Backyard Orchard News
To help growers, packers, shippers and handlers of Central Valley crops, Carlos Crisosto, CE postharvest physiologist, Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center and the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department, published the Central Valley Postharvest Newsletter (CVPN). CVPN archives contain summarized information relevant to fresh fruit growers, packers, shippers and handlers. The archives are available from the UC KARE and UC Davis websites.
Other online resources that Crisosto recommends include:
- The UC Davis Fruit & Nut Research & Information
- A draft version of the forthcoming revision to USDA Agricultural Handbook 66 (Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables and Florist and Nursery Stocks)
- Postharvest information site of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
- World Vegetable Center Postharvest Information
- Postharvest Education Foundation (training in postharvest technology)
- Production and Handling of Avocado
- University of Florida Postharvest Group, including citrus resources
- University of Florida Citrus Resources
- California Citrus Research Board – supported research reports
- Washington State University Postharvest Information Network (emphasis on apple, pear, and cherry)
- North Carolina State University postharvest publications
- Sydney Postharvest Laboratory information
- Chain of Life Network® website with recommendations for the care, handling and marketing of floral crops
Carlos Crisosto examining a fresh market peach crop in a Central Valley orchard.
Citrus growers and Ag professionals are invited to attend the University of California Lindcove Research and Center Annual Citrus Fruit Display and Tasting Today! Friday December 13th from 9-12. More than 150 varieties will be displayed. (Sat Dec 14th we invite the homeowners to attend.)
Walking tour starts at 10 am highlighting the Citrus Clonal Protection facilities, the demonstration field trees and the Center fruit packline.
These freezing temperatures we're experiencing make us yearn for spring.
True, it's still autumn and winter doesn't officially start until Dec. 22, but it's a good time to think of honey bees pollinating the almond blossoms.
California almonds usually bloom around mid-February. We remember, however, that on Jan. 1, 2013 we spotted almonds blooming in the Benicia State Recreation Area. Guess they didn't get the message that it's not spring yet. Bees didn't get the message, either.
Then in early February we cruised over to Matthew Turner Shipyard Park, Benicia, and saw more almond blossoms and a bevy of bees flying.
Let's skip the winter solstice and head right into the vernal equinox!/span>
The freezing temperatures make us yearn for almond pollination season. This photo was taken Feb. 10, 2013 in the Matthew Turner Shipyard Park, Benicia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're looking for a cause to support, consider the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis.
The museum crew, led by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated.
They have gained a state, national and international reputation as a key source of information. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from all over the world. In addition to the insect specimens, they maintain a "live" petting zoo that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. A year-around gift shop is stocked with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, books, posters, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy.
"Every year we have new insect adventures and those head-slapping moments when you think 'insects do that, really?'" Kimsey wrote in a recent letter, adding that "2013 has been a very active year, with our staff and students strengthening our efforts to provide services and educational programs to the public. We are very proud of our dedicated group of volunteers and staff who bring insect-based programs to schools and public functions throughout northern California."
As in the past, long-time supporters Marius and Joanne Wasbauer have given the Bohart Museum another challenge grant of $5000. "They hope that their gift will inspire others to give and they will match your gift, one-for-one, up to $5000," Kimsey wrote. "Funds from the campaign will be deposited in the museum endowment, which provides invaluable operating support to the museum, its collections, programs and staff."
Folks can donate online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com.
Folks can also sign up for a sponsorship of $2500 to be eligible to participate in the Bohart's BioLegay program and will be able to name one of the new species listed on the BioLegacy website, http://biolegacy.ucdavis.edu. This contribution could also be counted toward the Wasbauer challenge grant.
The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, near the LaRue Road intersection. It's open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Special weekend hours are also offered, as are group tours. Contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at email@example.com for more information.
Noted entomologist Jerry Powell, director emeritus of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jerry Powell selects a specimen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ethan Wells, 7, of the Woodland Montessori School, delights in an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hands reach out to touch the Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology recognized it right away. He's seen or heard of many a wood duck box taken over by honey bees looking for a suitable home.
It's enough to drive the duck enthusiasts quackers.
The question came up again this week, as it periodically does. Someone asked him: "How do you keep wood duck boxes for their intended purpose?" Mussen's observations are worth repeating.
"Years ago I spent some time with a UC Davis student trying to find ways to dissuade honey bees from nesting in wood duck boxes," Mussen recalled. "They had found one box in which the female duck refused to go, so the bees built their combs right down over and around her, killing her. We tried to prevent the bees from being able to grip the top of the box, where they connect their downward-hanging combs. The Teflon tape that we used prevented them from starting at the top and building down. But, they started on the wall at a corner, build some comb up against the Teflon--yes, beeswax sticks to Teflon--then built the combs down. The stickum on the Teflon tape wasn’t good enough to keep the combs stuck to the top, so the whole thing eventually collapsed in a heap."
"We tried Insectape strips (produced by Rainbow Technology) that were supposed to repel bees and wasps from building in electric boxes. We poured the artificial 'swarms' into the boxes to see if they would be driven out by the pesticide strip. It killed them--they didn’t leave. The strips might repel a real swarm under natural conditions, but that is not how we tested it."
"It would be pretty hard to determine where the swarms originate. Right around swarm time is when many beekeepers are looking for suitable locations to build up their colonies and make 'splits.' The bees need a good supply of food for building up, and beekeepers may be moving their bees close to wood duck nesting areas for the spring nectar and pollens."
One option is placing bee boxes near the wood duck boxes to trap honey bee swarms, "especially of the boxes contain some previously used combs."
"There also is a honey bee attractant--pheromone--that can be purchased from beekeeping supply companies to entice the bees into the trap box," Mussen says. "For whatever reason, the trap hives work best at about nine feet off the ground. Some of the beekeeping supply companies also offer what look like really large flower pots with a cover. They are made of some sort of wood pulp--so they don’t really look like bee boxes. By opening a quarter-sized hole in the narrow end, the pots can be put out as trap hives and work pretty well. Despite your best intentions, however, some of the swarms just ignore the trap hives and go somewhere else. So, some will end up in the duck boxes, anyway."
What to do? Visit the wood duck boxes frequently to remove the bees before they accomplish much. "Unfortunately, once they have built some comb in the box," Mussen says, "the odor makes the box much more attractive to the next swarm."
Another issue: some folks troubled by the declining bee population insist on letting honey bees be. "We have become 'blessed' with an increasing number of individuals who believe that honey bees should be left to their own devices, to do whatever happens," he says.
So, to all those folks wanting to retain wood duck boxes for ducks, Mussen says to engage in periodic monitoring to help out their feathered, webbed buddies. That includes removing the bees.
Mussen didn't say this, but I think he meant that you don't have to get up at the "quack of dawn" to do it.
This wood duck box is being used as a bee hive in The Bee Sanctuary on the UC Davis campus. Examining it is Derek Downey who directs The Bee Collective and The Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)