Posts Tagged: Robbin Thorp
When you visit the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis, you might just see a cuckoo bee.
The cuckoo bee (see below) is a male Triepeolus concavus, as identified by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, who maintains an office in the adjacent Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Thorp has been monitoring the garden not only since it was planted--in the fall of 2009--but BEFORE it was planted, to collect the baseline data. To date, he's detected more than 80 species of bees, "and counting."
The cuckoo bee, nectaring on a blanket flower (Gaillardia), is just one of the species he's found in the garden.
The female cuckoo bee lays her eggs in the ground nests of other bees, including the sunflower bee, Svastra. Cuckoo bees are kleptoparasites, meaning that they steal the food stores provisioned by the host bee. Cuckoos lack pollen-collecting structures (scopa). So when the cuckoo bee eggs hatch, the larva will consume the pollen ball collected by the hosts, and kill and eat the host larvae.
Like human kleptomanias, they've found a way to make it in this world at the expense of others.
Thorp annually teaches at The Bee Course, described as a "workshop offered for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees," and held at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. This year's dates are Aug. 25 to Sept. 4. The workshop attracts people from all over the world, including dozens from the UC system.
A male cuckoo bee, Triepeolus concavus, on a blanket flower (Gaillardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Male cuckoo bee sipping nectar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
We have long-horned cattle and long-horned grasshoppers. How about long-horned bees?
It's National Pollinator Week and what better time to run some photos of long-horned bees from the genus Melissodes?
These males (below) are probably Melissodes communis, according to native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.
They were nectaring on salvia (sage) in a front yard in Davis, Calf., and keeping an eye out for the girls. The girls? They were dutifully carrying nectar and pollen back to their underground nests.
Melissodes belong to the family Anthrophoridae, described as a "very large family...found in all parts of the world," according to the book, Bees of the World, written by Christopher O'Toole and Anthony Raw. Melissa is Greek for "honey bee."
These long-horned bees are part of the tribe Eucerini, found all over the world except in Australia, according to O'Toole/Raw. Melissodes is a New World genera.
One thing's for sure: these ground nesting bees are fast-flying. In the blink of an eye, they're gone.
Male long-horned bee, genus Melissodes, probably Melissodes communis, as identified by Robbin Thorp. It is on salvia (sage). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of long-horned bee, a male Melissodes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Up, up and away. Male Melissodes, long-horned bee, over salvia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's that hopping on our patio?
At first we thought it was a grasshopper. Not!
It was a katydid, sometimes called a "long-horned grasshopper," from the family Tettigoniidae (as identified by Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis).
"Katydids have long, threadlike antennae," said Kimsey. "Grasshopper antennae are rarely much longer than the head."
Said Thorp: "Note the long slender antennae (as long as or longer than the body); the very long slender jumping hind legs; and the scimitar-like ovipositor at the end of the abdomen."
Scientists tell us that the number of described species in the family Tettigoniidae exceeds 6400. Most katydids are green. They're often perfectly camouflaged in bushes and trees.
A katydid. The name is derived from the "song" it sings by rubbing its wings together. "Katy did." "Katy didn't."
This katydid, a female, responded to our footsteps. (Their "ears" or hearing organs are on their front feet.)
It hopped away, but not before we captured its image.
A katydid, or "long-horned grasshopper," from family Tettigonliidae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
But there's one thing they don't do. They don't check out the sand dunes, home of the bee villages.
Tiny holes are everywhere, yet nobody seems to notice.
They're the work of digger bees, aka faux bumble bees. These are Anthophora bomboides stanfordiana, researched by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.
"The (female) bees suck up water nearby and then regurgitate on the (faces of the) sandstone cliffs to moisten and excavate soil for the tunnels, construct their turrets, and finally to seal the nest tunnel," Thorp says. The bees use some of the soil from the base of the turret to plug the entrance.
The bee turrets are somewhat like our gated communities! Keep out!
The digger bees have "grocery stores" all around them. You'll see the males and females foraging on the wildflowers, which include yellow and blue lupine, California golden poppies, wild radish, mustard, dandelions, and seaside daises.
If you crouch next to the bee villages, a nearby hiker is likely to ask "Lose something?"
No, we found something!
A female digger bee finishes her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A digger bee scouts the landscape. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Flying low, flying fast. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sandy cliffs of Bodega Head hold bee villages. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Congrats to “The Bee Team” at the University of California, Davis.
The one-of-a-kind team, comprised of five Department of Entomology faculty members, received the coveted team award from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America (PBESA), for their collaborative work specializing in honey bees, wild bees and pollination issues through research, education and outreach.
Their service to UC Davis spans 116 years.
The “Bee Team” is comprised of Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; systematist/hymenopterist Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology who coordinated the development and installation of a landmark bee friendly garden; and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology; pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in pollination and bee biology; and biologist/apiculturist Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology who specializes in bee communication, bee behavior and bee health.
PBESA represents 11 states, seven U.S. territories, and parts of Canada and Mexico.
Thorp, who retired from the university in 1994, continues to work full-time on behalf of the bees, and has tallied 49 years of service to UC Davis. Mussen, who will retire in June of 2014, has provided 37 years of service; Kimsey, 24; Williams, 4 and Johnson, 2.
“The collaborative team exceptionally serves the university, the state, the nation, and indeed the world, in research, education and public service,” wrote nominator Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. “The Bee Team is really the ‘A’ team; no other university in the country has this one-of-a-kind expertise about managed bees, wild bees, pollination, bee health, bee identification, and bee preservation. Honey bee health is especially crucial. Since 2006 when the colony collapse disorder surfaced, we as a nation have been losing one-third of our bees annually. Some beekeepers are reporting 50 to 100 percent winter losses. The importance of bees cannot be underestimated: one-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees.”
Among those lending support to The Bee Team through letters were the Mary Delany, interim chair of the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences; AnnMaria "Ria" de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau Federation; Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and the Almond Board of California Task Force Liaison; and Mace Vaughn, pollinator conservation program director of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
The Bee Team (from left) Eric Mussen, Neal Williams, Robbin Thorp, Lynn Kimsey and Brian Johnson. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)