Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
It's critical issue.
Mussen, an Extension apiculturist based at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology since 1976, says malnutrition is a major factor in the declining bee population. That, along with pesticides, pests, diseases and stress.
"You, no doubt, have lost track of how many times I have stated that malnutrition is a leading factor in our unacceptable annual bee colony loss numbers," Mussen writes in the latest edition of his bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, available free on his website.
"I have also stated innummerable times that our synthesized bee diets just cannot match the value of nutrients obtained by bees from a mixture of quality pollens. My concern has been that although we have a very good idea of the protein requirements for honey bees, the rations of essential amino acids honey bees require, and their required vitamins and minerals, etc., we still cannot feed bees on our best diets and keep them alive more than two months in confinement."
"Thus, we are missing some very critical components in our synthesized diets. If we could find those components, could we formulate a diet that would sustain bees in a healthy condition during 'feedlot beekeeping'?"
Mussen touches on a recent study that shows a component in honey, p-coumarin, stimulates "the honey bee immune system to work better."
However, it's not the honey that's doing this.
"Actually," Mussen says, "that chemical is a contaminant of honey that comes from pollen grains that are mixed into the honey during the bees' processing cycle. Thus, the bees need only to consume the pollen to obtain the desired results. How many other minor chemicals are there in pollens that are so useful to honey bee health?"
You'll want to read what he says about floral pollens containing microbes. "If these microbes are really so important to the nutritional needs of honey bees, what are we doing when we introduce antibiotics and fungicides into the system?"
Bottom line: we need more research to see what's going on with pesticide exposures and reduced microbial levels.
Or as Mussen says: "As researchers continue to try to improve upon our supplemental bee feeds, they have to consider the possibility of inoculating a semisold formulation of the diet with fresh pollen and stored pollen so that a natural microbial complex can do its things and make the food appropriately fit for consumption by honey bees."
Honey bee foraging on a tidy tips wildflower, Layia platyglossa. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee pollinating nectarine blossoms. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee packing pollen while foraging on an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
As summer nears its end, the honey bees are hungry.
That's why Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology advocates that we plant flowers for late summer and fall to help the bees. Often we think of spring as the season for planting bee plants, but mid- to late summer and fall is when they really need our help.
Malnutrition is one of the factors suspected in colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious malardy in which adult bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, immature brood and food stores. Other factors in the declining bee population include pesticides, pests, diseases and stress.
If you look around, you'll see bees foraging in Northern California on blanket flower (Gaillardia), sedum (family Crassulaceae) and late-blooming towers of jewels (Echium wildpretii).
And the lavenders, salvias (sages) and the mints.
Current resources? The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation features plant lists on its site. The UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab maintains a wealth of information about plants and pollinators on its site. There's even a Bee Smart app, offered free by the Pollinator Partnership, that will enable you to browse through about 1000 native plants.
Some of my favorite honey bee plants: the lavenders, the salvias, sunflowers, catmint, sedum, blanket flowers, oregano, artichoke, zinnias, cosmos, borage, bush germander, buckwheat, basil, ceanothus, coneflowers, seaside daisies, red hot poker, and of course, the tower of jewels, which, in height, towers over them all.
A honey bee foraging on a blanket flower, Gaillardia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee on a blanket flower (Gaillardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading toward a tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ever seen honey bees foraging for water on your outdoor clothesline?
When Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, addresses beekeeping associations, he tells them to "always provide water for your bees on your property. Otherwise, they will visit the neighbor's hanging laundry, bird bath, swamp cooler, dog dish, leaky hose connection, etc."
Bees collect nectar, pollen, propolis (plant resin) and water for their colonies. On very hot days, you'll see scores of bees at a water fountain, bird bath, or pond.
Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in his book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden: "A summer colony needs at least a quart (liter) of water every day, and even more when it's warm."
Flottum points out: "Water is as necessary to your bees as it is to your pets and to you. Whatever watering technique you choose for your bees, the goal is to provide a continuous supply of fresh water. This means while you are on vacation for a couple of weeks, when you get busy and forget to check, and especially when it's really, really hot--bees always need water."
With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees today in Yolo and Solano counties, that's good advice.
Mussen and Flottum acknowledge that bees are industrious and will find water somewhere even if their regular source is unavailable. "Water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey when producing larval food, for evaporation cooling during warm weather, and for a cool drink on a hot day," Flottum writes in his book.
We've watched bees gathering water from our bird bath. We've seen hawks, doves, squirrels, crows, finches and bees sipping water there--as well as our cat, Xena the Warrior Princess. Not all at the same time, though! The Cooper's Hawk reigns supreme.
At the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, bees can sip water from a slanted board propped against a slowly dripping faucet, or from the specially designed watering devices at the nearby Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden that doubles as an educational resource.
Bees know exactly where to return for the same water source. "Foragers seem to seek water sources that are scented," Flottum says.
This could be from a roadside ditch, storm drain, fish pond, dog dish or bird bath.
"Foragers will mark unscented sources of water with their Nasonov pheromone so others can locate the source too," Flottum writes.
Flottum's book is one of the "must-have" books for a beekeeper's library or for anyone wanting to learn more about bees.
You can read more about bees in Mussen's newsletters, from the UC apiaries, posted on his website.
A Carniolan honey bee sipping water from a fountain. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A yellowjacket joins honey bees in seeking water. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee, caught in flight, ready to join her sisters in gathering water. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
So, get ready for Bee-a-Thon 3!
The free multimedia event will begin online with a series of videos about honey bees and other members of the Microcosm, including videos created by Brady and clips from previous Bee-a-Thons.
UC Davis will be represented by Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Mussen, a member of the department since 1976, is world-renowned for his honey bee expertise. Ullman is the associate dean of undergraduate academic programs in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a professor of entomology.
Billick is a self-described rock artist whose work has been shown throughout the world. She created the "Miss Bee Haven" ceramic mosaic sculpture in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, and the sign that graces the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Among the others to be interviewed will be Kim Flottum, longtime editor of Bee Culture magazine; Ria de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau; Eddie Dunbar, founder of the Insect Sciences Museum of California; Celeste Ets-Hokin, creator of the Pollinator Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland; and Mike Somers, state director of Pesticide Watch and the Pesticide Watch Education Fund.
The schedule includes:
- a pollination fundraising luncheon, with a honey-inspired menu, from noon to 1 p.m. at Monticello Seasonal Cuisine, 630 G St. (not broadcast).
- fruit presentations from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at the Davis Food Co-Op, 620 G St.; (not broadcast)
- a live broadcast from 2 to 4 p.m. on Davis Community Television public access Channel 15
- a radio/video feed from KDRT, 95.7 FM, from 4 to 6 p.m.
- BATMAP (Bee-a-Thon Monster After Party) billed as the world’s first Pollinator Party from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Davis Media Access, 1623 Fifth St., and featuring music by Eminent Bee. Admission is free, but guests must come adorned as an insect, spider or flower.
- a lounge chat from 10 p.m. to midnight at deVere’s Irish Pub, 217 E St.
Brady says the art-science event is designed to ignite a community about the full story about honey bees and other pollinators — "not just the science, but the art, the anthropology, the technology and design, the pop culture."
“The interdependence we have with insects — especially bees — is profound and complex and most people are only discussing half the story," said Brady, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hiram (Ohio) College. "The key word is biocomplexity — how human behavior fits into the global ecology. It’s also about how insects inspire and amaze our society. That will all be covered on the show.”
Brady described the Bee-a-Thon as timely; Time magazine just published a cover story on “beepocalpyse.”
We know Emmet Brady to be passionate about honey bees. And we know that the Bee-a-Thon will be educational, informative and entertaining.
When Brady talks about the "wonderful world of pollinators," he's thinking of the simple things we take for granted, the ABCs, if you will.
A honey bee on an Apple.
A honey bee on a Begonia.
A honey bee on a Cucumber.
Honey bee on an apple blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a begonia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee on a cucumber blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
As the guests dined on seafood, yellowjackets dined on bits of protein left behind.
The half-filled glasses were there to draw the yellowjackets away from the picnic tables. Don't know what was in the plastic glasses, but whatever it was, it did not kill them. It just slowed them down. A little. They jumped in, swam around, and climbed out.
Yellowjackets (genera Vespula) are pests.
"Defensive behavior increases as the season progresses and colony populations become larger while food becomes scarcer," wrote authors Eric Mussen of Uc Davis and Michael Rust of UC Riverside in the newly updated UC IPM Pest Note, Yellowjackets and Other Social Wasps.
"In fall, foraging yellowjackets are primarily scavengers, and they start to show up at picnics and barbecues, around garbage cans, at dishes of dog or cat food placed outside, and where ripe or overripe fruit are accessible. At certain times and places, the number of scavenger wasps can be quite large."
Yes, indeed. Uninvited guests are likely to join your picnic.
The ones we observed were Vespula pensylvanica, commonly referred to as "meat bees" because they like meat, including the hamburgers, hot dogs and other protein you serve at your picnic and at other outdoor outings. They also like sugary drinks.
An excerpt from the Pest Note:
"Usually stinging behavior is encountered at nesting sites, but sometimes scavenging yellowjackets will sting if someone tries to swat them away from a potential food source. When scavenging at picnics or other outdoor meals, wasps will crawl into soda cans and can sting your lips or the inside of your mouth or throat."
Want to know more about yellowjackets and other social wasps? Access or download the Pest Note.
Yellowjackets are attracted to this plastic container. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of yellow jackets. They soon climbed out and flew away. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)