were illuminated using desk lamps and/or ambient lights and outdoor demos were shot either in the shade or on slightly overcast days. Sound was limited to voice-overs (use the same microphone for all voiceovers to maintain continuity of quality and tone).
- Editing. Short clips and pauses were used between voice-over sentences for easier editing. Simple, non-flashy transitions were used between video segments. Labeling was kept simple and sparse with consistent text and font (Georgia font was chosen because it was easy to read and resembled the font used in the UC Davis logo).
- Template. Each video clip consisted of four sections: (1) Lead—both cover and title slides, the former identifying UC Davis Entomology, and the latter consisting of the "How to" module title and then a fade in of the specific clip (e.g. Pinning); (2) Equipment/supplies—section laid out in a voice-over slides containing pictures of the "ingredients" (e.g. pins; mounting board); (3) Demonstration—the actual demo of the procedure; and (4) Closing—single slide containing information on additional clips, the date, and the participants of the ‘how to’ seminar.
These are posted on YouTube.
Hand Collecting (32 seconds)
Using an Aspirator (34 seconds)
Ground Collecting (54 seconds)
Aquatic Collecting (58 seconds)
Using Nets (58 seconds)
Killing (51 seconds)
Pinning (43 seconds)
Point Mounting (50 seconds)
Labeling Specimens (48 seconds)
Spreading (77 seconds)
Storage and Display (32 seconds)
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
It's not an “ordinary” bee suit. And what he does is not “ordinary.”
Norman Gary, a retired University of California, Davis entomology professor, wears his bees—thousands of them.
And that suits him just fine. To him, bees are not only a science (study of apiculture), but an adventure.
Gary, 76, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career, will appear Thursday, Sept. 16 on a History Channel show wearing 75,000 bees. The show, part of Stan Lee's “Super Humans,” is scheduled to be broadcast at 10 p.m., Pacific Time (Channel 64 for local Comcast viewers).
Host-presenter Daniel Browning Smith has billed him as “the human bee hive” and will explore bee behavior and the science behind the bees.
A crew from England filmed Gary in mid-May at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, at Rick Schubert's Bee Happy Apiaries in Vacaville-Winters and then in a UC Davis open field where the 75,000 bees clustered his entire body.
“That's about 20 pounds, depending upon how much honey or sugar syrup they have consumed,” Gary said. “A hungry bee weighs approximately 90 mg and within a minute of active ingestion she can increase her weight to 150 mgs!”
Norman Gary knows bees. And he knows their behavior.
As a beekeeper, he's kept bees for 62 years and as a researcher, he's studied them for more than three decades. He's published more 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and four book chapters.
But he is also a bee wrangler. He trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
Gary estimates he has performed the bee cluster stunt at least 500 times over the past 35 years. He remembers 54 performances at the California State Fair alone.
The History Channel episode may be his last professionally staged bee-cluster stunt, he said. However, he will continue to serve as a bee consultant to video producers and has just written a beginning beekeeping book, “The Honey Bee Hobbyist,” to be published in early December by Bow Tie Press.
“Bees are trainable, if you ask them to perform behaviors that are in their natural behavioral repertoire,” Gary said.
For the shoot, Gary borrowed New World Carniolan bees from Schubert, whose bee stock originated with bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of the Laidlaw facility. “Bees are not inclined to sting if they are well fed—happy and content—and are ‘under the influence' of powerful synthetic queen bee odors—pheromones—which tend to pacify them,” Gary said.
Bees are attracted to pheromones and cluster on drops of pheromones he places on himself. While at UC Davis, he formulated a pheromone solution that is very effective in controlling bee behavior.
“Bees wrangled by this procedure have no inclination to sting,” he said. “Stinging behavior occurs naturally near the hive in defense of the entire colony not for the individual bee, because it dies within hours after stinging. Using this approach I have has as many as a million bees clustered on six people simultaneously “
Gary once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.
“Most people fear bees,” Gary acknowledged. “They think bees ‘want' to sting them. Wrong! They sting only when the nest or colony is attacked or disturbed or when they are trapped in a physical situation where they are crushed.”
Sometimes, with the heavy weight of the bees on his body, he'll receive one or two stings per cluster stunt. Sometimes none.
Gary, who began hobby beekeeping at age 15 in Florida, went on to earn a doctorate in apiculture at Cornell University in 1959. During his career, he has worn many hats, including hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist and entomology professor, adult beekeeping education teacher, and author.
Known internationally for his bee research, Gary was the first to document reproductive behavior of honey bees on film and the first to discover queen bee sex attractant pheromones. He invented a magnetic retrieval capture/recapture system for studying the foraging activities of bees, documenting the distribution and flight range in the field. His other studies revolved around honey bee pollination of agricultural crops, stinging and defensive behavior, and the effects of pesticides on foraging activities, among dozens of others.
Today his life centers around music and bees. He has played music professionally for more than 50 years and for nine years has led a Dixieland band, appropriately known as the Beez Kneez Jazz Band, recording two CDs. He has performed more than 30 years in the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee, the world's largest jazz festival.
His instruments include the “B-flat clarinet,” which he plays when he's covered with bees.
“I'm still very active in bees and music,” Gary said. “It's a good life.”
As his Eagle Scout project, 17-year-old Derek Tully of Davis planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre pollinator garden at the University of California, Davis.
The public garden, adjacent to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, now boasts a post-and-rail fence to “bee-hold.”
The four-foot high fence, meshed with wire that extends six inches underground, is “meticulous,” “fabulous” and “beautiful,” agree UC Davis Department of Entomology officials, haven volunteers, and the garden's visitors.
Tully launched the project April 2, and with the help of fellow members of Scout Troop 111, adult volunteers, and his family and friends, including his father, Larry Tully, a retired machinist from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, completed it on Sept. 7. The 33-member crew often toiled in 100-degree heat as they calculated, measured, cut, assembled, hammered, nailed, capped and stained the fence.
Derek Tully negotiated with area businesses to obtain discounted prices. The total cost of materials: $6300. The UC Davis Department of Entomology picked up the tab through a special account coordinated by entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the haven's faculty liaison.
“This project saved our department an estimated $24,000 to $30,000,” Kimsey said. The garden, publicly dedicated Sept. 11, 2010, was installed during her term as interim chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. It is open from dawn to dusk at no charge.
Tully, a senior at DaVinci Charter Academy, Davis, will be honored at a UC Davis Department of Entomology recognition ceremony at 1:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 15 at the haven. The ceremony is part of two concurrent open houses, themed “Flower Lovers: The Bees,” planned from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Crocker Lane and the haven, located off Hutchinson Drive/Hopkins Road.
“Derek did a fabulous job organizing the project and the volunteers,” Kimsey said. She and her husband, UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey, himself an Eagle Scout, supported the fence project from its inception. The Kimseys are longtime friends of the Tully family.
“The fence is meticulous, a professional job,” said Lynn Kimsey. “It's beautiful.”
The sturdy fence, complete with three gates, is meant to define the space, beautify the garden, allow easy entrance to visitors, and restrict the movement of jackrabbits, ground squirrels and pocket gophers. The underground wiring is designed to inhibit burrowing animals that feast on the plants in the garden.
“Everyone likes the fence but the rodents,” quipped Larry Tully. He and his wife, Leslie Woodhouse, a research support scientist at the USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center on the UC Davis campus, serve as assistant scoutmasters of Troop 111. The troop is led by scoutmaster Mark Shafer.
The Eagle Scout project involved more than 488 volunteer hours, or to be exact, 488 hours and 15 minutes. Among the volunteers laboring on the fence, in addition to the adult volunteers, were 18 registered members of the Boy Scouts of America; forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey; Derek's brother, Shane, 21, also an Eagle Scout; and Derek's girlfriend, violinist Emily Talbot, 17.
“I think it's a good project,” Derek Tully humbly acknowledged. “I think it's one of the most solid Eagle Scout projects I've seen.”
“We're so grateful to Derek and his team for the contribution they have made to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven,” said Melissa “Missy” Gable, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis and involved in the garden since its very beginning. “The fence really gives the garden a sense of place and welcomes community members in to stroll the paths and enjoy the plants. Thanks to Derek, the outside of the garden now matches the beauty of the inside.”
In organizing the project and obtaining volunteers, Tully received assistance from greenhouse superintendent Garry Pearson, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, who augured the holes for the fence posts.
Tully said the project required 91 fence posts, 211 2x4s, 46 2x6 railings (each 20 feet long), four yards of gravel, 18 bags of concrete, and 12 rolls of wiring at 100 feet each.
Tully, who joined Tiger Cubs at age 5, worked his way up through the ranks to become a candidate for Eagle Scout, the highest rank in the Boy Scout program. To be eligible for the honor, candidates are required to earn a minimum of 21 merit badges; demonstrate scout spirit, service and leadership; organize a community project not related to scouting; and provide a detailed report of the project. Next step: Tully will appear before the Eagle Scout Board of Review. He is expected to receive his Eagle Scout rank in about a month.
In the meantime, Tully continues his studies at DaVinci Charter Academy and competes on the Davis High School water polo and swim teams, activities “way different” from working on the fence in triple-digit temperatures.
His brother Shane, a business major at Chico State University, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2008. He built a 20-person observation deck at the Korematsu Elementary School garden, Mace Ranch, Davis.
Future plans? No, Derek Tully does not have his sights set on becoming a professional fence builder.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology
Five faculty members from the Department of Entomology received the coveted team award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), for their collaborative work specializing in honey bees, wild bees and pollination issues through research, education and outreach. Their service to UC Davis spans 116 years.
The “Bee Team” is comprised of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology who coordinated the development and installation of a landmark bee friendly garden; and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in pollination and bee biology; and biologist/apiculturist Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in bee communication, bee behavior and bee health.
PBESA represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Thorp, who retired from the university in 1994, continues to work full-time on behalf of the bees, and has tallied 49 years of service to UC Davis. Mussen, who will retire in June of 2014, has provided 37 years of service; Kimsey, 24; Williams, 4 and Johnson, 2.
“The collaborative team exceptionally serves the university, the state, the nation, and indeed the world, in research, education and public service,” wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “The Bee Team is really the ‘A’ team; no other university in the country has this one-of-a-kind expertise about managed bees, wild bees, pollination, bee health, bee identification, and bee preservation. Honey bee health is especially crucial. Since 2006 when the colony collapse disorder surfaced, we as a nation have been losing one-third of our bees annually. Some beekeepers are reporting 50 to 100 percent winter losses. The importance of bees cannot be underestimated: one-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.”
Eric Mussen. "Honey bee guru" Mussen, known statewide, nationally and globally, is the “go-to” person when scientists, researchers, students, consumers and the news media have questions about honey bees. He is the pulse of the bee industry. His news media interviews have included Good Morning America, New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, CBS, ABC and NBC. Mussen, who joined the department in 1976, is in constant contact with his clientele, determining how beekeeping is faring throughout the state and across the nation. He discusses local, regional and national happenings in his bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and writes Bee Briefs, both posted on the Department of Entomology website. In his newsletters, Mussen provides practical applications for beekeepers gleaned from research papers published in scientific journals. He watches over the proposed and new registrations of pesticides, both used by beekeepers and by growers across the nation. He suggests ways in which the chemicals can be used for their desired purposes, without harming the bees.
Mussen, considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007, and in 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. He received the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award in 2010.
Mussen is a five-time president of the Western Apicultural Society, an organization he helped found in 1977. He's delivered the keynote addresses at the California State Beekeepers’ Association (CSBA) and at the American Honey Producers’ Association conventions. In addition, he provides leadership roles in the CSBA, the California Bee Breeders’ Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers’ Association, National Honey Board, American Beekeeping Federation, American Association of Professional Apiculturists, and the Northern California Entomology Society, among others.
Mussen periodically speaks to some 20 beekeeping organizations a year, taking time from his busy schedule (often on the weekends and evenings) to travel to all parts of California and beyond. Mussen also mans the honey-tasting table at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, where he encourages patrons to sample honey and ask questions. He displayed an observation hive at the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Dixon May Fair, where he answered questions from fairgoers.
“He is just as open to answering a question about Nosema to a beginning beekeeper or responding to a child’s question about queen bees as he is to helping a commercial beekeeper with 15,000 hives, or engaging in intricate scientific research,” Godfrey said.
Mussen, who is the UC Davis representative to the California State Apiary Board, offers input to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, particularly with the pesticide registration group. Lately he assisted U.S. beekeepers in writing letters to receive compensation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their CCD (colony collapse disorder) bee losses.
Mussen works closely with Cooperation Extension, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, researchers in the UC system, researchers at the USDA/ARS honey bee laboratories at Beltsville, Md; Baton Rouge, La.; Tucson, Ariz., Weslaco, Texas, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
Mussen serves on various committees and task forces of state and national organizations, reviews numerous manuscripts for journals; reviews annual research proposals to the California State Beekeepers’ Association, the Almond Board of California, and the National Honey Board; reviews Small Business Innovation Research applications at the federal level; and is requested to comment on promotion evaluations for university and USDA researchers.
Said Gene Brandi, legislative chairman of the California State Beekeepers’ Association: “Dr. Mussen’s service as a member of the California State Beekeepers’ Association is legendary. Any time the industry has needed Eric’s expertise at a meeting, at an industry or government hearing, to compile industry data, to write an article for a variety of publications, or for any reason whatsoever, he has always been ready, willing and more than able to accomplish the task.”
Recently, Mussen and “Bee Team” member Brian Johnson conducted experiments to determine the effects of feeding bees on a blend of sucrose syrup and high fructose corn syrup. They studied the effects of feeding colonies high doses of antibiotics, simultaneously. They are sampling bees from apparently healthy and declining colonies to see if viruses may be to blame for the dwindling bee population. And they hope to look at the use of various essential oils to reduce virus loads in honey bee colony populations.
Lynn Kimsey. Lynn Kimsey is the director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology. She spends thousands of hours every year identifying bees and other insects through the Bohart Museum and through queries on the UC Davis Department of Entomology web page. “Do you have an insect question? Ask it here!” She also writes the monthly Bohart Museum newsletters, often dealing with Hymenoptera, her specialty. In a recent column she named the states that chose the honey bee as the state insect. Globally prominent, Kimsey is a past president of the International Society of Hymenopterists.
As the former interim chair of the Department of Entomology, Kimsey spearheaded the rebuilding of the bee biology program and keyed the establishment, installation and development of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road. A groundbreaking ceremony took place in 2009 and a grand celebration opening on Sept. 11, 2010. The garden also serves as a demonstration garden and a research garden. The key goals of the garden are to provide bees with a year-around food source, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.
Kimsey also fulfilled a major role in the rebuilding of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Biology lab. Those involved, as well as the beekeeping industry, praised her leadership, insight and determination. In this process, she reached out to industry leaders and gained their support.
In the development and establishment of the haven, Kimsey “motivated students, volunteers and donors to bring the garden to fruition, creating a demonstration to create an awareness of the diversity of pollinators and their role in the ecology of plants to benefit agriculture, urban landscapes and the enjoyment of the general public for generations to come,” said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey.
Said Dora Sera Bailey, former director of consumer communications for Häagen-Dazs who worked with Kimsey: “The Häagen-Dazs brand is very proud and grateful for its long and strong relationship with UC Davis. It is a relationship that has come to full flower in the last several years, largely due to the vision, spirit of cooperation and commitment of Lynn Kimsey.”
Neal Williams. Williams, a pollination ecologist, is an assistant professor of pollination and bee biology in the department and a core faculty member in the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute. His research on pollination spans the disciplines of conservation biology, behavioral ecology and evolution. One of his primary research foci is on sustainable pollination strategies for agriculture. This work is critical given ongoing pressures facing managed honeybees and reported declines in important native pollinators such as bumble bees. With support from USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Specialty Crop Research Initiative, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and others he and colleagues explore the role of wild native bees, honey bees and other managed species as crop pollinators and the effects of landscape composition and local habitat quality on their persistence. They research involves:
- Under what contexts can native pollinators provide sufficient pollination for different crop? The answer to this question helps alleviate the stress placed on honey bees and also informs ways to more sustainably manage agricultural systems to promote biodiversity and production.
- How can we enhance habitat and diversify agricultural systems to promote managed and wild bees?
- Do pollinators interact in ways to increase the overall effectiveness of crop pollination?
This work has been carried out in agro-ecosystems in California’s Central Valley and in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. A continuing goal is to provide practical information that can be used to improve the long-term stability of pollination for agriculture in California, as well as promote pollinator conservation and management. Williams’ work in the East and West has helped form the base for NCRS planting guidelines to enhance pollinators in agriculture. Williams is also studying how habitat restoration affects pollinator communities and pollination. He has ongoing research with Sacramento River Project (Nature Conservancy/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) to determine whether native pollinator species and the service they provide are restored along with the vegetation that is the target of restoration.
Williams was part of an international research team that found that honey bees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other species of bees are present. The groundbreaking research was published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The research, which took place in California’s almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties, is especially important because it increases the pollination effectiveness of honey bees as demand for their pollination service grows. When blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging in almonds with honey bees, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective crop pollination, they found.
“My research program spans a tremendous diversity of fundamental and applied areas in pollination and bee biology,” Williams says. “It is linked by a common goal to understand mechanisms from individual to landscape scales that affect pollinator communities, populations and pollination function. One major research area in our lab is working to identify native plant materials to support managed and wild bee species in order to bolster their health, their populations and achieve greater stability of pollination in agricultural landscapes.”
“Although other colleagues in our region investigate the importance of habitat for bees, we are unique in developing methods to identify best plants for bees and then applying these methods to select the plants. Our approach involves extensive field data, original computational modeling, and controlled experimental testing. An exciting extension of this work is testing the performance of the resulting native plant mixes in real landscape. To this end we are working with over 20 different growers and landowners around the state of California and a variety of different crop types from orchard to row crop. We have helped to determine best practice for planting bee habitat, protocols for monitoring pollinator use and developed widely methods for assessing pollinator’s contribution to pollination service. We recognize the value of simultaneously supporting managed bees, such as Apis mellifera and Osmia lignaria, as well as promoting populations of diverse wild bee species. Thus, our efforts target different suites of pollinators. It is through the integration of different species in different contexts that we can achieve greater sustainable pollination. In another project we are directly quantifying the importance of diverse pollinators to promote pollination. We have shown that the presence of wild species increases the pollination effectiveness of honey bees on almond. The result offers great promise for augmenting pollination of this challenging crop.”
“Training of students at all levels is key components of my program,” says Williams, who has 26 students working in his lab. “I integrate multiple undergraduates into my own projects and in addition host those working with graduate students in the lab. I am also actively engaged in outreach/extension education with growers, beekeepers, conservation organizations, county and state agencies and the public to promote biodiversity conservation and work to enhance pollination in natural and agricultural systems. We have led training sessions about native pollinators for NRCS and others in multiple seasons, hosted the most recent meeting of the Orchard Bee Association, contributed to farmer field days, provided master gardener sessions on native pollinators and developed outreach materials. Our latest project is developing a list of region specific native plants to support honey bees and wild pollinators, this effort involves collaboration with others on the Bee Team and beyond. “
Williams is an important part of the USDA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) meetings. He is co-project director of Aspire Project: Augmenting Specialty Crop Pollination Through Integrated Research and Education for Bees, a coordinated agricultural project funded by SCRI. Williams serves as the project leader for habitat enhancement for bees and as a co-leader of a project seeking alternative managed bees for almonds.
Last year he was one of the featured speakers at the International Symposium on Pollinator Conservation in Fukuoka, Japan. His talk on “Bee Life History and Resource Distributions Determine Population and Community Responses to Agricultural Landscape Change” explored agricultural landscape change and the role of bee life history in predicting and understanding responses of bee communities.
Robbin Thorp. Bee expert Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor, retired in 1994 when he accepted the Golden Handshake Award, but he never really “retired.” Thorp continues to do research, teaching and graduate student mentoring. Every year he teaches at The Bee Course (http://research.amnh.org/iz/beecourse/) at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz., which has an all-volunteer faculty. The Bee Course draws conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists from all over the world who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees. He has trained hundreds of students, ranging from professors to graduate students.
Thorp is skilled in insect classification, general entomology, natural history of insects, field entomology, California insect diversity and pollination ecology. He is a member of 10 professional societies including the International Society of Hymenopterists. He is the regional co-chair of the North America section of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bumblebee Specialist Group. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization.
Thorp is deeply engrossed in identifying bees for research projects, including that of UC Berkeley conservation biologist Claire Kremen, a McArthur Fellow studying wild bees. Overall, he has identified more than 170,000 bees since his retirement in 1994, usually averaging at least 10,000 a year. He is also heavily involved with research, education and public outreach activities at the Bohart Museum, with Department of Entomology and other entities. .
Thorp does research at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. He has monitored the bee population since it was an open field. Over the last three years, Robbin has identified more than 80 species of bees—and counting--in the garden alone; these include bumble bees, carpenter bees and sweat bees.
An authority on Western bumble bees, Thorp delivered a talk on “Western North America Bumble Bees in Peril” to the Smithsonian in June 2009. His bumble bee research and his drive to save bees from extinction are two of his projects known nationally and internationally. He is the world authority on Franklin’s bumble bee, a bee feared extinct and known to habitat a small area in southern Oregon and northern California. He teamed with the Xerces Society to successfully fight a battle to include the bee on the threatened and endangered species list. He is now working to “save the bees” found in the Midwest and East Coast.
Thorp was honored for his work when he received the 2010-2011 Edward A. Dickson Emeriti Professorship, a high honor for UC Davis retired faculty. He delivers many talks, both scientific and for the lay audience, on wild bees and pollinator habitat. In addition to threatened or endangered bumble bees, his expertise includes vernal pool bees.
Brian Johnson. Brian Johnson, the newest member of the team, is a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow who received his Ph.D. in behavioral biology at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. His thesis: “The Organization of Work in the Honey Bee.” He studies communication and bee behavior, help is the honey bee industry and the scientific world, and is working feverishly for solutions to boost the declining bee population. His paper on “Effects of High Fructose Corn Syrup and Probiotics on Growth Rates of Newly Founded Honey Bee Colonies” is pending publication in the Journal of Apicultural Research. His paper on “Individual-level Patterns of Division of Labor in Honeybees Highlight Flexibility in Colony-level Developmental Mechanisms” was published in 2012 in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. He submitted
“Management Practices Affect Rates of Single and Multiple Viral Infection in the Honey Bee, Apis mellifera” sent to the Journal of Invertebrate Pathology
Johnson works closely with the California State Beekeepers Association (CBSA)—statewide, California has 500,000 colonies--and just received a $27,933 grant from them to study “Testing Feeding Methods for Maximizing the Growth and Health of Honey Bee Colonies.” He is teaching a UC Davis graduate seminar on Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) and just completed teaching a course on honey bee communication for a freshman seminar. Brian presented a well-received talk on honey bee communication at the inaugural event of the UC Davis Honey and Pollinator Center; and a lecture on “The Study of Social Insects” to the UC Davis Animal Behavior Core Graduate Group. He is involved in graduate teaching/advising and undergraduate lab teaching. He delivered a talk at Howard University, Washington D.C. on the “Organization and Evolution of Honey Bee Societies” and gave a talk on “Task Allocation in Middle-Age Honey Bees.” He also addressed the California Department of Food and Agriculture on “Roles of Self-Organization in Collective Decision Making” and “Future Research Directions at UC Davis” to California State Beekeepers’ Association.
Among those lending support to The Bee Team through letters were the Mary Delany, interim chair of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; AnnMaria de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau Federation; Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California Task Force Liaison; Mace Vaughn, pollinator conservation program director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology
Aug. 11, 2011
DAVIS--Janet Brown-Simmons and Melissa “Missy” Borel were each singled out for a UC Davis Distinguished Citation for Excellence Award--or the most outstanding person in their respective categories--at a ceremony Aug. 10 at the chancellor’s residence.
Chancellor Linda Katehi congratulated the winners.
Brown-Simmons showed the most outstanding achievement in the supervision category, while Borel showed the most outstanding achievement in the category of campus service, agreed the UC Davis Staff Assembly.
Their names will be placed on the perpetual plaque at the Alumni Center and they also will be recognized systemwide by the Council of UC Staff Assemblies.
The UC Davis Staff Assembly annually honors staff employees and employee teams who have shown outstanding achievement in general contributions, campus service, or supervision. The Staff Assembly usually presents about a dozen Citation for Excellence awards each year, and then singles out, for special recognition, the winners of Distinguished Citation for Excellence awards from that pool of awardees.
Janet Brown-Simmons is the chief administrative officer of the Departments of Entomology, Pathology and Nematology and coordinates the Phoenix Cluster administrative team. Melissa “Missy” Borel is the program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture and helped coordinate the design, installation and development of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. She continues her work on a volunteer basis
The complete list of winners, including the other Distinguished Citation for Excellence winners, will be posted on the UC Davis Staff Assembly website.
Among those receiving a Citation for Excellence was Shirley Gee, lab manager and staff research associate in the Bruce Hammock lab, Department of Entomology.
Distinguished Citation for Excellence
Janet Brown-Simmons, chief administrative officer for the Departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology, is a 17-year UC Davis employee. She worked two years in Anatomic Pathology at the UC Davis Medical Center, and 15 years on the UC Davis campus, including the Division of Education and now the Departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology.
"She is a rare gem and we think she's the most highly functioning CAO on campus," the nominating team wrote. "Her ability to build teams, challenge staff, solve large and unusual problems, and instill principles of community are beyond reproach. In the last year, she led the way in the clustering of three departments, keeping both staff and faculty happy. Her efficiency is such that she is continually asked by the dean's office to work with departments which are struggling. We've never worked with anyone so highly trusted and respected campuswide."
The nominators described her as "extremely well-liked, admired and an effective supervisor who encourages us to work to our full potential and gives us the tools to do our jobs. With her guidance, we are creative and proactive in our endeavors to fulfill the mission of our departments and the campus. We all benefit from her expertise as a supervisor and mentor...she has enormous leadership and management skills, yet humility."
"Despite her extremely heavy workload, she is always upbeat, positive, smiling, energetic and supportive. She uses humor daily and shares it with her supervisees."
The nominees praised her for meeting bi-weekly with staff to provide updates on current campus issues. As an active member of numerous UC Davis committees, she "ensures her department and staff have a voice on campus during these challenging times," they wrote.
Brown-Simmons has a master's degree in education from Boston University. Before joining the UC Davis workforce, she worked 13 years as a licensed medical technologist as a supervisor in chemistry, microbiology, toxicology and quality assurance for a reference lab. Highlights of her career? "Working with terrific people, building efficient organizations, and mentoring others," she said.
Brown-Simmons was nominated by the 14-member administrative team of Guyla Yoak, Sandra Vice, Suzette Garcia Wendy Johnson-Mesa, Brenda Wing, Elvia Hack, Gabriela Sanchez, Naima Carter, Alfred Chan, Frances Gamez, Lisa Jurado, and Thomas Gordon, chair of the Department of Plant Pathology; Steven Nadler, chair of the Department of Nematology; and Michael Parrella, chair of the Department of Entomology.
Melissa “Missy” Borel
Distinguished Citation for Excellence
Missy Borel coordinated the design competition for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, helped develop the garden through donations and an outreach program, recruited and coordinated additional campus programs to add educational and art content to the garden, and now, as a volunteer, helps maintain it.
She lends advice about plants and the layout, guides tours, asks for donations from a network of friends and colleagues in the horticulture industry, has granted countless news media interviews, and helped with the official opening of the garden on Sept. 11, 2010.
Borel coordinated with five distinct campus units and three extra agencies during the design and building phases of the garden. More than 80 percent of the garden was installed with donated materials.
The garden, installed under the watch of Bohart Museum of Entomology director and entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, then interim chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, has become a campus destination where visitors learn about bees and landscaping and can admire the art (a six-foot-long bee sculpture, beehive art, and mosaic of native bees). A thriving volunteer corps maintains the garden and continues to enhance the beauty of the space. The volunteer group praised her for building a great outreach program and being a good leader. “She’s so personable and enthusiastic,” one said.
Borel, a member of the Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bee Board, received her bachelor of science degree in plant sciences from UC Davis in 2004 and her master’s degree in horticulture and agronomy from UC Davis in 2007. She focused her graduate research on (1) best practices for the development of educational signage in botanical gardens and (2) the physiological health benefits to recreating in an outdoor environment.
Borel has served as the program manager for California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) since graduate school. Her role at CCUH is to coordinate and execute programs that help to enhance urban living and environmental awareness for the people of California. Her passion is sharing her love of both natural and created landscapes with the public and hopes to inspire “'eco-friendly” actions in others. Dave Fujino is the executive director and founding director of CCUH.
Borel was nominated by Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist for the UC Davis Department of Entomology; Jan Kingsbury, director of major gifts, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: and Susan Cobey, bee breeder-geneticist/researcher at the Laidlaw lab.
Citation for Excellence
Shirley Gee, a 35-year UC Davis employee, manages the Hammock research lab, which includes 30 to 40 scientists: graduate students, technicians, post graduates and visiting professors from all over the world. She was praised as being “extremely efficient and effective” and a “can-do person skilled at anticipating and solving problems in a friendly, courteous and timely manner.”
Her fellow employees fondly call her “the lab mom” in praise of her competency and friendliness. “Her input is critical to every project underway in our lab,” Hammock said. “One research project brought almost $2 million in direct costs to the campus last year; she is one of the unsung heroes who keeps this program going.”
Gee “seeks ways to help the lab and the department be successful,” the nominators wrote. She was the first research associate at UC Davis to be given principal investigator status on grants. On her own she developed a computer-based chemical and equipment inventory system in the laboratory which could be used throughout the university. Gee is also the department’s safety officer.
Gee’s work been recognized repeatedly with achievement awards and publications in peer-reviewed journals. She received her bachelor of science degree in biological sciences at UC Davis in 1973 and her master’s degree in pharmacology and toxicology at UC Davis in 1981. Her area of expertise is the development of "ELISA" (enzyme-linked immunoabsorbent assays) for pesticides and other environmental pollutants and their metabolites. Gee has trained scientists from France, Germany Japan, China, India and Australia.
Bruce Hammock, a distinguished professor of entomology, holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center. He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Program in Biotechnology and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory.
Nominating Gee for the Citation for Excellence were staff assistant Grace Bedoian and researcher Christophe Morisseau of the Hammock lab, and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, Department of Entomology.
Since 2007, ten other UC Davis Department of Entomology employees have received Citations for Excellence, including the accounting team of Yoke Dellenback and Susan Padgett, which won a Distinguished Citation for Excellence Award
Previous Department of Entomology Winners:
2010: Leslie Sandberg and Mai Nguyen, individual awards
2009: Susan Cobey and Susan Ragsdale, individual awards
2008: Jeanette Martin and Zain Syed, individual awards, and the team of Yoke Dellenback and Susan Padgett (the team won a Distinguished Citation for Excellence)
2007: Nancy Dullum and Debbie Dritz, individual awards
Other past recipients: Kathy Keatley Garvey, then with the UC Davis School of Medicine
2011 Distinguished Award Recipients
Susan McCormick – General Contributions
Clinical Laboratory Scientist
Chemistry/Hematology, Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital
Melissa "Missy" Borel - Campus Service
California Center for Urban Horticulture
Janet Brown-Simmons – Supervision
Chief Administrative Officer
Departments of Entomology, Plant Pathology and Nematology
Geology Move Team – General Contributions
Joseph Abril, Greg Baxter, Janice Fong, Amanda Isaac, Susan Lopez, Lauren Nakashima, Paul Waterstraat, Kengshi Yang and Lisa Zaragoza
Community Advising Network – Campus Service
Dr. Carolyn Bordeaux, Roxanna Boreggo, Jezzie Fullmen, Dr. Paul Kim, Dr. Renee Lopez and Dr. Romana Norton
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology