Posts Tagged: Norman Gary
It's nice to remember the honey bee on Valentine's Day. You'll see many Valentine cards inscribed with "Bee My Valentine" and featuring a photo of a bee.
Many of those photos depict a queen bee, the mother of all bees in the hive.
To be a queen, she'll need to be fed royal jelly as a larva. The nurses bees feed the otther larvae a regular worker diet that includes pollen.
"Queen larvae are fed royal jelly throughout larval development, providing a nutritional stimulus that causes them to develop into fully functional females with large ovaries," writes apiculturist Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, in his book, Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.
"Queens develop from egg to adult in about 16 days," Gary writes. A queen usually lives about two to three years, but most beekeepers re-queen the colony after a year.
In peak season, a queen bee will lay about 2000 eggs--so that's 2000 mouths to feed.
"A few queens live for as long as two or three years, but old queens are a liability to the colony due to diminished egg-laying capacity, a principal cause of reduced colony populations and reduced honey production," Gary says. "Their performance usually diminishes long before they die, similar to humans."
Gary also says in his book that egg-laying capability "is not the only measure of a queen's performance. Queens produce pheromones that greatly affect the activities, especially foraging activity of workers. Pheromone production diminishes in quality and quantity as queens age."
That's something that the Valentine Day cards don't tell you. Neither do they tell you that after a swarm, the first virgin queen to emerge from the series of newly constructed queen cells in the colony will sting her competitors so she can take over the hive.
Or, as Gary writes, "Rival queens engage in fierce stinging attacks until only one virgin queen remains. Virgin queens also initiate the destruction of capped queen cells containing their younger counterparts and sting them before they can complete development. This is the only time queens ever use their stingers."
Not a sweet thought on Valentine's Day!
Queen bee (with dot) and worker bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Another queen bee in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The queen and her retinue. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
We can all learn from the honey bees.
Worker bees--sisters--are like feeding machines. They not only feed each other, but feed the queen and their brothers, the drones.
It's a marvelous sight to see, nectar being passed from one bee to another.
Honey bee expert Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and a beekeeper for more than six decades, says it well in his newly published book: Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.
Gary points out that "efficient communication is the fabric of social behavior. It enables the thousands of bees in a colony to function almost as one organism--sometimes referred to as a super- or supra-organism, in which individual bees are compared to the individual cells of an organism."
Food sharing inside a hive, he writes, is "dynamic and continuous."
"A hungry bee says, in her own special way, Can you spare some food? If the behavioral answer is yes, the donor bee spreads her mandibles and discharges a droplet of honey or nectar from her honey stomach onto her mouthparts."
The hungry bee, Gary relates, "senses the food, extends her strawlike proboscis, and sucks up the food."
It's share and share alike.
Too bad the human race doesn't operate as a super organism.
Worker bees--sisters--sharing nectar at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ever seen honey bees engaging in washboarding?
It's a behavior so named because they look as if they're scrubbing clothes on a washboard or scrubbing their home.
It occurs near the entrance of the hive and only with worker bees. They go back and forth, back and forth, a kind of rocking movement. No one knows why they do it. It's one of those unexplained behaviors they've probably been doing for millions of years.
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey of the University of California, Davis and Washington State University, has witnessed washboarding scores of times. Last week the unusual behavior occurred on two of her hives at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. She hypothesizes that these bees are in the "unemployment line." It's a time when foraging isn't so good, so these bees are "sweeping the porch" for something to do, she speculates.
Emeritus professor Norman Gary of UC Davis Department of Entomology writes about it in his chapter, Activities and Behavior of Honey Bees, in the Dadant publication The Hive and the Honey Bee.
"They stand on the second and third pairs of legs and face the entrance. Their heads are bent down and the front legs are also bent," wrote Gary, who has kept bees for more than six decades. "They make 'rocking' or 'washboard' movements, thrusting their bodies forward and backward. At the same time they scrape the surface of the hive with their mandibles with a rapid shearing movement, sliding over the surface as if cleaning it."
They pick up some material and then clean their mandibles.
Gary thinks that "these rocking movements probably serve as a cleaning process by which the bees scrape and polish the surface of the hive."
Like most people, professor/biologist/bee researcher James Nieh of UC San Diego has never seen this behavior. Nieh, who recently presented at seminar at UC Davis, later commented "It is an interesting behavior that would be particularly fascinating to observe in natural colonies in trees. It does seem to involve some cleaning behavior, although it is possible that bees are depositing some olfactory compound while they are rubbing the surface with their mandibles. We are currently conducting research in my lab on the effects of bee mandibular gland secretions on foraging orientation behavior. A new set of experiments will involve examining the effect of mandibular gland secretions on bee behaviors at the nest. I will definitely consider looking at how this potential pheromone affects washboarding."
We managed to capture the behavior with our Iphone and posted it on YouTube.
It's interesting that of the some 25 research hives at the Laidlaw facility, occupants of two of Cobey's hives exhibited washboarding last week.
So, what are washboarding bees doing? Cleaning their home where pathogenic organisms might congregate, per a theory by Katie Bohrer and Jeffrey Pettis of the USDA-ARS Bee Research Lab?
Or are they just creating "busy work"--"sweeping the porch" for something to do?
It would be interesting to find out!
Honey bees engaging in washboarding behavior with "rocking" or up-and-down movements. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Foragers flying back to the hive as their sisters engage in washboarding activity on the wall, or what Susan Cobey calls "sweeping the front porch." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
James R. Carey, professor of entomology at the UC Davis Department of Entomology (the department co-sponsored the event), webcast the six talks presented by either current or retired UC Davis professors. The videos are now on UCTV; here's the link to the Honey! index page.
Did we say "free?" Free.
Carey is a firm believer that UC seminars ought to be shared with not only UC affiliates but with the general public. (Read about how and why he spearheaded the 10-campus project.)
Meanwhile, you can learn about bees from some of the country's best: two UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and one emeritus. Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen discussed "The Wonder of Honey Bees" and later presented a talk about honey and honey tasting.
Assistant professor Brian Johnson--he researches the behavior, evolution, and genetics of honey bees--covered "Honey Bee Communication: How Bees Use Teamwork to Make Honey" and emeritus professor Norman Gary, a scientist, author and professional bee wrangler, convinced us why we should consider "Hobby Beekeeping in Urban Environments." After all, he's been keeping bees for 64 years!
Then Louis Grivetti, professor emeritus in the nutrition department, strode to the podium to tell us "Historical Uses of Honey as Food"--you won't believe all the things he said in his well-researched talk! Liz Applegate, nutrition professor and director of the Sport Nutrition Program," followed with "Sweet Success: Honey for Better Health and Performance."
By the end of the day, the crowd agreed with Mussen that “Honey bees are truly marvelous.” And with Johnson who pointed out: “Bees have small brains but can solve big problems."
A nice addition: a honey-tasting contest judged by the attendees. The winner? An oh-so-good clover honey from Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies. The honey (yes, it's available for sale at the 2110 X St. business), was produced by the Jones Bee Company, Salt Lake City. Second place went to Alan Pryor of Alameda; and third place, Diane Kriletich of Paloma, Calaveras County.
“It was a sweet day all in all,” said coordinator Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of RMI.
Indeed it was!
Future beekeeper Emily Fishback with her beekeeper-father Brian Fishback of Wilton, who provided the bee observation hives. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis assistant professor Brian Johnson (left) answers a question from beekeeper Clay Ford of Vacaville. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Are you afraid of bees?
Not apiculturist Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and a professional bee wrangler.
He worked behind the scenes in a new Animal Planet program, “My Extreme Animal Phobia,” scheduled to be broadcast Friday, Nov. 11 at 10 p.m. (Sacramento area listing) on the Animal Planet Channel.
“It is a story about a man who is extremely afraid of bees,” Gary said. “He is treated successfully by various exposures to bees and consultation with a psychologist.'
Although Gary played a central role in the treatment of the man’s phobia, he may or may not appear in the program.
But the bees he trained will.
Some of the filming was done at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
According to TV Guide, the program will be repeated on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 5 a.m. and on Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 10 p.m. in the Sacramento area. See schedule.
Gary also did bee wrangling for another episode of Fear Factor, which enters a new season in December.
“Keeping bees is far more challenging than caring for common pets,” says Gary, who retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career and is the author of a newly published book on beginning beekeeping titled “Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees.”
Gary trains bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. His credits over the last 35 years include 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes”; more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno shows; six commercials, and hundreds of live Thriller Bee Shows in the Western states.
He once trained bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He holds the Guinness World record (109 bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds) for the stunt.
Norm Gary is definitely a guy who loves his bees.
Apiculturist/bee wrangler Norman Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Norm Gary, bee wrangler, loves his bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)