Posts Tagged: Bees
“Truth or Myth: Neonicotinoids and Their Impact on Pollinators: What Is the Science-Based Research?”
That's the topic of a special conference – open to the public – set from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 9 at the UC Davis Conference Center, 550 Alumni Lane. UC Davis professors, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources researchers and state officials will be presenters, announced conference coordinator Dave Fujino, director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture.
Neonicotinoids, recently implicated in the worldwide die-off of pollinators, including honey bees, are a class of neuro-active insecticides chemically similar to nicotine. Considered important in the control of many significant agricultural and veterinary pests, they target the central nervous system of insects, resulting in paralysis and death. “Neonics,” as they're called, are commonly used on farms, and around homes, schools and city landscapes.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will provide an overview of the current use of neonicotinoids and the role of honey bees in California agriculture. Six other speakers are scheduled, along with a panel discussion.
The speakers include:
- Brian Leahy, director of the California Department of Pesticide Regulation, who will discuss “California Pesticide Regulation of Neonicotinoids”
- Nick Condos, director of the Plant Health and Pest Prevention Services Division, California Department of Food and Agriculture, “Neonicotinoid Risks Associated with Invasive Species Management”
- Karen Jetter, associate project economist, UC Agricultural Issues Center, “Trends in Neonicotinoid Usage in California Agriculture and the Control of Invasive Species”
- Margaret “Rei” Scampavia, a doctoral candidate who studies with major professors Neal Williams and Ed Lewis of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, “Past Neonicotinoid and Bee Research”
- Elina Lastro Niño, Extension apiculturist based at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, “Current Neonicotinoid and Bee Research.”
After lunch, a panel will discuss neonicotinoid issues and concerns. The panel is:
- James A. Bethke, UC ANR Cooperative Extension, San Diego
- Aaron Dillion, California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers & Four Winds Growers
- Ron Jarvis, The Home Depot
- Darryl Ramoutar, Scotts Miracle-Gro Company
- Nasser Dean, Bayer CropScience
- Gene Brandi, American BeeKeeping Federation
The California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) will co-host the event with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Sponsors include California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers (CANGC), a trade organization founded in 1911 to promote and protect the California nursery industry; Four Winds Growers, based in Winters, Calif.; Scotts Miracle-Gro, a company headquartered in Marysville, Ohio, and known as the world's largest marketer of branded consumer lawn and garden products; and Monrovia, a horticultural craftsmen company headquartered in Azusa, Calif.
At the close of the conference, Fujino will preside over a panel discussion on neonicotinoid issues and concerns. Questions and answers from the audience will follow. The panel is to include a UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor, and representatives from the California Association of Nurseries and Garden Centers, Home Depot, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bayer CropScience and the American Beekeeping Federation.
The registration fee of $50 will include lunch, as well as the post-conference social hour. To register, access the CCHU website at http://ccuh.ucdavis.edu/public/copy_of_public/neonicotinoid-pollinator-conference-2015/neonic or contact CCUH representative Kate Lincoln at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-6642.
The European Union recently adopted a proposal to restrict the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) for a period of two years. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that by January 2016, it will ban the use of seeds treated with neonicotinoid pesticides and the use of crops improved through biotechnology throughout the 150 million acres managed by the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
"We see clearly what a bust cycle looks like," said Mark Battany, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources viticulture and soils advisor in SLO County. "Ranchers have no choice but to sell off their cows and rebuild the herd when the rain comes back."
Sahagun reported that ranchers in the area have suffered severe drought for centuries.
"During a drought that ended in 1864, some ranchers drove their herds off cliffs and into the ocean below to stop their suffering," the article said.
The current drought is leaving landowners few options. The county placed a two-year moratorium on new agriculture that depending on the aquifer, so rangeland can't be converted to vineyards at the moment.
"Ranchers are getting hit hard from every direction," said Royce Larsen, UC ANR natural resource watershed advisor in SLO County. "It's a grim and desperate outlook."
Other news over the weekend included:
Holy S***! Almonds require a ton of bees
Tom Philpott, Mother Jones, May 25, 2015
Growing almonds in California takes about 1.7 million bee hives, drawing a large fraction of the nation's available bee hives. Why don't they stay in California? The state is already home to 500,000 of the nation's 2.7 million hives, said Eric Mussen, UC ANR specialist emeritus based at UC Davis. The almond bloom is great for a few weeks, but in terms of year-round foraging, "California is already at or near its carrying capacity for honeybees," he said.
Farm Beat: Here is how hikers, cattle can coexist
John Holland, Modesto Bee, May 22, 2015
UC ANR released a five-page brochure last month that shows how hikers and other visitors can avoid conflicts with cattle that graze on public land. Cattle fatten up nicely when they can graze calmly – good for the rancher and good for the buyer of the meat down the line, the story said.
The birds, which numbered in the millions 100 years ago, are now down to about 145,000 in all. One reason for the decline, the article said, is the agricultural harvest. Before agriculture dominated the landscape, the birds nested in the valley floor's native tules, shrubs and grasses. The birds adapted to nesting in the vast fields of wheat, oats and other crops grown to feed dairy cattle. However, when the crop is harvested, many birds are caught up in the equipment, said Robert Meese, a researcher in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at UC Davis.
The USDA is working with dairy owners to protect the young birds and some dairy operators are voluntarily delaying harvest until the baby birds can fly away, the article said.
In San Diego, the Board of Supervisors is coming to the aid of the state's ailing bee population, said an article by Mark Walker in the San Diego Union-Tribune. The board has voted to open up county land for beekeepers who are finding it hard to place bees in areas where they can forage for nectar.
The county wants to foster more beekeeping in the face of dwindling populations from the mysterious colony collapse disorder. More hives could help honey production and farmers who need bees for their crops, the article said.
Another insect - this one a pest - is the subject of stunning photos in a recent National Geographic feature. Photographer Sam Droege of the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center captured a shot of an Asian citrus psyllid pierced by the tip of a needle that shows every tiny hair on its legs and every lens of a bulging red eye.
The article reviewed some of the research now underway to prevent the spread of huanglongbing disease of citrus, a tree killing scourge that is spread by Asian citrus psyllid. Among the possible solutions are breeding Asian citrus psyllids that can't carry the disease, genetically modifying citrus to be resident and introducing natural enemies of the pest.
One natural enemy under study at UC Riverside, Tamarixia radiata, appears in a photo that's part of the NatGeo spread. The image, by David Littschwager, shows an army of Tamarixia radiata with translucent yellow abdomens artfully back lit. The wasps were first collected in Pakistan by UC entomologist Mark Hoddle, who traveled to the Middle East to collect psyllid predators in their native range. Before being approved for biocontrol use, Tamarixia underwent a lengthy USDA evaluation intended to ensure that it wouldn't harm any native psyllids. It is now being released in ACP-infested citrus trees, where they are being carefully monitored for year-to-year survival.
About 35 percent of the food we eat depends on the assistance of bees to pollinate plants and trees so they will produce fruit, nuts or vegetables. It takes 1.6 million colonies of honey bees to pollinate California's 800,000 acres of almond trees.
Our food choices would be dramatically reduced if bees weren't around to pollinate. To illustrate what the produce section of a grocery store would look like in a world without bees, Whole Foods Market removed the products that depend on pollination from one of its stores and took a photo. See the difference: http://ucanr.tumblr.com/post/84164840510/kqedscience-whole-foods-shows-customers-the. Without bees, more than half the fruits and vegetables were eliminated.
Honey bees and other pollinators are being threatened by the drought, disease, mites, loss of habitat and food sources, according to Eric Mussen, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Davis and bee expert.
Beth Grafton-Cardwell, UC Cooperative Extension specialist in the Department of Entomology at UC Riverside and director of Lindcove Research and Extension Center, talks about the role of pollinators in California agriculture in this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8suOt5PnzWc&feature=youtu.be.
To see photos of different kinds of pollinators and to learn more about how to help them thrive, visit our pollinator page. On May 8, help count the pollinators in your community and add them to the map at http://beascientist.ucanr.edu.
“I'll be holding a precious resource in my hands, one that is essential to life on earth,” says Allen-Diaz. “I'll be placing my hands in Norm's hands to raise awareness about the value of honeybees.”
While raising money for education is certainly a worthy goal, as Allen-Diaz says, the event also draws attention to the plight of our most important agricultural pollinator. In 2006, a number of beekeepers in the Western U.S. noticed their hives had lost 30 to 70 percent of their worker bees. The phenomenon, now known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), is still not fully understood, though a number of factors are believed to be involved. They include habitat loss or degradation and fragmentation, poor nutrition, certain bee management and agricultural practices, natural and chemical toxins, diseases, and parasites. Any one of these factors can affect the insects' ability to combat any of the others. Isolating a single cause, if there is one, has proved elusive.
Many of the fruits and vegetables on the tables of the world are pollinated by insects, particularly bees, and if they were to disappear, our sources of plant food would be restricted to grains and not too much else. It's no wonder CCD is such a concern (for example, see the United Nations Environmental Program 2010 report on Global Bee Colony Disorder and USDA, Honey Bees and Colony Collapse Disorder.
As human population grows and becomes more urban, and as habitats get more fragmented, it is no longer adequate to focus conservation efforts merely in non-urban, non-working landscapes.
“We need to figure out how to accommodate as many native species as possible in these kinds of places,” says Patrick Huber of the City of Davis Open Space and Habitat Commission, which has adopted pollinator habitat enhancement as a working goal. The Commission is working to compile a GIS dataset of known big patches of habitat in Davis, in order map pollinator resources around town.
Huber is a geographer in the Landscape Analysis and Systems Research lab at UC Davis, where he focuses on spatial scale in conservation planning. He is working on a tool to help match gardeners with plants that will grow well in their regions, that are locally available, and that provide a network of resources for pollinators throughout the urban landscape and on into the agricultural landscape. For the moment this project is being piloted in Davis, but the hope is to expand it to other communities, tying in resources such as CalFlora.
- Planning for succession blooming (in the Central Valley, that means late winter through fall)
- Putting plants in clumps at least 4 feet long if possible (honeybees, especially, like to specialize)
- Putting in plants that provide both nectar and pollen (nectar is fuel for adult bees, pollen is protein for the young)
- Using native plants where possible; they're drought tolerant and have what our native bees need
- Avoiding most-toxic pesticides and herbicides
- Providing a clean source of water (a slow-dripping tap on a sloped surface is ideal; bees like to drink from very shallow sources)
- Providing cavity nest holes in wood for carpenter and other bees
- Leaving some areas of gardens unmulched for ground-nesting bees
There are ways the agricultural landscape can be made more hospitable, too. Neal Williams, professor of entomology at UC Davis, has been working on a project to install 600- to 800-meter plots of flowering plants alongside large fields as resources for pollinators. This has moved out of the trial phase into test plots in coastal and foothill areas as well as in the Central Valley.
Meanwhile, we can all help count our pollinators on May 8, the Day of Science and Service to celebrate 100 years of Cooperative Extension in California. We'll be conducting our own pollinator count here outside the ANR building in Davis: join us, or let us know about yours!
Many thanks to Kathy Keatley Garvey for use of her photos.