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Posts Tagged: Eli Sarnat

They Want the Weather to 'Bee Nice'

Derek Downey working in the Davis Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"The rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains,” according to a signature song in the musical, My Fair Lady.

Don’t tell that to Derek Downey, who has been trying to schedule the grand opening of the Davis Bee Sanctuary now for the past two weeks.

It appears that rain is falling mainly on the Davis Bee Sanctuary.  

A grand opening initially set March 21 and then changed to March 31 has now been re-scheduled for Sunday, April 1.

“It’s supposed to rain hard on Saturday, March 31, and be nice on Sunday, April 1,” said  Downey, who heads the Davis Bee Collective and its newly landscaped site, the Davis Bee Sanctuary.

He’s hoping the weather will “bee nice.”

The Davis Bee Collective, a community of small-scale beekeepers founded by a former UC Davis entomology graduate student Eli Sarnat, will host the grand opening of the sanctuary from 1 to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 1 on Orchard Park Drive, near The Domes student housing. The public is invited.

The open house will be an opportunity for area residents and prospective members to “come meet the beekeepers," Downey said. The event will include tours, honey tasting, a permaculture lesson covering hugelkultur (the drought-tolerant technique being used at the sanctuary), a free flower giveaway, seed exchange (bring seeds), and a presentation on native bees, which also will be sharing the sanctuary.  

A special guest speaker will be Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Also planned: a display of native bee condos from Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis.

As of March 29, six hives now occupy the Bee Sanctuary. "We have four empty hives and space for a total of 12," Downey said. The hives are decorated with such names as "Just Bee," "Bee Happy," "Birdhouse" and "the Whaler Superorganism."

"The bee sanctuary is also place for people to meditate, smell the flowers, watch the bees and hummingbirds in the trees, and learn about permaculture---we're using a drought-tolerant method of gardening called hugelkultur ("hoogle culture") which involves burying logs of different sizes under the soil," Downey said. "The wood breaks down and becomes a sponge able to hold on to a ton of water so that in summer months you don't need to irrigate very much, if at all!"

Sarnat established the Bee Collective in 2005. Downey, who received his bachelor's degree in engineering from UC Davis in 2009, joined the Bee Collective in 2005 and then founded a small beekeeping business, the Davis Bee Charmers in 2010 and the Davis Bee Sanctuary in 2011. As the founder of the Davis Bee Charmers, he catches swarms, relocates hives, and teaches beekeeping lessons to individuals and groups.

Downey invites interested persons to join the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary; information on how to join is on the Davis Wiki website at http://daviswiki.org/Davis_Bee_Collective. He moderates the Google group and adds new members. "If someone wants to just help out and learn about bees, they are always welcome to take part," he said. "We will have hives that are collectively managed so everyone can learn together. If someone wants to keep their own hive there, it is first-come, first served. We have space for 10 to 12 hives, max."

Members of the Bee Collective share resources, such as beekeeping equipment, books, and tools. Downey accepts donations for the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary (contact him at davisbeecharmers@gmail.com or (310) 694-2405). He recently received dozens of donated perennials.

Bee Sanctuary work parties are held every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the site.

Downey anticipates filling the other empty hives in the sanctuary via swarms he collects in Davis, Dixon, Sacramento, Woodland, and Winters.

Mmeanwhile, the Davis Bee Charmer is hoping the third time is the charm--for the weather to relent, that is. 

View of the Davis Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
View of the Davis Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

View of the Davis Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

If the weather cooperates, visitors to the Davis Bee Sanctuary can see foragers on the nearby blossoms. This one is on a nectarine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If the weather cooperates, visitors to the Davis Bee Sanctuary can see foragers on the nearby blossoms. This one is on a nectarine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

If the weather cooperates, visitors to the Davis Bee Sanctuary can see foragers on the nearby blossoms. This one is on a nectarine blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 10:52 PM

Davis Bee Sanctuary: The Place to 'Bee'

Honey bee at the Bee Sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
(Note: Due to a forecast of heavy rain,  the grand opening originally scheduled March 24 is now Saturday, March 31. The blog below reflects the change.)

The Davis Bee Sanctuary is the place to "bee" on Saturday, March 31.

That's when the Davis Bee Collective, a community of small-scale beekeepers founded by a former UC Davis entomology graduate student, will host the grand opening of their newly landscaped apiary, aptly named the "Davis Bee Sanctuary."

The event, open to the public, is scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. at the site on Orchard Park Drive, Davis. The main ceremony starts at 1 p.m. However, folks will be filtering in and out from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Derek Downey, a seven-year beekeeper who coordinates the Davis Bee Collective and the Davis Bee Sanctuary. 

Where is the Davis Bee Sanctuary? It's adjacent to the western edge of The Domes, a cooperative student housing community known for its dome-shaped structures. If you drive  past The Domes on Orchard Park Drive, you'll see the Bee Sanctuary at the end of the street. 

Ant specialist Eli Sarnat, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2009, founded the Davis Bee Collective in 2005. Now residing in Happy Camp, Siskiyou County, Sarnat is a postdoctoral researcher based at the University of Illinois, Urbana. And yes, he still keeps bees. He and a beekeeping partner maintain about 20 hives in Happy Camp.

His friend, Derek Downey, who received his bachelor's degree in engineering from UC Davis in 2009, joined the Bee Collective in 2005. Then in 2011, Downey founded The Bee Sanctuary as the place to keep the bees. 

Downey owns and operates a small beekeeping business, the Davis Bee Charmers; he catches swarms, relocates hives, and teaches beekeeping lessons to individuals and groups.

Among those participating in the work parties at the Bee Sanctuary, held every Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.,  are Melanie Lataste and her husband, Pierre Arrial of Nantes, France. Arrial is a postdoctoral scholar in the UC Davis Department of Geology. 

What's on tap Saturday, March 31? "Come meet the beekeepers," Downey says. The event will include tours, honey tasting, a permaculture lesson covering hugelkultur (the drought-tolerant technique being used at the sanctuary), a free flower giveaway, seed exchange (bring seeds), and a presentation on native bees, which also will be sharing the sanctuary.  

A special guest will be Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Downey invites interested persons to join the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary; information on how to join is on the Davis Wiki website. Downey moderates the Google group and adds new members. "If someone wants to just help out and learn about bees, they are always welcome to take part," he said. "We will have hives that are collectively managed so everyone can learn together. If someone wants to keep their own hive there, it is first-come, first served. We have space for 10 to 12 hives, max."

Members of the Bee Collective share resources, such as beekeeping equipment, books, and tools. Downey accepts donations for the Bee Collective and Bee Sanctuary (email him at davisbeecharmers@gmail.com). He recently received dozens of donated perennials.
 
One of the hives at the sanctuary is actually a birdhouse, or what Mussen calls "a birdhouse for wood ducks." Davis homeowners "installed it to invite birds to live in it," Downey said, but a swarm of honey bees soon claimed it. So, Downey moved the birdhouse--bees and all--into the sanctuary. 

Today (Tuesday, March 20) the bees in the birdhouse swarmed, as expected. They're now occupying a nearby hive in the sanctuary. 

Downey anticipates filling the other empty hives soon with swarms. 

Derek Downey checks out a birdhouse filled with bees. The bees swarmed March 30 and are now established in a once-vacant bee box in the sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Derek Downey checks out a birdhouse filled with bees. The bees swarmed March 30 and are now established in a once-vacant bee box in the sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Derek Downey checks out a birdhouse filled with bees. The bees swarmed March 30 and are now established in a once-vacant bee box in the sanctuary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Melanie Lataste examines a frame of honey. She  and her husband, Pierre Arrial, are new members of the Bee Collective.
Melanie Lataste examines a frame of honey. She and her husband, Pierre Arrial, are new members of the Bee Collective.

Melanie Lataste examines a frame of honey. She and her husband, Pierre Arrial, are new members of the Bee Collective.

Posted on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 10:27 PM

Know Your Ants

 

Know your ants.

If you want to identify red imported fire ants and other invasive ants found in the Pacific Island region, a newly launched Web site by an entomology graduate student at the University of California, Davis, will help you do just that.

Eli Sarnat created the interactive ant key to assist users in identifying invasive ant species commonly encountered in the Pacific Island region. The ant key includes 15 species recorded in California. These California ants include the common Argentine ant (the one you see marching up and down your kitchen), the red imported fire ant and the white-footed ant.

“This is one of the most clearly organized and informative sites I've ever seen,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. “It should be an invaluable resource for anyone needing information about pest ants in the Pacific Basin and elsewhere.”

Invasive ants threaten the native biodiversity, food security and quality of life, said Sarnat, who is researching the systematics, biogeography and conservation of ants in Fiji for his doctoral dissertation. He studies with major professor Phil Ward.

The ant key empowers professionals and non-professionals alike to identify the ants they encounter.

Sarnat compiled the guide using Lucid3 software. It covers four subfamilies, 20 genera and 44 species and includes:

  • An overview of the species
  • Diagnostic chart illustrating a unique combination of identification characters
  • Comparison chart illustrating differences among species of similar appearance
  • Video clip of the species behavior at food baits Image gallery that includes original specimen images and live images
  • Nomenclature section detailing the taxonomic history of the species
  • Links and references section for additional literature and online resources

The project was funded primarily by a cooperative agreement between UC Davis and the U. S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Plant Health Science and Technology.

Sarnat became interested in invasive ants while studying at UC Berkeley. He managed the field operations for the National Science Foundation-funded Fiji Terrestrial Arthropod Survey for a year before returning to his graduate studies at UC Davis. “My experience with the arthropod survey,” he said, “prompted me to switch my thesis To raise awareness about invasive ants in the country, Sarnat conducted a series of workshops in Fiji sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.  

The Fiji islands are a group of volcanic islands in the South Pacific, southwest of Honolulu and north of New Zealand .

“Although the workshop participants all acknowledged the danger that ants like Solenopsis invicta (red imported fire ant) and Wasmannia auropunctata (little fire ant) posed to the environments, economies and public health of Fiji,” he said, “it was clear that none of the local entomologists or quarantine officers had the taxonomic expertise to recognize the species at ports of entry.”

With funding from New Zealand 's Ministry of Forests and Agriculture, Sarnat and two other ant specialists facilitated a workshop to train quarantine officers and entomologists from 13 Pacific Island countries and territories in invasive ant taxonomy.

“I was contracted to develop an interactive identification guide that allowed non-specialists to accurately identify the most common and dangerous invasive ants,” Sarnat said.

The instructors provided each participant with a microscope, laptop and a CD of the new identification guide at the five-day workshop, held at the University of the Pacific in Suva, Fiji.

“The workshop was a great success,” he said. “The participants felt newly empowered to prevent invasive ant incursions on their islands.”

Sarnat presented the first edition of the Pacific Invasive Ant key (PIAkey) at the 1st Pacific Invasive Ant conference in Honolulu in 2007. Interest expressed by the USDA’s Center for Plant Health Science and Technology, part of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Plant Protection and Quarantine (APHIS-PPQ), led to the production of the second edition, completed in 15 months.

Sarnat said the second edition represents a significant improvement over the first edition. It features fact sheets for each species, numerous specimen images and live images, videos of the ants feeding at baits, an illustrated glossary of technical terms, and an illustrated Lucid key to 44 species of invasive ants.

“Taxonomy can be a difficult field to learn because it has traditionally been taught as a body of knowledge passed down from mentors to students or through scattered and often old literature,” he said. “One must also examine specimens that exist only in a few museums across the world.”

The most exiting aspect of PIAkey, Sarnat said, is that it empowers non-specialists—those not trained by a mentor, or with no access to old literature or far-off museum collections--to use the recent technologies of digital images, the Internet, and an interactive identification software like Lucid to make accurate identifications themselves.

Last year the Bohart Museum of Entomology published a color poster of Sarnat’s auto-montages of the heads of 12 common invasive ants. The poster, “Pacific Invasive Ants,” is available at the Bohart Museum , located at 1124 Academic Surge on the UC Davis campus or online.

Further information on Sarnat’s work is on his  Web site.

 

Argentine Ant
Argentine Ant

HEAD OF ARGENTINE ANT--This automontage of an Argentine ant is the work of Eli Sarnat at the University of California, Davis. Sarnat has just launched an interactive ant key to help professionals and non-professionals identify ants. See Web site at http://www.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/PIAkey/index.html.

Eli Sarnat
Eli Sarnat

ANT SPECIALIST--Eli Sarnat, a graduate student in the Phil Ward lab at the University of California, Davis, has just launched an interactive Web site on invasive ants of the Pacific region. The key includes 15 species recorded in California. See Web site at http://www.lucidcentral.org/keys/v3/PIAkey/index.html.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, January 12, 2009 at 5:04 PM
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