Staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk worked with and assisted photographer Anand Varma's needs for a year in the development of the illustrated article. Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, who retired last June after 38 years of service, served as a research fact-checker, contacted by National Geographic.
The article, authored by Charles Mann asked “Can the world's most important pollinators be saved?' and pondered “how scientists and breeders are trying to create a hardier honeybee.”
Varma's time-lapse video of 2500 images, showing the development of eggs to pupae to adults, was filmed at the Laidlaw apiary. Two still photos, of a bee in flight, and a close-up of an emerging worker bee, were also taken in the Laidlaw apiary.
In his article, Mann touches on RNAi and quotes bee researcher Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota and recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” as saying “If you target one specific area, the organism will always make an end run around it.” She advocates a “healthier, stronger” bee, or what Mann writes as “one that can fight (varroa) mites and disease on its own, without human assistance.”
Spivak was the keynote speaker at the Bee Symposium, hosted May 9 by the Honey and Pollination Center in the UC Davis Conference Center. It drew a crowd of 360.
Spivak and John Harbo of the USDA's research center in Baton Rouge, La. “both succeeded in breeding versions of hygienic bees by the late 1990s,” Mann writes. “A few years after that, scientists realized that hygienic bees are less effective as the mites grow more numerous.”
Both Spivak and Varma have presented TED talks on honey bees.
Spivak: Why Bees Are Disappearing
The event, presented by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the Department of Entomology and Nematology, will feature keynote speaker Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor, University of Minnesota and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow. Spivak will speak on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet."
The educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees, said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. In addition to the speakers, a display in the lobby will feature graduate student research posters, books, t-shirts, and the latest in beekeeping equipment. The registration, $75 general admission and $15 for students, covers the continental breakfast, lunch and post-event reception.
8 to 9 a.m.: Registration and continental breakfast
8 a.m.: Welcome and introductions by Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, and Michael Parrella, professor and chair, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
9:15 a.m.: "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet" by keynote speaker Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight Professor, University of Minnesota and a 2010 MacArthur Fellow
10 a.m.: "Sociality as Key to Understanding Responses to Pesticides in Honey Bees" by bee scientist Brian Johnson, assistant professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
10:45 a.m.: Break
11 a.m.: "Combined Effects of Viruses and Nutritional Stress on Honey Bee Health" by bee scientist Amy Toth, assistant professor, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology, Department of Entomology, Iowa State University
11:45 a.m.: Lunch in foyer. Graduate student poster presentations, and educational exhibits
1:30 p.m.: "Best Management Practices to Support Honey Bee Health," by Extension Apiculturist Elina L. Niño, Department of Entomology and Nematology
2:15 p.m.: "Lightning Round Talks." Up to eight speakers planned. Each speaker will give a 5-minute overview on a single topic
3 p.m.: Break
3:15 p.m.: "Neonicotinoids" by Nigel Raine, professor and Rebanks Family Chair in Pollinator Conservation, School of Environmental Sciences, University of Guelph; Ontario, Canada
4 p.m.: "Enhancing Forage for Bees" by pollination ecologist Neal Williams, associate professor, Department of Entomology and Nematology
4:30 p.m.: "Introduction to the Hӓagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven," by manager Christine Casey, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
4:45 p.m.: Board buses to Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for tours and closing reception
6:30 p.m.: Symposium ends
The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation has provided generous funding. To register, access this page. For more information, contact Amina Harris at email@example.com
Spivak will speak on "Helping Bees Stand on Their Own Six Feet." The symposium, set for m 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., will take place in the UC Davis Conference Center on Alumni Drive.
“This educational program is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees,” said Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center. “In addition to our speakers, there will be an active ‘Buzz Way' featuring graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants and much more.”
Among the speakers will be UC Davis honey bee scientists Brian Johnson and Elina Lastro Niño and UC Davis native-bee scientist Neal Williams, all of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and bee molecular scientist Amy Toth of the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology, Iowa State University, Ames Iowa. Also planned is a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven led by manager Christine Casey.
While at UC Davis, Toth will speak on "Molecular Evolution in Insect Societies: Insights from Genomics of Primitively Social Paper Wasps” at a seminar on May 13 in 122 Briggs Hall. This is part of the Wednesday noon-hour seminars sponsored by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
General admission is $75 and student admission is now $15 as of Feb. 2 (previously was $25). Both include a continental breakfast, lunch and post-event reception. For registration, access this page. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation is providing financial support.
Further details on the event will be announced later.
The Honey and Pollinator Center is located in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science at 392 Old Davis Road. Both the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden primarily sponsored by funds from Häagen-Dazs, are on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.