Celebrate the Honey Bee!

Aug 16, 2013

Saturday, Aug. 17 is National Honey Bee Day and it's time for a tribute, a salute and a cheer, all combined into one: Go, bees!

We're glad to see concerned citizens, organizations and businesses contributing to bee research at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Department of Entomology and Nematology, University of California, Davis.

This year the department was absolutely delighted to receive a $30,000 donation from the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

State Regent Debra Jamison adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support research to help the beleaguered bees.

 “Every state regent has a fund-raising project; I chose honey bees,” said Jamison, whose first name, Debra, means “bee” in Hebrew. “I have had a lifelong love and respect for bees and I spent a lot of my childhood watching them, attracting them with sugar water, catching and playing with them and even dissecting them during a time when I imagined myself to be a junior scientist.”

“Back in those days, there was an abundance of bees, usually observed by this kid in her family’s backyard full of clover blossoms—something you rarely see any more due to spraying of pre-emergents and other weed killers.”

The funds are earmarked for the lab of bee scientist/assistant professor Brian Johnson.  His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.

Then just last week Häagen-Dazs, a strong supporter of bee research, and the name behind the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis, announced it would donate $5 to UC Davis bee research for every download of its Häagen-Dazs Concerto Timer app--up to $75,000.

The way it works, you download the free app at I-Tunes with your I-Phone or I-Pad. You remove your carton of Häagen-Dazs premier ice cream from the freezer and point your I-Phone or I-Pad at the lid. Voila! Two minutes of concerto music, and that's just the right amount of time for your ice cream to soften or temper.

Häagen-Dazs, besides its continuing, generous support of the garden, funded the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Scholar Fellowship to enable virus researcher Michelle Flenniken to study the viruses that plaque honey bees.

Then there's the group of donors that came forth to make the bee garden happen. The garden, located next to the Laidlaw facility on Bee Biology Road, was planted in the fall of 2009 as a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators, as a way to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, and to provide visitors with ideas of what to plant in their own gardens. Donors? You can see their names on the donor page of the Laidlaw facility website. They include the garden designers (Ann F. Baker Donald Sibbett, Jessica Brainard and Chika Kurotaki); landscape contractor Cagwin & Dorward; and Wells Fargo, which funded the bee-utiful bee sculpture in the haven created by Donna Billick of Davis.

Youth worried about the plight of the honey bees came forth to help. Marin County resident Sheridan Miller began supporting bee research at age 11 and continues to do so through various fundraising projects. She's in high school now--and guess what? She's a beekeeper, too.

Periodically, people ask how to donate to UC Davis Bee Research. Just as Häagen-Dazs has an app for that (a concerto timer), the department has a donor page for that. Folks can make their choice(s). This page lists donors who supported the haven at its inception; more names will be added soon. There's also an online donor button on the Laidlaw home page.

Meanwhile, Saturday, Aug. 17 is National Honey Bee Day and a time to make our voices heard. Can't you just hear the queen bees piping?

Go, bees!