Posts Tagged: Briggs Hall
Eagle-eyed Carol Nickles saw it first.
The graduate student coordinator for the UC Davis Department of Entomology spotted the bee swarm from a third-floor window of Briggs Hall.
There it was, swaying on a tree branch, about 25 feet above the ground.
A bee swarm, shaped like a bowling pin, but about 2.5 or 3 feet long.
What exactly is a bee swarm? The late Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), noted bee geneticist-breeder at UC Davis, defined it as "a cluster of worker bees with or without drones and a queen, that has left the hive." The bees often cluster on a tree limb while the "scouts" search for a suitable home.
This particular swarm may be offspring from the bee observation hive located in 122 Briggs Hall for the past several months. Every April the folks at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, located west of campus, set up a bee observation hive for UC Davis Picnic Day. Thousands of social folks check out these little social insects. This is a social network more fascinating than Facebook, Twitter, My Space and Linked In combined.
You can watch the colony at work behind glassed walls. You can see the queen laying eggs, the nursemaids caring for the pending offspring, the royal attendants feeding and grooming the queen bee, and the architects and construction workers building the comb. Other bees are processing pollen into bee bread and converting nectar into honey. Meanwhile, workers are returning from their foraging trips and performing their trademark "waggle dances," letting their sisters know where they've been, where to go and how to get there.
As new offspring emerge (21 days for an egg to become an adult), the hive becomes overcrowded and congested. The end result: bee swarms, a natural part of their life cycle and one of nature's wonders.
The bee swarm at Briggs will probably move by tomorrow morning, says UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Michael "Kim" Fondrk.
"By noon," he estimates, "they'll be gone."
If you attend the 95th annual UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 18 and stop by Briggs Hall between 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you'll get a taste of honey.
In fact, six tastes of honey.
Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, a 32-year member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, will provide six different flavors of honey: Eastern buckhweat, redwood forest, orange blossom, California sage, Northwest raspberry and Georgia gallberry.
Here's the procedure: you scoop up six toothpicks, one per honey sample. You dip a toothpick into a container of honey (no double-dipping!) and then you discard the toothpick..
The darker honeys are Eastern buckwheat, redwood forest and Georgia gallberry; medium color, Northwest raspberry; and the lighter ones are orange blossom and California sage.
You can almost catch the buzz as you taste the honey. Honey differs in flavor and color, depending on the nectar source (blossoms) that the honey bees visit. Some 300 different varieties of honey are available for sale in the United States. In general, the lighter the color, the milder the flavor.
For more information on honey, visit the National Honey Board's Web site.
Questions about bees? Colony collapse disorder? Bee behavior? Queen bees, worker bees and drones? Why beekeepers wear light-colored clothing and don't eat bananas before visiting the hive? Mussen will be happy to answer them.
Honey bee on sage
That’s what it was.
But it was more than that, too.
Every year, Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, wages a water balloon battle for faculty, researchers, graduate students, staff, family and friends.
It takes place on the lawn, north side of Briggs Hall, near his basement lab and offices. We like to kid around that he’s located on the “garden level” of Briggs. When Hammock hosts Bruce’s Big Balloon Battle at Briggs, it becomes the “water level.”
This year (Friday, Aug. 15) they filled 2500 water balloons and then threw them at one another. Every year when the water balloons are all gone, they empty the buckets—which really makes for some nice photos. I’m glad Bruce Hammock can be so accommodating!
“Nobody can beat Bruce Hammock at water balloons,” said former administrative assistant Jeanette Martin, who returned for the big balloon battle.
The Hammock lab works hard and plays hard.
Bruce Dupree Hammock just won the 2008 UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching; he was nominated for his "dedication to his students, his interdisciplinary thrust, and his scientific and professional career guidance."
“This award is one of the most prestigious granted on the UC Davis campus and recognizes consistent outstanding teaching and commitment to student success,” said Krishnan Nambiar, chair of the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award Committee in a letter to Hammock nominator Michael Denison, professor of environmental toxicology.
Chemical ecologist Walter Leal, professor of entomology at UC Davis, described Hammock as an excellent teacher and mentor. “I can unequivocally tell you that teaching is Dr. Hammock’s passion. He considers teaching the most important role of his university career...He motivates, encourages and inspires, molding a whole new generation of scientists who are discovering ways to benefit humankind.”
Hammock is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and holds a joint appointment in Cancer Research with the UC Davis Medical Center. He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, as well as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Training Program in Biotechnology, and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory.
In the last five years Hammock has hosted more than 40 postdoctoral fellows or senior scientists. He has helped train future entomologists, biochemists, engineers, chemists and biologists.
You could say he also trains them to be water warriors.
Make that water warriors, extraordinaire.
Christophe Morisseau and Karen Wagner
Jun Yang and Junaid ur Rehman
"Water Warrior" Bruce Hammock
Moment of impact