Latest News from the Bug Blog
A welcome gift, indeed.
We placed our two little beneficial buddies on a yellow rose rose bush, "Sparkle and Shine," purchased last year during the Rose Weekend sponsored by the UC Davis-based California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), part of the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
"Eat," we said. "Eat aphids."
Ladybugs don't always do what they're told. Sometimes they fly away.
However, the yellow roses are gorgeous. They remind me of "The Yellow Rose of Texas," a song--and flower--so loved by my Texas-born mother. "So pretty," she'd say.
Which bring us to this: CCHU's 2014 Rose Weekend is set Saturday, May 3 and Sunday, May 4 at the Foundation Plant Services, 455 Hopkins Road, UC Davis. CCHU kindly hosts this fundraiser just before Mother's Day to make gift-giving easier. The two-day event includes rose sales, bus tours of the Foundation Plant Services' eight acres of roses, and informational sessions on roses--everything you've always wanted to know about roses but didn't know who to ask.
Admission is free. Also free: a rose for each guest while supplies last. In addition, CCHU will offer for sale copies of the popular UC IPM book, "Healthy Roses." The bus tours of the eight-acre rose field will take place every 30 minutes, from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., both Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday, May 3:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Rose sale
12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Rose field tours
10 a.m. to 11 a.m.: Peter Boyd, noted Rosarian
11 a.m. to noon: Christian Bedard, rose breeder
--UC Master Gardeners' booth for questions and answers
--Rose Tissue Culture Information Booth
Sunday, May 4:
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.,: Rose sale
12:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Rose field tours
UC Master Gardeners' booth for questions and answers
The colors? Among them: Luscious reds, brilliant golds, and pure-as-the-driven-snow whites. You can download an online catalog to help you with your selections. Some roses are All-American Rose Selections (AARS). To be selected, a rose is evaluated for two years under no-spray conditions, and must meet strict criteria for superior disease resistance, fragrance and flower color, according to CCHU director Dave Fujino and program manager Anne Schellman.
They're also provided a handy rose dictionary on their website for those unfamiliar with roses:
English-style roses: Roses with dense petals that possess a strong fragrance. David Austin roses are English roses.
Floribunda: Medium-sized flowers in a “spray” of blossoms. Compact plants that are smaller and “bushier” than hybrid teas.
Grandiflora: Largest rose plant, has hybrid tea-style roses in small clusters of 3-5. Stems can be used for cutting.
Hybrid tea: One large flower per stem. Plant is medium to tall. Stems can be used for cutting.
Polyantha: A bushy plant with vibrant flowers
Whether they're English-style, floribundas, grandifloras, hybrid teas, or polyanthas, everything will be coming up roses on May 3 and 4.
A ladybug foraging on a yellow rose, Sparkle Shine. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeepers and almond growers are concerned--and rightfully so--about the some 80,000 bee colonies that died this year in the San Joaquin Valley almond orchards. In monetary terms, that's a loss of about $180,000. But the loss isn't just financial. It could have long-term effects.
Beekeepers believe that pesticides killed their bees after the almond pollination season ended but just before they could move their bees to another site. This is a serious blow to both industries. Growers need the bees to pollinate their almonds. Now some beekeepers are vowing this is it; they'll never to return for another almond pollination season.
"When should the colonies be allowed to leave the orchards?" he asks. "When pollination no longer is happening. That does not mean that the bees should remain in place until the last petal falls from the last blossom."
"Why might beekeepers desire to move their hives out of the orchards 'early?' Once the almonds no longer provide nectar and pollen for the bees, the bees find replacement sources of food. Unfortunately, those sources may be contaminated with pesticides that almond growers would never use when the bees are present. Some common pests that surge right near the end of almond bloom include Egyptian alfalfa weevil larvae and aphids in alfalfa, and grape cutworms in vineyards. Delayed dormant sprays sometimes are being applied in other deciduous fruit orchards, even when the trees are in bloom. Often blooming weeds in the crops are attracting honey bees. If the year is really dry, the bees may be attracted to sugary secretions of aphids and other sucking bugs."
Mussen says it's "not difficult to see that accidental bee poisonings often happen. Despite our California regulations requiring beekeepers to be notified of applications of bee-toxic chemicals within a mile of the apiaries, bees fly up to four miles from their hives to find food and water. That is an area of 50 square miles in which they may find clean or contaminated food sources. Thus, growers whose fields are 'nowhere near' any known apiary locations may accidentally kill many bees with chemical applications."
"It seems," Mussen says, "that a combination of exposures of colonies to truly bee-toxic insecticides, followed by delayed effects of exposure to fungicide/IGR mixes during bloom, really set the bees way behind. The problem proved so severe that a number of beekeepers stated that they were never returning to California for almond pollination. That is not a good thing, since we really don't have too many colonies coming to almonds as it is."
In his newsletter, Mussen goes into depth about when and how bees pollinate the almonds and what could be causing the problem and how it can be resolved.
His take-home message? "Our honey bees cannot continue to be exposed to as many toxic agricultural products as they are, or we will not have enough bees to fill the pollination demand for our nuts, fruits, vegetable, forage and seed crops."
That's serious business.
A honey bee packing pollen as it forages on almonds. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Almond growers need bees. Without bees, there would be no almonds. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Could it be--a bee?
Yes, that's the metallic green sweat bee, also called an ultra green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. This one (below) is a female. Males and females are easily distinguishable. The female is all green, from head to thorax to abdomen, while the male (right) is green on the head and thorax but not on the abdomen.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, talked about them at the recent UC Davis Pollinator Gardening Workshop, sponsored by the California Center for Urban Horticulture.
The Agapostemon are members of the Halictinae family. They are "often called sweat bees because in hot weather they are attracted to human perspiration, which they lap up, probably for the salt it contains," according to the book, Bees of the World, by Christopher O'Toole and Christopher Raw.
Some of the family's many genera, including Agapostemon, are restricted to the New World. Halictus and Lasioglossum "are common to the Old and New Worlds," the authors write.
Coreopsis, also called tickseed or coreopsis, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae.
We spotted the female metallic green sweat bee at the Loch Lomond Marina, San Rafael. We captured the image of the male several years ago on a seaside daisy at the Mostly Natives Nursery, Tomales.
Green sweat bees will be among the bees featured in the book, "California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists," to be published in the fall of 2014 by Heyday Press. It's the work of Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley; Robbin Thorp of UC Davis; photographer Rollin Coville of the Bay Area; and Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley. It will contain nearly 30 of the most common bee genera in California.
Frankie, Thorp, Coville and Ertter (and others) also published "Native Bees Are a Rich Natural Resource in Urban California Gardens" in California Agriculture.
Female metallic green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus, on coreopsis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Female metallic green sweat bee peers at the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You wouldn't know it if you were to visit the two rapini patches in front of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
“The bees love the rapini,” said Laidlaw manager and staff research associate Billy Synk, who planted the seeds given him by Project Apis m.
Project apis m., a moniker derived from Apis mellifera, the scientific name of the European honey bee, funds and directs research to enhance the health and vitality of honey bee colonies while improving crop production. It's based in Paso Robles, Calif. Take a look at the organization's website: "We've infused over $2.5 million into bee research since our inception in 2006 to provide growers with healthier bees resulting in better pollination and increased crop yields. We have personal relationships with the nation's commercial beekeepers and with the top bee scientists in the country."
"We fund research studies, purchase equipment for bee labs at our universities, support graduate students and provide scholarships to young bee scientists to encourage their pursuit of science-based solutions to honey bee challenges."
Its eight-member board includes beekeepers and industry leaders. Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of UC Davis is a longtime scientific advisor.
And rapini? It's a green cruciferous vegetable from the mustard family. The leaves, buds and stems are edible and often served in restaurants throughout the world. If you were in Italy, you'd eat the cimi di rapa or rapini. In Naples, it's known as friarielli and sometimes broccoli di rapa, according to Wikipedia. If you were in Rome, broccoletti. And in Portugal and Spain, grelos.
The bees know it as simply food for their colonies. Good stuff. (In addition to rapini, PAm encourages folks to plant lovers, vetch, allysum, and native wildflowers as bee pasture.)
One thing's for certain: If you plan to participate in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' pollinator count for a three-minute period on Thursday, May 8 your eyes will tire from counting all the bees in the rapini!
Like to participate? See the UC ANR's website, Day of Science and Service. You can also photograph pollinators and post the images on the website for all to see and enjoy.
A honey bee foraging on rapini at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee takes a liking to the rapini. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Multi-tasking honey bee cleaning its tongue and packing its pollen load. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A large pollen load. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Debra Jamison, state regent of the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. loves bees. So when it came time to select a fundraising project, she knew what she wanted to do.
Jamison adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support honey bee research and enhance honey bee environments to help the beleaguered bees.
Jamison, whose first name means “bee” in Hebrew, says she's had a lifelong “love and respect for bees.” Her project? She chose to help bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis, and support the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, owned and maintained by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Last year Jamison and her fellow members of the California State Society donated $30,000 to bee scientist Brian Johnson. Then this year they gifted $15,000 to the garden, which was planted in 2009 as a year-around food resource for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators. It also serves to create public awareness for the plight of bees, and as an educational garden, where visitors can glean ideas for their own gardens.
The check was presented at a “lunch-with-the-bees” celebration organized by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Some 125 DAR members, some from as far away as Chico and San Diego, dined beneath a canopy of olive trees bordering the road.
“We appreciate this more than we can say,” said Ed Lewis, professor and vice chair of the department--and whose mother belongs to DAR.
On behalf of the department, haven manager Christine Casey accepted the check from Jamison and Karen Montgomery of Modesto, the state regent's project chair. The department used some of the funds to purchase two benches. Other projects will include a shade structure in the Growers Grove section and more bee habitat.
Honey bees prefaced the American Revolutionary War (1765-1783) by 143 years. European colonists brought the honey bee to Jamestown colony, Virginia, in 1622. Descendants of the American Revolutionary War formed DAR in 1890.
“Our 114 chapters and 15 districts have worked diligently to educate members, children, and the public about the plight of bees,” Jamison said. “This outreach has been truly outstanding. Add to that the phenomenal fundraising efforts. I truly thought that when I brought this project before the members that they might think, ‘Eeeeeuuuu, creepy insect, and weird state regent.'
Jamison singled out several DAR members for special recognition. She praised Karen Montgomery, state chair of the project and member of the Major Hugh Moss Chapter, Modesto, and committee members Susan Montgomery of the Major Hugh Moss Chapter; and Diane Groome, Carol Vercellino and Sharon Paukkert, all of the José Maria Amador Chapter, Pleasanton. “Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your work to raise funds for this project,” Jamison said
Jamison presented certificates of appreciation to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and communication specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology for their work in helping DAR with the two-year project.
"Bee Patriotic” rally towels decorated each table. Last year Jamison's rally towels were lettered with “Bee-lieve in the Power of DAR." All those attending the March 28th luncheon received a “I Bee-long to DAR” recyclable grocery bag.
The crowd toured the haven and ended the day with hearing bee presentations in the Laidlaw facility conference room.
Mussen talked about the life cycle of bees and the issues bees face: malnutrition, pesticides, pests, parasites, diseases and stress. Malnutrition, Mussen said, is a bigger problem now than colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive. An active colony of honey bees requires an acre-equivalent of mixed blooms, daily, to meet their nutritional needs.
Mussen urged the DAR members to plant for bees, especially plants that normally bloom in late summer and fall, or delay plantings so that they result in late summer/fall blossoms. Good plant lists, he said, can be found on the UC Davis Entomology and Nematology's bee biology website (see Honey Bees), and on the Xerces website, under “Pollinator Conservation Resource Center.”
Mussen also warned that simply because certain pesticides are labeled for use in organic gardening does not mean that they are less dangerous for non-target insects, particularly pollinators. Also, insecticides that are watered into the soil and move from the roots, systemically throughout the plants, are secreted in the nectar and pollens when the treated plants bloom.
“We are just studying certain mixes of fungicides, insect growth regulators, and newer adjuvants that can cause serious damage to honey bee brood, even though that information is not on the labels,” Mussen said.
In thanking the DAR members Johnson said the $30,000 will cover a two-year period of graduate student research. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.
The haven is open from dawn to dusk every day. Admission is free. To commemorate National Public Gardens Day, a special event (free) will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Friday, May 9. It will include a guide tour at 6 p.m. and a give-away of sunflower seeds (while they last).
Debra Jamison (left), state regent, and Gayle Mooney, state treasurer, share a bench that the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased for the UC Davis bee garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
DAR members celebrating the bees beneath the olive trees on Bee Biology Road. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)