UC Garden Blogs
At the Alfalfa and Forage Meeting held at the Kearney Agricultural Center in September, we provided a demonstration of the co-existence of Roundup Ready® (RR) and conventional alfalfa hay fields. The demonstration took place between two hay fields – one of them RR and the other conventional – that were in their third year of production and separated only by a one-lane dirt road. The demonstration showed what is meant by “co-existence”; the RR trait has not transferred to the adjacent conventional hay field or to a nearby organic hay field. All of the fields are co-existing in close proximity, and the RR trait is only found in the RR field. We used commercially-available test strips that detect the CP4 EPSPS protein unique to RR alfalfa to confirm that transfer had not occurred. The test strips are reported to detect the presence of the protein in a hay sample that contains at least five percent RR hay by weight.
Roundup Ready® alfalfa became commercially available in 2005. The genetically-engineered RR trait allowed alfalfa to tolerate the broad-spectrum, post-emergence herbicide, glyphosate. A lawsuit in 2007, however, stopped any further planting. It was not until January 2011 that RR alfalfa was granted non-regulated status and planting resumed.
There are concerns among growers, marketers, and the general public about the ability of RR and conventional alfalfa to co-exist. Key among the concerns is the possibility for the RR trait to transfer by pollen to conventional alfalfa, known as adventitious presence (AP). While transfer of the RR trait has been measured between alfalfa fields grown for seed production (the likelihood depending on the distance between fields), it is largely prevented between fields grown for hay due to management barriers to AP and plant and pollinator biology. The primary management barrier is that hay is generally cut well before 10% flowering, so seed is rarely allowed to form, let alone mature. Biological limitations that make the transfer of the RR trait to conventional hay highly unlikely include the necessity of simultaneous flowering between fields, the presence of pollinators, successful pollen movement via a pollinator to a receptive flower (known as cross-pollination), successful fertilization resulting in viable seed, and viable seed falling to the ground and having the proper conditions for germination and survival. Any grower who has ever tried seeding alfalfa into an existing alfalfa stand knows how difficult it can be to establish new alfalfa plants in an old stand due to competition and autotoxicity. Nevertheless, despite the odds, it is courteous and wise to employ practices that allow the co-existence of RR and conventional alfalfa. The following are advised practices (Putnam, 2006).
- Grow certified seed.
- Understand the potential for the RR trait to be transferred. Cross-pollination is required in seed production but not in forage production.
- Understand the management and biological limitations (described above) to the RR trait being transferred.
- Control nearby feral alfalfa, which is not harvested for hay, could flower, and then be receptive to RR pollen.
- Be aware of neighboring non-genetically engineered (GE) hay.
- Prevent the mixing of hay lots or carry-over bales in balers between RR and conventional fields.
- Test for GE traits.
- Understand tolerances, particularly as they relate to markets.
The majority of the alfalfa market is not sensitive to GE products; nevertheless, test kits are a tool that may be used when customers are sensitive to GE crops. The availability of these strips allows producers and sellers of hay to be product-based for niche domestic and export markets. A couple of products currently on the market that may be used to detect the presence of RR alfalfa in hay, seed, or fresh leaf tissue are Agdia® ImmunoStrip® STX 74000 and Envirologix™ QuickStix™ Kit. Information and pricing is available from the company websites. If you discover another manufacturer's product, be sure to verify that the product is validated for alfalfa; some products are validated for crops like corn and soybeans but not for alfalfa. (The information on products and practices is for educational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by the University of California.)
tragic case of a fatal bee sting that occurred in a back yard in Hampton, near Solihull, West Midlands, England.
A honey bee apparently stung a 47-year-old father on his foot and he went into anaphylactic shock. Rushed to the hospital, he died 10 days later when his kidneys and heart failed. The article reported he was 6 feet, five inches tall, and weighed 17 stones, which is 238 pounds. (One stone equals 14 pounds).
His family indicated he was unaware of his allergic reaction to bee stings.
A sad and tragic case, indeed.
We know of people who have suffered severe allergic reactions and were raced to the hospital in time and fortunately survived. One was a Northern California parks employee who did not know he was allergic to bee stings.
How many people in the United States are allergic to honey bee stings? Approximately one or two out of every 1000 people, says Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "The severity of the response, to even a single sting, varies considerably from person to person."
Immediate injections with epinephrine will usually delay the possibility someone unable to breathe. Then a quick trip to a hospital where medical personnel can administrate antihistamines, steroids "and likely more epinephrine" are in order.
"While honey bees away from their hives normally do not pose too much of a sting threat, if the bees are intoxicated by exposure to certain pesticides, they can become an abnormal sting threat at distances quite a ways from the hives. Additionally, individuals who fear a sting, with good reason, sometimes are more apt to try to shoo the bee away. If a bee already is close to stinging, the additional movement of the 'shooer,' or if there is contact with the bee, results in a much greater likelihood of a sting."
Another piece of good advice that Mussen offers: "Individuals who do not appreciate attention by bees should do everything they can to not smell good to a bee. The use of flower-scented or bee products-scented soaps, shampoos, perfumes, or colognes should be avoided. There is no documented scientific study that suggests that honey bees can detect the odor of fear in humans. But if we watch from a distance, the physical reactions of fearful people often tend to be more likely to cause stings than the behavior of the rest of us."
Photographers who capture images of worker bees foraging in flowers are often asked if they've ever been stung. After all, they're just inches away from them. The usual answer: No. The bees are too busy gathering nectar and pollen for their colonies. Stings can and do occur when the worker bees are defending their hives. Or when you accidentally step on one.
Read Mussen's information on bee and wasp stings on the UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) website.
This honey bee, in the process of defending her hive, is stinging Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of UC Davis. That's her abdominal tissue being pulled out. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of two stings. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"Go native" with native bees, that is.
A bee condo is a block of wood drilled with specially sized holes for nesting sites. Bees lay their eggs, provision the nests, and then plug the holes. Months later, the offspring will emerge.
In our backyard, we provide bee condos for BOBs (short for blue orchard bee) and leafcutter bees.
In the summer it's fun watching the leafcutter bees snip leaves from our shrubbery and carry them back to their bee condo. It's easy to tell the nesting sites apart: BOB holes are larger and plugged with mud, while the leafcutter bee holes are smaller and plugged with leaves.
Osmia lignaria, a native species of North America, is sold commercially for use in orchard crop pollination.
If you want to learn how to build them or where to buy them, Thorp has kindly provided a list of native bee nesting site resources on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility website. You can also purchase them at many beekeeping supply stores. (Also check out the Xerces Society's website information.)
Better yet, if you'd like to learn more about native bees and their needs, be sure to register online for the Pollinator Gardening Workshop on Saturday, March 15 on the UC Davis campus. Hosted by the California Center for Urban Horticulture, it begins at 7:30 a.m. in Room 1001 of Giedt Hall and ends at 2 p.m. with a plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery and a tour of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. For the small fee of $40 you'll receive a continental breakfast and box lunch and return home with an unbee-lievable wealth of knowledge. Speakers will include several honey bee and native bee experts: native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp; pollination ecologist Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen. See the complete list on the website.
You'll be hearing from Robbin, Neal and Eric, but you'll be thinking about BOB.
Leafcutting bees heading home to their condo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, shows Danielle Wishon of the California Department of Food and Agriculture a bee condo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue orchard bees on display at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of bee nesting sites shown March 2 at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Well, why wouldn't anyone NOT want to? That's the question we ought to ask.
Enter doctoral candidate Matan Shelomi of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will present his exit seminar on "Digestive Physiology of the Phasmatodea" on Wednesday, March 5 from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. His seminar is scheduled to be video-taped for later posting on UCTV.
For a preview of his work, watch Shelomi's phdcomics.com video; he cleverly explains his complicated research in two minutes. It's a classic Matan Shelomi.
Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and UC Davis professor of entomology, will receive his doctorate this spring and will then seek a postdoctoral position.
What will he be covering in his seminar?
Shelomi received his bachelor's degree in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University in 2009, and immediately after, enrolled in graduate school at UC Davis.
His work in Davis is funded by the National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship program. Twice he has won the National Science Foundation's East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes' Fellowship: once to work in the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan, and once to work in Academia Sinica in Taipei, Taiwan.
Shelomi served as a teaching assistant for Bob Kimsey's forensic entomology class. In addition, he co-taught a freshman seminar with Lynn Kimsey on "Evolution, Creationism, and Intelligent Design." He has guest-lectured for Entomology 10 "Natural History of Insects"; Entomology 100 "Introduction to Entomology"; and Entomology 102 "Insect Physiology."
He has presented at numerous meetings of the Entomological Society of America (ESA) and the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA) and organized or co-organized four symposia at those meetings. He participates in the ESA's Linnaean Games and Student Debate teams. For his work with ESA and outside it, he won PBESA's John Henry Comstock Award in 2013.
There's more, much more. Shelomi presented a workshop at the 2012 International Conference on Science in Society, and received first place for his talk this past summer at the International Congress of Orthopterology in Kunming, China. He has published his research in number of peer-reviewed journals.
The doctoral candidate's work has been spotlighted in the Sacramento Bee, California Aggie, DavisPatch, plus blogs and vlogs like LiveScience, PHD TV, and Breaking Bio. In addition, Shelomi answers entomology and biology questions on Quora.com, where he has been a top writer for two consecutive years. Huffington Post and Slate printed some of his Quora answers. You might remember that he won a "Shorty" (social media) award for his post "If you injure a bug, should you kill it or let it live?"
Lynn Kimsey says she doesn't know when he finds time to sleep.
Frankly, we don't, either.
- UC Davis Debate Team Wins Top Honors at ESA
- Art Exhibition at UC Davis
- Matan Shelomi's Research Presentation in China
This is the insect that Matan Shelomi studies. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
From the ANR Report :: February 2014 :: Vol. 27 No. 8 (http://ucanr.edu/sites/anrstaff/newsletters/ANR_Report50615.pdf)
Brad Hanson, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Science at UC Davis, has received national and statewide recognition by his peers. He was named Outstanding Early Career Weed Scientist by the Weed Science Society of America. The award is reserved for scientists who have held their terminal degree no more than 10 years and have demonstrated originality and creativity, have made a notable contribution to weed science and have potential for continued excellence. Hanson was presented the award on Feb. 3 in Vancouver, Canada during the organization's annual meeting.
“Dr. Brad Hanson's research and outreach program has made significant contributions to finding and transferring technically and economically viable alternatives to methyl bromide soil fumigation, developing management strategies for herbicide-resistant weeds, and evaluating effective weed management options in tree and vine crops,” said Joe DiTomaso, UCCE specialist in the Department of Plant Science at UC Davis, who nominated Hanson. “He has assumed a national leadership role in his research that is both highly multi-disciplinary and critical for the economic viability of several high-value commodities in California.”
Hanson also received the California Weed Science Society's 2014 Award of Excellence at the society's annual conference in January in Monterey. The award is given annually to recognize a long track record of accomplishments in weed science or management.