Pistol packin’ mamas have nothing on honey bees.
Have you ever seen the pollen load that a honey bee carries?
What's pollen? It's the fine, powder-like material produced by the anthers of flowering plants, or the grains that contain the male reproductive cells of a seed plant.
The worker bees carry pollen in special pollen baskets on their legs. The baskets are concave surfaces fringed with bristles or curved hairs to hold the pollen in place.
Only the worker bees have pollen baskets. The queen bee and the drones (males) have none.
"Honey bees derive their protein, vitamins, minerals and some carbohydrates from pollens," UC Davis Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen writes in Bee Briefs. "Since no single pollen source provides all their nutritional needs, honey bees must have a number of pollens available to them to remain healthy and to produce the royal jelly required to feed the queen and rear brood."
Worker bees feed the brood "beebread," a mixture of nectar and pollen.
Yesterday the honey bees on the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis buzzed around the almond blossoms, gathering nectar and pollen.
It's amazing--truly amazing-how much pollen honey bees can pack in those pollen baskets.
The honey bee population is declining throughout the world, but not the interest in the art of queen rearing.
The annual class taught by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, filled up within a week and 25 are on the waiting list for next year.
It’s so popular that Cobey may teach two classes in 2010: one for commercial beekeepers and one for hobbyists.
The class, set March 17-19, includes two days of classroom and hands-on beekeeping, and an optional tour on March 19 of large scale commercial queen production facilities in northern
The class “is designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of what it takes to rear high-quality queens,” said Cobey, who accepts only 20 students per course.
Cobey, whose background includes operation of a commercial queen production and bee breeding business, will present information on bee biology and principles of queen rearing.
“The beekeepers will be involved in the various steps of the process including setting up cell builders, grafting, handling queen cells and establishing mating nucs (nucleus hives),” Cobey said. She also discuss the importance of drone production and establishing mating areas.
Her queen bee instrumental insemination classes at UC Davis draw students from throughout the world. Cobey will teach “Instrumental Insemination and Bee Breeding Workshop” April 14, 15 and 16, and the “Advanced Workshop on the Technique of Instrumental Insemination” April 22 and 23. The list of registrants includes beekeepers from
For the art of queen rearing class, it’s BYOV.
That means “bring your own veil.”
It's often mistaken for a honey bee.
It's not a honey bee. It's a hover fly or flower fly.
And this one, hovering around the plants last Saturday in the Storer Gardens at the University of California, Davis, looked like a Syrphus opinator to me.
So I asked UC Davis entomologist Robert "Bob" Bugg, who specializes in flower flies (Syrphidae), what it is.
"If I have to be an opinator, I'd opine that you're right," he quipped.
Bugg, who received his doctorate in entomology at UC Davis, does research on the biological control of insect pests, cover crops, and restoration ecology.
If you want to learn more about flower flies, read Dr. Bugg's "Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops" (Publication 8285, May 2008, University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.)
UC Davis bee specialists were well represented in a recent edition of The IPM Practitioner, which landed on our desk last week.
The edition, devoted to “Pesticides and Honey Bee Colony Collapse Disorder,” includes four photos from the UC Davis Department of Entomology. They show bee specialist Michael “Kim” Fondryk tending his bees in the Roy Gill almond orchard,
As mentioned in the publication, “The exact cause of CCD has not been determined. A CCD task force has been established and a number of possibilities are being investigated.”
Bees continue to die in alarming numbers. Some of the nation's beekeepers report losing from one-third to 100 percent of their bees due to the mysterious phenomenon known as CCD, in which all the adult bees abandon the hive, leaving behind the queen, brood and stored food.
As managing editor William Quarles says in The IPM Practitioner: "Despite our dependence on honey bees, we have lost about 45 percent of them over the past 65 years. According to the USDA, there were 5.9 million colonies in 1947 and about 2.4 million today."
Quarles, an IPM specialist who is executive director of the Bio-Integral Resource Center, suggests a nationwide monitoring program to confirm or deny the role of pesticides in CCD.
Quarle concludes: "If we do not take better care of our bees, there could be a significant impact on crop production. Some foods could become scarce and expensive. We should also treat our bees better because they are our friends, they enrich our planet, and it is the right thing to do."
Well said. Well said, indeed.
Call it serendipity. Call it a major collaborative effort. Call it a keen eye for science.
Whatever you call it, research that sprang from studies on insect pest control in the Bruce Hammock lab at the
We all know of people suffering from heart failure, which occurs when the heart can’t pump enough blood throughout the body. The condition affects 5 million people in the
The research in the laboratories of cardiologist and cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat, Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, UC Davis School of Medicine, and entomologist Bruce Hammock, Department of Entomology, showed that the new class of drugs reduces heart swelling in rat models with heart failure.
“This holds promise to treat heart failure and other cardiovascular as well as kidney problems,” said nephrology professor Robert Weiss, Department of Internal Medicine.
Similar compounds are now in clinical trials.
"The study of rat models showed that heart failure is driven by high angiotensin associated with high blood pressure, artery disease and some kidney disease,” Hammock said. “When that occurs, a key enzyme called soluble epoxide hydrolase is increased."
The 11-member research team showed they could inhibit the enzyme with a drug made by Paul Jones, a former postgraduate researcher at UC Davis. The swelling and ultimate failure of the heart is blocked and reversed, Hammock said.
“Interestingly, the increase in heart size associated with extreme exercise does not increase levels of the epoxide hydrolase, and exercise induced heart enlargement fortunately is not blocked by the drug.”
This research follows earlier studies reported from the Chiamvimonvat laboratory on cardiac hypertrophy. The two UC Davis laboratories collaborated with the laboratories of John Shyy at UC Riverside and Yi Zhu, Cardiovascular Sciences,
The paper, “Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Plays an Essential Role in Angiotensin II-Induced Cardiac Hypertrophy,” is online.
This is definitely a significant discovery that could result in saving scores of lives. And to think it all started with the Hammock lab discovering an enzyme inhibitor that regulates insect larvae development.