Posts Tagged: Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility
Honey isn't always amber-colored.
It can range from white to dark brown, depending on the flowers the bees visit.
Back in 1971, a group of UC Davis bee specialists wrote a booklet, Fundamentals of California Beekeeping, published by the "University of California College of Agriculture." Although now 37 years old, it's still a good source of information in many respects.
The authors included UC Davis faculty members Harry H. Laidlaw (for whom the bee biology facility at UC Davis is named), Robbin Thorp, Norman Gary and Lee Watkins. UC Davis Extension apiculurist Ward Stanger served as the editor, consulting with Len Foote, then supervisor of apiary inspection for the State Department of Agriculture.
"Hundreds of species of California plants yield pollen or nectar, but the most important plants for commercial nectar are alfalfa, oranges, cotton, beans, sages (black, sonoma, white and white leaf), yellow starthistle, wild buckwheats, manzanita, eucalyptus and blue curls," the authors wrote. "Extensive use of herbicides to control yellow starthistle has decidedly reduced its pasturage in California. Alfalfa, oranges, cotton and beans present a hazard for bees because of pesticides used on them."
The book also mentions the toxicity of California buckeye (Aesculus californica). It blooms in May and June and is very attractive to bees.
"...bees feeding on its pollen are believed to produce larval food (pollen and honey) which results in malformed adults," the authors pointed out.
Yellow starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis) deserves special mention. Growers hate it and beekeepers love it. It's an exotic, invasive weed that's well established in California. It blooms from May to October.
The honey? It's white to extra light amber and delicious.
So, buckeye is attractive to bees but bad for them, and yellow starthistle is bad for farmers but good for beekeepers.
That's something to think about when you're spreading honey on your freshly baked roll or dribbling it over your pancakes.
It's all about the bees.
When A. G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the newly selected State Apiary Board meet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, they'll talk about the troubled bee business, tour the facility, elect new officers, and listen to research presentations.
Members of the apiary board are all beekeepers. The five members represent the state's major geographical regions. They are Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, president of the California State Beekeepers' Association; Leroy Brant of Oakdale; Lyle Johnston of Madera; Steve Godlin of Visalia; and Richard Ashurst of Westmorland. They will each serve a four-year term. The UC Davis liaison is apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and a Cooperative Extension bee specialist since 1976.
If there's ever been an industry under attack, it's the apiary industry. The bees are subjected to stress, parasites, diseases, pesticides, malnutrition, climate change, and that mysterious phenomonen known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives..
Meanwhile, the United States is facing its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The new "buzz words" include mortgage meltdowns, skyrocketing fuel prices, diving stocks, and crumbling financial institutions.
But there's another "buzz" that should grab our attention: the bees.
Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the food we eat. They pollinate more than 90 fruit, vegetable and nut crops, including apples, strawberries, cherries, peaches, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds.
As state legislators agreed when they formed the apiary board: "A healthy and vibrant apiary industry is important to the economy and welfare of the state" and the industry's "promotion and protection is in the interest of the people of the state of Califonria."
It is indeed.
Ever wonder why the stink bug stinks?
The stink bug, from the family Pentamodae, is a shield-shaped insect that tomato growers would love to ban from the face of this earth.
Some 50 species exist in California. The adults are either brown or green. Most stink bugs are plant feeders. However, the species of one subfamily prey on other insects, according to the excellent guidebook, California Insects, written by Jerry A. Powell and Charles L. Hogue and published by the University of California Press.
When a group of us from the UC Davis Department of Entomology worked the soil today at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central UC Davis campus, we encountered several lizards, lots of centipedes and ladybeetles, and several stink bugs.
So, how did the stink bug get its name? It stinks when it's disturbed. It emits a powerful odor from its thoracic glands to ward off predators.
The stink bugs we unearthed didn't stink. Guess we didn't disturb them enough!