Posts Tagged: honey bee
UC Davis forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey is a genius, to be sure. Show him a fly and he'll tell you exactly what it is and what it's all about.
I shot this photo at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. The honey bee looked huge and the fly, tiny. There they were together. (Ah, if you let your imagination run wild, there's a children's book there! Once upon a time, a bee and a fly...)
The fly is a minute black scavenger fly (Scatopsidae). You see these flies around decomposing matter (in this case, dead bees). After all, worker bees live only four to six weeks in the summer. During that time, they encounter all sorts of killers, such as diseases, pesticides, parasites, stress, climate change, intruders, and the mysterious colony collapse disorder).
Kimsey, an adjunct professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is known for not only his expertise on flies and his courtroom testimony, but his award-winning teaching. I'm not sure which is the most popular: the CSI television series or Kimsey's classes. (My bet: his classes!)
When I visited a local farmers' market in late September, a UC Davis animal science major mentioned how much she enjoyed his class. "Kimsey, that's it!" she said. "Dr. Kimsey. He's really good."
He is, and he's a genius, too!
A bee meets a fly
What are insect pollinators worth to the global economy?
Well, it's a lot less than the Wall Street bailout...er...rescue plan.
Recent research published in the journal Ecological Economics reveals just how important insect pollinators are.
A Eureka Alert press release issued by the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres says that a team of French and German scientists found that the "worldwide economic value of the pollination service provided by insect pollinators, bees mainly, was $153 billion in 2005 for the main crops that feed the world."
That amounts to 9.5 percent of the total value of the world agricultural food production.
The study says that fruit and vegetables account for about a third of that total. The bee shortage has already hurt growers and consumers worldwide. Pollinator disappearance "would translate into a consumer surplus loss estimated between $190 to $310 billion," the news release says.
A Sept. 26 article in Business Week noted that "
Honey bee researchers think that stress may be one of the factors in the declining bee population. Other factors: malnutrition, diseases, pesticides, parasites and changing climates.
Colony collapse disorder, a phenomonon characterized by bees mysteriously abandoning their hives, is probably due to those multiple factors, according to UC Davis apiculturist Eric Mussen.
The declining bee population, the growing need for pollination, and the burgeoning
Bee on almond blossom
A bee on a ball.
When it flowers, the button-willow (Cephalanthus occidentalis), also known as willow buttonbush, honey ball, and button ball (oh, that’s so close to butter ball!) attracts honey bees and butterflies like you wouldn’t believe.
The ball-like flowers look like pincussions and it's fascinating to watch the honey bees buzz in and out of "the spikes."
UC Davis apiculturist Eric Mussen says it's a favorite of honey bees.
The button-willow is a small tree or bush that grows along stream beds. We spotted this one (below) on restored native pollinator habitat in Yolo County.
Back in 1931, UC Davis entomologist G. H. Vansell listed 175 species of plants as good "nectar yielders" in his still-authoritative UC publication, Nectar and Pollen Plants of California. Vansell wrote that "six of the most important sources of nectar in California are the sages (Salvia), alfalfa, orange, wild buckwheats, starthistle and Christmas berry; of these, the sages, wild buckhweats and Christmas berry are native."
Vansell mentioned that the button-willow, because of its riparian location, "is abundantly supplied with moisture and is easily 'worked' by bees."
It still is.
Heading for the Nectar
A bee on a ball