They should limit their hobby to two colonies, says Gary, 85, whose expertise in beekeeping, including professor, scientist, author and professional bee wrangler, spans seven decades.
“Increasing populations of bees can easily ‘overgraze' the resources,” Gary explains. “Excessive competition for limited nectar and pollen sources also threatens hundreds of native bee species, such as bumble bees, that have similar dietary requirements.”
In his newly published second edition of his book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees (Fox Chapel Publishing, East Petersburg, Pa.), he includes a chapter on “Urban Entomology” that “treads on sacred beekeeping ground by proposing a radical change to beekeeping in urban environments.”
But it's time “to recognize the realities of the urban environment and make appropriate changes in beekeeping practices,” he declares.
“The yield of honey per colony is declining significantly in urban environments,” he says. “These declines leave no doubt that overpopulation of bees in urban settings is the primary cause. Few beekeepers are aware that each bee colony consumes at least 100 pounds of honey annually, made from approximately 200 pounds of nectar! When nectar is abundant and there is good weather for foraging, a typical honey colony has the potential to produce more than 100 pounds of harvestable honey per year.”
“This is far more than typical hobby beekeepers are harvesting these days,” Gary relates. “It should be obvious that hobby beekeepers are keeping too many colonies in the typical urban environment.”
“Hobby beekeepers typically start out with one or two hives, but that often leads to several more due to their enthusiasm for keeping bees and harvesting more honey and equating the number of hives with elevating their status as beekeepers.”
In his book, he shares his beekeeping knowledge, dispels many beekeeping myths and provides science-based information. He covers such subjects as “To Beekeep or Not to Beekeep,” “The Bees' Home,” “Reproduction,” “Colony Defense and Sting Prevention” and activities inside and outside the hive.
Gary, who holds a doctorate in entomology from Cornell University, joined the UC Davis entomology faculty in 1962, retiring in 1994 after a 32-year academic career. He has authored more than 100 publications, including scientific papers, book chapters and popular articles in beekeeping trade journals.
A 70-year beekeeper--one of the longest in the nation--Gary began keeping bees at age 15 in Florida. His career includes hobby beekeeper, commercial beekeeper, deputy apiary inspector in New York, honey bee research scientist, entomology professor, author, bee wrangler and Guinness World record holder.
During his professional bee wrangler career spanning four decades, “The Bee Man” served as a consultant and bee stunt coordinator for 17 movies, 70 TV shows and six TV commercials. Among his credits: “Fried Green Tomatoes” and appearances with Johnny Carson and Jay Leno on Tonight Shows.
He launched the Thriller Bee Shows, performing more than 100 times in three western states, with venues that included the California State Fair. He drew widespread acclaim for wearing a head-to-toe suit of clustered bees while "Buzzin' with His Bee-Flat Clarinet."
Gary once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with artificial nectar. His holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt. He's also the person behind the "bee suit" record in the Guinness World Records; Gary clustered more than 87 pounds of bees on a friend.
Today, as a musician, he plays the clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, and flute with several groups, and is updating his website, http://www.normangary.com.
No more “Buzzin' with His Bee-Flat Clarinet,” though.
"Beekeeping and Management" will be part of the two-day UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's 2019 winter conference presented by its Center for Continuing Education in February 2019.
The conference, covering several vet med topics or tracks, is set for Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 9-10. The beekeeping portion is on Sunday morning, Feb. 10.
California Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will present the three seminars dealing with "Beekeeping and Management" in the Gladys Valley Hall, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
The bee schedule:
- 8:10 to 9 a.m.: "Honey Bee Biology and Apiculture Overview"
- 9:10 to 10 a.m.: "Common Issues in American Apiaries"
- 10:30 to 11:20 a.m.: "Honey Bee Bacterial Diseases and Antiobiotic Use"
Special pricing for those interested in attending only the "beekeeping track" is available, announced Saundra Wais, program manager for the Center for Continuing Professional Education. The onsite fee for this section is $45. A live webinar option is available for $40 for those who cannot be on campus, she said.
Several other tracks are scheduled, including Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), Veterinary Technician (Vet Tech), Feline Dentistry Lab, and Food Animal Reproduction and Medicine (FARM) Club. Some 20 speakers are planned.
It's all in the interest of science.
Beginning Jan. 1, Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, is sponsoring his annual “Beer for a Butterfly Contest.” The first person in the three-county area of Sacramento, Yolo and Solano who collects the first live cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, of the new year--outdoors--wins a pitcher of beer or its equivalent.
Shapiro, who maintains a research website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu, launched the contest in 1972 as part of his scientific research to record the first flight of the butterfly in the three-county area. It's a contest he usually wins. He has been defeated only four times, and all by UC Davis graduate students.
Since 1972, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20.
In 2018, he collected the winner at 11:23 a.m. Friday, Jan. 19 in one of his frequented sites—a mustard patch by railroad tracks in West Sacramento, Yolo County.
“I spotted the male butterfly dorsal basking (sunbathing) on low vegetation shortly after the first cumulous formed at 11 a.m.,” the professor remembers. “As I approached to collect it, a small cumulus occluded the sun and it closed its wings over its back--allowing me to just pick it up without using my net at all, and drop it into a glassine envelope. It turned out that that was the ONLY cloud that crossed the sun in the next two and a half hours! It got up to about 60 degrees and was a gorgeous day with a trace of a west wind.”
He described the butterfly as quite yellow instead of white. “Cold weather promotes sepiapterin formation, so early ones are often quite yellow.”
This is the eighth year since 2010 that the winning butterfly has been collected in Yolo County. In 2017, Shapiro found the winner on the UC Davis campus; in 2016, graduate student Jacob Montgomery netted the winner outside his home in west Davis, and Shapiro collected all five winners from 2012 to 2015 in West Sacramento. He found the 2011 winner in Suisun, Solano County.
Shapiro's graduate student, Adam Porter, defeated him in 1983. Two other graduate students, Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk, each won in the late 1990s.
The butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. The male is white. The female is often slightly buffy; the "underside of the hindwing and apex of the forewing may be distinctly yellow and normally have a gray cast,” Shapiro said. “The black dots and apical spot on the upperside tend to be faint or even to disappear really early in the season.”
The contest rules include:
- It must be an adult (no caterpillars or pupae) and be captured outdoors.
- It must be delivered alive to the department office, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the full data (exact time, date and location of the capture) and your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it. (If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, keep it in a refrigerator; do not freeze. A few days in the fridge will not harm it, Shapiro says.)
- Shapiro is the sole judge.
The list of winners, dates and locations since 2010:
- 2018: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento, Yolo County
- 2017: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner on the UC Davis campus
- 2016: Jan. 16: Jacob Montgomery, UC Davis graduate student, collected the winner in west Davis
- 2015: Jan. 26: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2014: Jan. 14: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2013: Jan. 21: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2012: Jan. 8: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2011: Jan. 31: Shapiro collected the winner in Suisun, Solano County
- 2010: Jan. 27: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
Shapiro has monitored butterfly population trends on a transect across central California for 46 years and records the information on his research website at http://butterfly.ucdavis.edu/. His 10 sites stretch from the Sacramento River Delta through the Sacramento Valley and Sierra Nevada mountains to the high desert of the Western Great Basin. Shapiro visits his sites every two weeks "to record what's out" from spring to fall. The largest and oldest database in North America, it was recently cited by British conservation biologist Chris Thomas in a worldwide study of insect biomass.
Shapiro, a member of the UC Davis faculty since 1971 and author of the book, Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Valley Regions, has studied a total of 163 species of butterflies in his transect.
“All my life I've known my feet didn't have the strength and capability of most of the people I knew,” she recalled.
In high school, she began experiencing severe pain. Her family physician diagnosed her as having “growing pains.”
It wasn't until after she'd retired from her 34-year career as an elementary school teacher in Concord that a neurologist correctly diagnosed her—and her brother--as having peripheral neuropathy, a disease that afflicts more than 30 million people in the United States alone. Specifically, she and her brother inherited Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy or HSAN.
Anderson's journey to learn more about peripheral neuropathy and to help others led her to co-found the Western Neuropathy Association (WNA) in Auburn in 1998, and serve as its president for the last two decades.
Her 20-year journey of hope recently led to the University of California, Davis, where distinguished professor Bruce Hammock is researching an enzyme aimed at controlling acute and neuropathic pain.
Anderson and WNA treasurer Darrell O'Sullivan, a former lab manager at the UC Davis Medical Center, recently visited the Hammock lab to present a $5000 check from the association to EicOsis, the Davis company that Hammock founded to move inhibitors of the soluble epoxide hydrolase into human clinical trials.
“We raised the money through $2,500 from our budget, and from voluntary donations from members and friends,” she said. “One member donated $1000 and asked it to be matched.”
“It was heartwarming to receive a $5000 check from this dedicated, grass-roots group,” said Hammock, whose research on the compounds spans nearly 50 years. “We are touched.”
Anderson and O'Sullivan toured Hammock's lab in Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, and discussed his research and the WNA mission and goals.
“There are medications that help the symptoms, but no cure yet,” Anderson said, adding that the Hammock discovery “may be close to a cure for some people who have pain and inflammation.”
"On behalf of EicOsis I want to thank the Western Neuropathy Association, and particularly Bev Anderson and Darryl O'Sullivan, for championing this effort," Hammock said. "Everyone at EicOsis is touched by the confidence they have put in us to develop a treatment for chronic pain. There are never guarantees in drug development, but certainly their support drives us to work hard to move this drug through FDA and on to clinical trials."
"We are, of course, working to raise support from federal agencies, venture funds and the pharmaceutical industry, but this support from Bev and her associates is heartfelt and inspiring. It illustrates what a great need there is to develop treatments for pain," Hammock said. "The fact that the support is coming from so many of the people who are suffering from pain is particularly inspiring."
"It is inspiring about how upbeat the individuals are in these organizations as they support each other and exchange approaches in dealing with pain," he pointed out. "But underlying these optimistic conversations is the reality that pain can be an overpowering factor compromising the leading a full and health life. We must find a solution to the problems of pain and neuropathy."
The clinical trials, expected to begin next year, will target chronic or neuropathic pain with a non-opiate analgesic. In parallel, Hammock and his UC Davis colleagues are developing a drug to treat a commonly fatal pain condition in horses called laminitis as well as arthritic pain in dogs and cats.
Hammock traces the history of his work to 1969 to his graduate student days in the laboratory of UC Berkeley Professor John Casida. Hammock was researching insect developmental biology and green insecticides when he and colleague Sarjeet Gill, now a distinguished professor at UC Riverside, discovered the target enzyme in mammals that regulates epoxy fatty acids.
“The work led to the discovery that many regulatory molecules are controlled as much by degradation and biosynthesis,” Hammock said. “The epoxy fatty acids control blood pressure, fibrosis, immunity, tissue growth, pain and inflammation to name a few processes.”
Peripheral neuropathy is a complex disease. It refers to “the many conditions that involve damage to the peripheral nervous system, the vast communication network that sends signals between the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord) and all other parts of the body,” according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “Best known are the signals to the muscles that tell them to contract, which is how we move, but there are different types of signals that help control everything from our heart and blood vessels, digestion, urination, sexual function, to our bones and immune system. The peripheral nerves are like the cables that connect the different parts of a computer or connect the Internet. When they malfunction, complex functions can grind to a halt.”
“There are over 150, some say over 200, known causes of neuropathy,” said Anderson, a resident of Colfax. “Diabetes is considered a chief cause. but chemotherapy and likely hereditary neuropathies are gaining on it.”
Although the peripheral neuropathy she has is HSAN, “there are10 or more hereditary types,” she said. “HSAN is unique in its early onset as I could have been diagnosed by kindergarten if medical science had been up to it then.” The neurologist who correctly diagnosed her told her she had “The neuropathy walk.”
“One aspect is that toes naturally go outward for better balance,” Anderson explained. “I call them my ‘outrigger toes.' With neuropathy, it usually starts with tingling like the foot is asleep and waking up and progresses into numbness. Pain of various types and intensities may follow. It boggles the mind to have feet so numb that surgery could be done on them without anesthesia but they still have pain. It depends on the amount of nerve damage.”
“There is a long list of other symptoms: sensory ones like feelings of hot or cold when the feet or hands are not hot or cold to the touch, deep itching, feeling like you are wearing a stocking or glove when you aren't, etc., motor ones like balance, and movement concerns, and autonomic ones that are internal as all internal organs are operated by peripheral nervous system. Blood pressure, kidney function, urinary tract, digestive system, sexual feelings, etc. are affected by the health of the nerves.”
Anderson noted that neuropathy “usually starts in the longest nerve which is the one that goes to the toes. When the progress gets up to the knees, it may start in the fingers and hands as that is now about the same length. However, it may also start in the hands if the injury that causes the neuropathy is in the cervical spine area initially. “
The mission of WNA, comprised of 500 members and many other attendees in California, Oregon and Nevada, is “to provide support, information and referral to people with neuropathy and to those who care about them, to inform and connect with the health care community and to support research,” Anderson said. The all-volunteer organization seeks to establish and develop support groups in as many cities as possible.
Highly honored for his work, Hammock is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Inventors. He received an outstanding achievement award from the international Eicosanoid Research Foundation at its 2017 meeting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where he delivered a plenary lecture on “Control of Acute and Neuropathic Pain by Inhibiting the Hydrolysis of Epoxy Fatty Acid Chemical Mediators: Path to the Clinic.”
Hammock's career took him from UC Berkeley to the U.S. Army Academy of Health Science in San Antonio, Texas; to a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship at Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and to UC Riverside, where he served as an assistant and associate professor before he joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980. He holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Center for Cancer Research.
Hammock collaborates with scientists worldwide in unprecedented research with a multidisciplinary, integrated approach to research focused on insect biology, mammalian enzymology, and analytical chemistry. He has authored more than 1000 publications on a wide range of topics in entomology, biochemistry, analytical and environmental chemistry in high quality journals. In the epoxide hydrolase field, the Hammock laboratory has published almost 900 peer-reviewed papers.
“For many years Sarjeet and I were alone in studying this enzyme and pathway but now its importance is well recognized in mammalian biology with over 17,000 peer reviewed papers in the area,” Hammock said. “The importance of this pathway is now clear.”
The Hammock laboratory is the home of the UC Davis/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Superfund Program. The laboratory has generated more than 80 patents, 300 postdoctoral fellows, and more than 65 graduates, who now hold positions of distinction in academia, industry and government.
“It is always important to realize that the most significant translational science we do in the university is fundamental science,” said Hammock. “The extreme and poorly treated pain that I observed as a medical officer in a burn clinic in the Army, is a major driver for me to translate this knowledge to help patients with severe pain. Hopefully, we can start human clinical trials next year.”
Bev Anderson and fellow members of WNA hope so, too. It's been a long journey, from misdiagnosis to rays of hope to bursts of optimism.
The two-year research, led by Ola Lundin, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Neal Williams lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, details what plants proved most attractive to honey bees, wild bees and other pollinators, as well as what drew such natural enemies as predators and parasitic wasps.
The research, “Identifying Native Plants for Coordinated Habitat Management of Arthropod Pollinators, Herbivores and Natural Enemies,” is co-authored by Williams, professor of entomology and a Chancellor's Fellow at UC Davis; and project specialist Kimiora Ward of the Williams lab.
“I hope this study can inform selection of plants that support pollinators and natural enemies without enhancing potential pests,” said Lundin, first-author of the paper and now a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala.
“Planting wildflowers is a key strategy promoted nationally to support wild and managed bees,” said Williams. “Successful adoption of these plantings in agricultural landscapes will require that they not only support pollinators but that they also avoid supporting too many pests. Plant selection going forward will need to balance multiple goals of pollinators pest management and other functions. This research is a first step on the path to identifying plants that will meet these goals."
The three scientists, who conceived the ideas and developed the methodology for the research project, established 43 plant species in a garden experiment on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. They selected plant species that were drought-tolerant; native to California (except for buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum, known to attract natural enemies and widely used in conservation biological control); and, as a group, covered a range of flowering periods throughout the season.
“For early season bloom, Great Valley phacelia (Phacelia ciliata) was a real winner in terms of being attractive for both wild bees and honey bees,” Lundin said. “Elegant Clarkia (Clarkia unguiculata) flowers in late spring and was the clearly most attractive plant for honey bees across the dataset. The related Fort Miller Clarkia (C. williamsonii) was also quite attractive for honey bees and had the added benefit that a lot of minute pirate bugs visited the flowers.”
Lundin said that common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) “attracted “attracted the highest numbers of parasitic wasps but also many herbivores, including Lygus bugs.”
“In general a lot of parasitic wasps were found on Asteraceae species (the daisy family) and this was a somewhat surprising result considering that they have narrow corollas, and for parasitic wasps relatively deep corollas that can restrict their direct access to nectar. Under the very dry conditions in late summer, Great Valley gumplant (Grindelia camporum) and Vinegarweed (Trichostema lanceolatum) both performed well and attracted high numbers of wild bees.”
The team found that across plant species, herbivore, predator and parasitic wasp abundances were “positively correlated,” and “honey bee abundance correlated negatively to herbivore abundance.”
The take-home message is that “if you're a gardener or other type of land manager, what you'd likely prefer would be a mix of some of the most promising plant species taking into account their individual attractiveness for these arthropod groups, plus several more factors including costs for seed when planting larger areas,” Lundin said.
“Plant choice can also depend on how you weigh the importance of each arthropod group and whether you are interested in spring, summer or season-long bloom,” Lundin added. Those are some of the questions that the Williams lab plans to explore in future projects.
Williams praised the “uniquely capable team that came together.”
“Ola is an emerging leader in considering integrated management of pests and pollinators and Kimiora is a known expert in developing regionally-relevant plant materials to support pollinators,” Williams said. “They and some talented UC Davis undergraduates--notably Katherine Borchardt and Anna Britzman--compiled a tremendously useful study.”
The overall aim of the study “was to identify California native plants, and more generally plant traits, suitable for coordinated habitat management of arthropod pollinators, herbivores and natural enemies and promote integrated ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes,” the researchers wrote.
More specifically, they asked:
- Which native plants among our candidate set attract the highest abundances of wild bees, honeybees, herbivores, predators, and parasitic wasps,
- If the total abundances of arthropods within these functional groups across plant speacies are related to the peak flowering week, floral area, or flower type of the focal plant species, and
- If the total abundances of arthropods within these functional groups are correlated to each other across plant species.
“A first critical step for design and implementation of multifunctional plantings that promote beneficial arthropods while controlling insect pests is to identify suitable plant species to use,” the authors wrote in their abstract. “We aimed to identify California native plants and, more generally, plant traits suitable for the coordinated management of pollinators (wild bees and honey bees), insect herbivores and arthropod natural enemies (predators and parasitic wasps).”
At the time, the Laidlaw grounds included nearly 50 bee colonies: some 20 to 40 honey bee colonies, and eight managed research colonies of the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenkii.
The project received funding from the USDA Resources Conservation Service, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a Swedish foundation for scientific research, the Carl Tryggers Stiftelse for Vetenskaplig Forskning.