No, not a donor organ, tree, or a smile.
In this case, the gift was for generations of honey bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
During a pollinator education program, employees of Valent U.S.A. Corporation, based in Walnut Creek, wanted to do something significant, something that would help the troubled bee population, and something that would promote team building.
So more than 270 employees engaged in a beehive building exercise, constructing 26 Langstroth bee hives. They recently delivered them to the Laidlaw facility where bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and staff research associate/Laidlaw manager Billy Synk, all of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, gratefully accepted them.
The gift is valued at $4290. Said Mussen: “This is an incredible gift."
“They did a good job,” said Fondrk, who provided workshop tips on how to build the bee boxes, using the right materials and specifications.
“We are thrilled to donate these hives to the Laidlaw facility,” said Meg Brodman, manager of marketing communications for Valent. “We recognize the incredible work being done by your organization and we thank you for your commitment to supporting the needs of America’s farmers through pollinator research, particularly in California, where we are also headquartered.”
“Pollinator safety,” she said, “continues to be a focus within our organization, and we at Valent, along with our counterparts in crop protection, are keenly focused on efforts that will support education and research for pollinator safety in agriculture.”
The bee boxes will be used beginning in the spring of 2014, just in time for the seasonal population build-up. In the peak season, each hive will hold some 60,000 bees. Brian Johnson, assistant professor, keeps his research bees at the apiary; his lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution, and health of honey bees. Fondrk, who also keeps his bees in a nearby apiary, manages the research bees of Robert E. Page Jr., emeritus professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Johnson and associate professor Neal Williams, pollination ecologist, are co-directors of the Laidlaw facility.
Making the trek to UC Davis were Eric Tamichi, manager of registration and regulatory affairs; Linda Obrestad, regulatory division; and Brodman.
Brodman described Valent as a “growing crop protecting company, offering a diverse line of conventional and biorational products, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicide, seed protection and plant growth regulators that protect agricultural crops, enhance crop yields, improve food quality, beautify the environment and safeguard public health.”
As for the bees, a few buzzed down to investigate their new homes as the crew wheeled the boxes into the building.
His appointment, pending Arizona Board of Regents’ approval, begins Dec. 5.
“As its chief academic officer, Page will provide leadership to all ASU campuses and academic programs, fostering global distinction in teaching, research and service to the community," according to an ASU press release. “Page will guide ASU’s mission to achieve its vision of the New American University by positioning the university at the national forefront of academic excellence and accessibility. Page also will represent ASU to external agencies and constituencies and engage in its fundraising initiatives.”
ASU President Michael M. Crow praised Page as “the perfect person to help move the university forward on the path set by Provost Phillips toward academic excellence and student-centric education. Since coming to ASU, he has embraced and embodied all of the qualities of the New American University. His own scholastic rigor combined with his leadership in transcending disciplinary divides to further knowledge, research and educational reform that impact the public good makes him ideally suited to direct our academic aspirations.”
Page, who studies the evolution of complex social behavior in honey bees, from genes to societies, received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1980, and served as an assistant professor at Ohio State University before joining the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1989. He chaired the department for five years, from 1999 to 2004 when ASU recruited him as the founding director and dean of the School of Life Sciences, an academic unit within CLAS. He organized three departments—biology, microbiology and botany, totaling more than 600 faculty, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff--into one unified school.
Recognized as one of the world’s foremost honey bee geneticists, Page is a highly cited entomologist who has authored more than 230 research papers and articles centered on Africanized bees, genetics and evolution of social organization, sex determination and division of labor in insect societies. His work on the self-organizing regulatory networks of honey bees is featured in his new book, The Spirit of the Hive: The Mechanisms of Social Evolution, published in June 2013 by Harvard University Press.
Page continues to keep bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis; they are managed by staff research associate/beekeeper Michael “Kim” Fondrk.
As vice provost and dean of CLAS, beginning in July 2011, Page was responsible for student academic affairs, faculty development and research promotion, as well as planning and implementation of degree programs for a college with an enrollment of more than 20,000 students. He also has overseen budgeting, planning, fundraising and personnel decisions.
“For nearly a decade, I have been energized and inspired by President Crow’s vision for transforming ASU,” said Page in the ASU news release. “Today’s modern universities must become agents of change, capable of profoundly impacting our quality of life by developing students into socially aware, critically thinking citizens. As university provost, I look forward to continuing the work of Provost Phillips in helping shape the metamorphosis of this great university.”
As founding director of SOLS, Page established the school as a platform for discovery in the biomedical, genomic, and evolutionary and environmental sciences. He also founded the Social Insect Research Group and ASU Honey Bee Research Facility, which have attracted top researchers in social insect studies to the university.
An internationally recognized scholar, Page was elected to the Leopoldina-the German National Academy of Sciences, the longest continuing academy in the world. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Brazilian Academy of Science, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Entomological Society of America, and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Wiko), or Institute for Advanced Study. His awards include the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Scientist Award, the highest honor given by the German government to foreign scientists.
“The University Senate welcomes the opportunity to work with Dr. Robert Page as the new provost of the university,” said Thomas Schildgen, president of the University Senate in the ASU news release. “The senate recognizes his exemplary record of scholarship and publication, his distinguished international research work, along with his successful administrative experience as the key factors that define his ability to advance Arizona State University. The University Senate represents shared faculty governance and will work with Provost Page to advance the mission of the institution.”
(Michael Crow of Arizona State University contributed to this news release.)
“From the first moment I opened a hive and held a full frame of brood covered with bees, I was in utopia,” he said. “Everything came together. In my hand I held the essence of core family values.”
That was in 2008.
Now he shares his knowledge with beekeepers-to-be, beginning beekeepers and veteran beekeepers, and gives presentations at schools and public events.
One of his next projects is teaching a class on “Introduction to Beekeeping” from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 28, 2012 at the Soil Born Farms' American River Ranch at 2140 Chase Drive, Rancho Cordova. Pre-registration is under way at (916) 363-9685.
Fishback will introduce the class to the basics of beekeeping, life in the honey bee colony, equipment and tools, swarming, pests and diseases “and what it takes to get started.” He will offer both classroom and field instruction and provide an “Introduction to Beekeeping booklet.”
Back in 2008, he and his wife Darla purchased a ranch in Wilton, renamed the BD Ranch and Apiary (www.beesarelife.com), to pursue a self-sustaining life. “I catapulted into this way of life, knowing that honey bees would provide us with pollination as well as a natural sweetener,” Fishback recalled.
Like a nurse bee tending brood, he dived into the project head first—joining the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association, reading books, and talking to beekeepers.
He acknowledges that his first year of keeping bees was a rough one. “I had 40 percent losses due to colony collapse disorder (CCD),” Fishback said. “I was determined to research more into the contributing factors of CCD and how I could raise bees successfully without having to use harsh chemicals to treat them.
“My quest as well as my passion with honey bees led me to become the president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and become a member of the California State Beekeepers' Association. This allowed me to delve deeper into working with others at all levels of beekeeping and research.”
Fishback has helped out at events such as the California Agriculture Day at the state capitol and at state and county fairs. His interest in research led him to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and other UC Davis bee specialists.
In the fall of 2010, his began volunteering at the Laidlaw facility.
“It's a privilege” to work with bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey and beekeeper/research associate Elizabeth Frost at the Laidlaw facility, Fishback said, “and still have time to share my knowledge in community outreach efforts.” He assists Cobey with her queen rearing classes and instrumental insemination classes, and also with her field trips to commercial breeders.
Fishback continues his outreach programs “to encourage interest in honey bees and to share the importance of the honey bee to our environment and our food supply.” When he gives his presentations in schools, he brings along a bee observation hive, where the youths can single out the queen bee, workers and drones.
“I allow anyone or any group with an interest agriculture, small-scale farming and of course, beekeeping, to take a day tour of my ranch, get in a bee suit and feel joy that life has to offer,” Fishback said.
Contact: Brian Fishback at firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVIS—A newly launched University of California Web site promises to be a one-stop site for information about honey bees and native bees, UC Davis officials said today.
The bee biology site, the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility Web site, is online at http://beebiology.ucdavis.edu. The facility is located on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
“Our new Web site will allow us to provide information to the public about bees, answer questions, and highlight our studies and discoveries about bees and their importance in the environment,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology who is coordinating activities at the Laidlaw facility. She also directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology on campus.
The Web site includes sections on research, outreach, publications, news, events, faculty and researchers, honey bees, native bees, pollination, instruction and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It also includes a photo gallery, kids' zone and links to bee sources throughout the world. A special FAQ section is devoted to commonly asked questions.
The honey bee expert team includes Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; bee breeder-geneticist M. Kim Fondrk; and Häagen-Dazs postdoctoral scholar Michelle Flenniken, an insect virus researcher
The native bee team includes pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology.
“The Web site will be content rich,” said communication specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey, editor, photographer and Web developer. “We'll be expanding the content to offer the most informative, up-to-date information about honey bees and other bees.”
The site includes videos on honey bees and bumble bees. Of special interest is the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden east of the Laidlaw Facility on Bee Biology Road. To open to the public Oct. 16, it will provide a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators, and an educational experience for visitors who can glean information on how to plant a bee friendly garden.
Bee biologist Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003) was known as “the father of honey genetics.” He grew up in the southeastern United States and worked as a beekeeper with his grandfather, Charles Quinn. They experimented with mating queen bees and controlled breeding and developed what became known as the Quinn-Laidlaw hand-mating method.
Laidlaw completed his master's degree in entomology in 1934 from Louisiana State University and received his doctorate in genetics and entomology form the University of Wisconsin in 1939.
Laidlaw retired as a professor of entomology in 1974 but continued his research and outreach efforts. He published his last scientific paper at age 87 and his last book at 90. In 2001, the UC Davis Bee Biology Laboratory was renamed the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The declining honey bee population and the increasing need for honey bee research prompted her to raise $733 and donate it to the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis. To earn the money, she sold jars of honey, baked goods featuring honey, beeswax candles, olive oil, soap and a self-penned booklet about the plight of honey bees.
Sheridan and her parents, Craig and Annika Miller and sister, Annelie, 8, recently traveled from their home in Marin County to the department's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road to deliver an oversized check and to take a tour of the facility.
“It's very thoughtful and generous of a little girl to think of the plight of the honey bees and to raise funds for research,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. “We are overwhelmed.”
Said Cooperative Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976: “I really appreciate the fact that so many members of the general public have become concerned about the plight of honey bees. I am particularly impressed by individuals such as Sheridan who have devoted so much time and effort in really trying to improve the health and longevity of the honey bees.”
The young author, a fifth grader, sold the booklet for $7, with all proceeds going for honey bee research at the Laidlaw facility.
“I learned about bees in the fourth grade and then did research on the Internet,” Sheridan said. She gleaned information from the UC Davis Department of Entomology Web site (http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/) and the Haagen-Dazs Web site (www.helpthehoneybees.com), launched in February 2008 to create awareness for the plight of the honey bee. A neighbor provided her with honey to sell. At a bake sale, Sheridan raised funds by selling a variety of food and non-food items and also took orders for her booklets. Sister Annelie assisted with the fundraising.
“Honey bees pollinate delicious fruits, vegetables and even nuts,” Sheridan wrote in her booklet. “If they were to disappear, our food source would consist of wheat, rice and corn.”
She included an Albert Einstein quote: “If bees were to disappear off the surface of the earth, mankind would have but four years to live.”
Her father, a San Francisco-based lawyer, and her mother, a tutor and former teacher, were delighted to see their daughter carry through with her project. “She learned a lot about honey bees in the process,” Annika said.
The Millers learned even more about honey bees on their trip to UC Davis. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility, and Kimsey guided them through the Laidlaw facility and apiary.
Cobey opened a hive and showed the Millers the queen bee, worker bees (females) and drones and let them sample honey. Cobey also broke off a chunk of recently drawn beeswax comb for them to examine and take home.
Sheridan presented Kimsey with a copy of her booklet, which points out that “UC Davis has been actively researching honey bees for 76 years.”
The booklet lists 20 bee facts, including:
--The honey bee has been around for 30 million years
--The average honey bee will only make one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime
--It takes about 556 workers to gather one pound of honey from about 2 million flowers
--Worker honey bees are females, live 6 to 8 weeks and do all the work
--Honey bees will usually travel only 3 miles from their hive
The recipes in the booklet showcase honey as a key ingredient. They include Honey Oatmeal Muffins, Honey Crispies, Honey Banana Bread, Honey Nut Bread, and Honey and Lemon Green Tea Cupcakes and Honey Breadsticks.
If you bake with honey, Sheridan wrote, “please buy only local, organic honey that has not been shipped. Thank you.”
Sheridan now hopes others will join the cause to “save the bees.” Her booklet lists ways to help: Plant a bee friendly garden; try buying only organic fruits and vegetables; never use pesticides for gardens; and become a backyard beekeeper.
A backyard beekeeper? That's her next goal.
“I'd like a hive for my backyard,” Sheridan said.