- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Those are a few of the hands-on activities that will take place in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's insect booth in the Floriculture Building during the May 8-11 Dixon May Fair. The fairgrounds are located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Entomologists, researchers, beekeepers and honey experts will be among those staffing the booth and answering questions from fairgoers.
The interactive exhibit will include a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; specimens and live insects from the Bohart Museum of Entomology; insect posters from the recent UC Davis Picnic Day, and information about the Honey and Pollination Center.
Entomologist Jeff Smith of Rocklin, a 27-year volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, will be at the fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can hold a 22-year-old rose-haired tarantula, one of the most popular insects at the Bohart Museum open houses. Other live insects are scheduled to include Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
Smith worked in pest management for two years and then worked for Univar USA for the next 35, up to his retirement in 2013. Univar is the leading national supplier of the full range of pest control products to the professional pest management industries. Twenty-three of those years were in sales and the last 12 years with the E-business group, creating resources and training on the website PestWeb.com. Smith has written many training manuals and taught thousands of classes in pest management.
Now he fully pursues his passion for Lepidoptera (a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies), with the Bohart Museum of Entomology, where he has managed and improved the Lepidoptera collection for the past 27 years as a volunteer. He studied and collected insects on 10 excursions to Latin American rainforest areas.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the global home of nearly eight million insect specimens. Exhibits at the Dixon May Fair will focus on wing diversity; insects of California (10 orders (includes dragonflies and true bugs), butterflies and other insects of the world, and predators and parasites.
Among others scheduled to participate are:
Billy Synk, staff research associate and manager of the Laidlaw facility. He will provide the bee observation hive, where visitors can look through the glass and find the queen bee, worker bees and drones and observe colony activity. He will answer questions from fairgoers from 11 to 4 p.m. Friday, May 9.
Cameron Jasper, a graduate student in the lab of Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology. He studies the genetic basis of division of labor in the honey bee. He is scheduled to be at the booth from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, May 9. Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bee.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. She will be at the fair from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 10 and help youngsters make bee/flower puppets.
The Honey and Pollination Center showcases the importance of honey and pollination s through education and research. The center works with all aspects of the beekeeping industry, including agriculture, grocers and chefs, beekeepers and future beekeepers, urban homesteaders and students.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology was ranked No. 1 in the country, in rankings released in 2007 by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The ratings have not been updated.