UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Joaquin County

Posts Tagged: honey bee

How Are These Two Alike?

What does a bee have in common with a bulldog?

If you've ever been to Cornerstone Sonoma on Arnold Drive (Highway 121) in Sonoma, and admired the luxurious gardens and intriguing shops, you know. The bees go head-first in the blossoms and Axel, an English bulldog, goes head-first in a bucket.

Bees and blossoms. Bulldog and bucket. You pick.

Axel, the mascot at one of the shops, Artefact Design and Salvage, likes to play tug-of-war or keep-a-way with a bucket. That's the only thing on his bucket list: the bucket. For the bees, four items are on their bucket list: nectar, pollen, propolis and water.

Cornerstone Sonoma, smack-dab in Wine Country, is not really meant for bees and a bulldog. It's home to more than 20 artistic gardens, the creations of renowned landscape architects and designers. It's also the site of thought-provoking indoor and outdoor art.  Visitors frequent the art galleries, wineries and a restaurant.

However, we go for the bees and the blossoms, and then for the bulldog and his bucket.

It's a win-win situation with the bees, but not so with the bulldog. if you think you can beat Axel at his bucket game, no, you can't. He wins; you lose. 

Every time.

A honey bee gathering nectar from a bush germander at CornerStone Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee gathering nectar from a bush germander at CornerStone Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee gathering nectar from a bush germander at CornerStone Sonoma. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

There's only one thing on Axel's bucket list: a bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
There's only one thing on Axel's bucket list: a bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

There's only one thing on Axel's bucket list: a bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Axel, his tongue out, prepares to grip his bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Axel, his tongue out, prepares to grip his bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Axel, his tongue out, prepares to grip his bucket. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2015 at 5:59 PM
Tags: Axel (1), bulldog (1), Cornerstone Sonoma (1), germander (1), honey bee (153)

Cutting the Mustard

"Spring is the busiest time of year for honey bees,  and their keepers, whether the operation is in the desert uplands of southern Arizona, the citrus groves of Florida, or the apple orchards of Washington state," writes entomologist/bee expert Stephen "Steve" Buchmann in his book, Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive.

So true.

Lately we've been watching honey bees collecting pollen from mustard, Brassica. The amount of pollen they collect is truly amazing. Each honey bee colony collects an average of 20 to 40 pounds a year, Buchmann writes.

Buchmann, the author of The Forgotten Pollinators, The Bee Tree, and other books, will soon release his next book, The Reason for Flowers: Their History, Culture, Biology, and How They Change Our Lives, in July.  Buchmann, an adjunct professor in the University of Arizona's Department of Entomology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Tucson,  and scientist-at-large for the Pollinator Partnership, San Francisco, received his doctorate in entomology from the University of California, Davis. He studied with major professor/native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, now a UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology. Buchmann's dissertation was on buzz pollination.

There's an old saying "to cut the mustard," meaning that someone is good enough or effective enough for a task.

The meaning probably originated from the military term "pass muster," but with honey bees, they're not only good at passing the muster and foraging in the mustard, they excel.

A honey bee with a huge pollen load heads for more mustard pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee with a huge pollen load heads for more mustard pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee with a huge pollen load heads for more mustard pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee foraging on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee foraging on mustard. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, February 16, 2015 at 5:07 PM

Give Her Some Space

If you see a news story about "honey bees" in a newspaper or magazine, odds are you'll see it spelled as one word,  "honeybees."   

That's because the Associated Press Stylebook, the journalists' "bible," spells it that way. So do dictionaries.

However, in the entomological world, that's incorrect. "Honey bee" is two words because it's a true bee, just like "bumble bee." Similarly, you wouldn't spell "dragonfly" as "dragon fly" because a dragonfly is not a fly.

The Entomological Society of America (ESA) governs the worldwide references to insects in its Common Names of Insects. If you want to know the common name, scientific name, order, family, genus, species and author, the ESA database provides it. Type in a name and a drop-down menu appears. Find the honey bee!

Common name: Honey bee
Scientific name: Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Apidae
Genus: Apis
S
pecies: mellifera
Author: Linnaeus

Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology writes about the misspelling in the Kids' Corner of her recent newsletter, from the UC Apiaries. "Since starting my new job at UC Davis, I have been corrected a few times for spelling 'honey bee' as two words rather than 'honeybee,'  a single  word. What  do you think: which one is more appropriate?"

She goes on to explain why "honey bee" is accurate. "Honey bees belong to an order of insects (a group of insects that have several similar features) named Hymenoptera which contains bees, wasps, sawflies and ants. You might even say  they  are  'true'  bees  and  therefore, should be spelled as two words." 

In an article published in a 2004 edition of Entomology Today, the Entomological Society of America's communications program manager Richard Levine acknowledges that "Writing insect names using American English can be difficult. Some species have different names depending on where you are, or with whom you are speaking (think 'ladybug' or 'ladybird' or 'lady beetle'). More often than not, an insect may not even have an official common name because out of the million or so insects that have been discovered and described, only a couple of thousand have been designated with common names by the Entomological Society of America (ESA)."

"To make matters worse," Levine writes, "even the ones that DO have official common names — ones that we see nearly every day — may have different spellings depending on whether they appear in scientific publications or other print media, such as newspapers or magazines."

So the "bible" of journalists--or what the Associated Press sanctions and governs--does not always agree with the scientific "bible" of the entomological community--or what ESA sanctions and governs.

"The reason for the discrepancy is that entomologists use two words if a common name accurately describes the order to which a particular insect belongs," Levine points out. "For example, all true flies belong to the order Diptera, so true fly names will be spelled using two words by entomologists — house fly, horse fly, pigeon fly, or stable fly, for example. However, despite their names, dragonflies and butterflies are NOT true flies — their orders are Odonata and Lepidoptera, respectively — so they are spelled as one word."

As an aside, we wonder if the controversy over the spelling of "honey bee" extends to spelling bees. Would judges eliminate someone for spelling "honey bee" with a space in between? "H-O-N-E-Y (space) B-E-E?"

Still, things can and do change. For years, the AP Stylebook editors insisted that "under take" is two words, not one. They've relented now, and it's one word, "undertake." Glory bee!

Will the AP Stylebook follow the ESA's Common Names of Insects and decide it's "honey bee,"  not "honeybee?"  Will the AP Stylebook give the honey bee some space? Just a little space?

Stay tuned. Or stay buzzed.

A honey bee queen on a finger. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee queen on a finger. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee queen on a finger. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 9:26 PM

The Buzzword is 'Almonds'

The wait is over.

It's almond pollination season again in California. We spotted a lone almond tree blooming in Benicia on Christmas Day. And on New Year's Day, even more blooms.

No honey bees, though.

If you want to photograph bees on almonds, you have to go where the bees are.

Bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, got their buzz on today, as they foraged on several almond trees on the grounds of the Department of Entomology and Nematology.

Meanwhile, the buzzword throughout California is "almonds."   Some 1.6 million bee colonies are here to pollinate the state's 900,000-plus acres of almonds.

A honey bee peers over an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee peers over an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee peers over an almond blossom on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cousins: a honey bee and an ant. Both belong to the order Hymenoptera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Cousins: a honey bee and an ant. Both belong to the order Hymenoptera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cousins: a honey bee and an ant. Both belong to the order Hymenoptera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of a honey bee pollinating an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of a honey bee pollinating an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of a honey bee pollinating an almond blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee heading for the next blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading for the next blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee heading for the next blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 9:56 PM
Tags: almonds (2), honey bee (153)

'Super Sleuth' Solves the Mystery of the Dead Bees

Honey bee "resting," too cold to fly. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What's killing the honey bees?

The email arrived in my UC Davis inbox at 9:10 a.m., Thursday, Jan. 8.

An employee from the UC Davis Plumbing Shop wondered what was happening in front of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus. "There are dead bees everywhere," he wrote, adding that "There were some grounds workers waiting for the UC Davis bus in front of Mondavi, and they commented that they also saw dead bees everywhere in their grounds-keeping areas."

Did the cold spell have something to do with this? But why would honey bees be outside their colony? Honey bees don't fly until the temperature reaches around 55 degrees. 

What was happening?

Super sleuth Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, arrived on the scene. He was appropriately dressed in a trenchcoat, a la Sherlock Holmes (Note that Sherlock Holmes, aka physician Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a beekeeper, too, according to Wikipedia). 

Bee colony could be "up there," on or near the roof. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yes, dozens of dead bees were everywhere and many had been stepped on, their gold pollen loads smashed. There weren't as many as initially thought; no doubt hungry birds ate some of them, and others had been swept up.

Mussen, who retired last June after 38 years of service,  picked up some of the dead bees and noticed that nearly half had small-to-large pollen loads on their legs. Their wings were not tattered. He quickly deduced that the bees had not worn themselves out foraging.

"However, this early in the season, many of the foraging bees are bees that survived since last fall," Mussen said. "Depending upon their overall health, they were working toward the ends of their lives."

Mondavi house manager Kerrilee Knights showed him dead bees on an upper outdoor patio. So the bees were not only dying at ground level but upper levels, Mussen realized.

He noticed some bees flying up over the roof and some live bees "resting" on various parts of the building.

"There's a colony up there somewhere," Mussen said, pointing toward the roof.

Mussen cupped some of the sluggish bees in his hands, and once warmed, off they flew. The other survivors? They were too cold to fly and they would die overnight as the temperature dropped.

Mystery solved. "Elementary, my dear Watson?" No, not really. It's a scene that non-beekeepers rarely see.

"So, it appears that an older population of bees from a colony nesting around the top of the building were foraging near the ends of their lives," Mussen said. "They could not adequately produce enough body heat to keep foraging and they  could not adequately produce enough body heat to fly back to their colony and they were falling to the ground, basically exhausted."

"This is normal and no reason for alarm," Mussen said, "except that people usually are not that close to bee colonies to notice the normal demise of substantial numbers of overwintering bees."

So, it wasn't pesticides, pests, diseases, malnutrition or stress.

Old bees and a cold spell...

This dead honey bee with a load of pollen was among dozens found outside the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This dead honey bee with a load of pollen was among dozens found outside the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

This dead honey bee with a load of pollen was among dozens found outside the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis campus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bee guru Eric Mussen explains bee behavior to Mondavi house manager Kerrilee Knights. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bee guru Eric Mussen explains bee behavior to Mondavi house manager Kerrilee Knights. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Bee guru Eric Mussen explains bee behavior to Mondavi house manager Kerrilee Knights. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Dead bees, with pollen loads intact. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dead bees, with pollen loads intact. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Dead bees, with pollen loads intact. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, January 19, 2015 at 5:35 PM

Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: mdhachman@ucdavis.edu