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SFGate: Bee habitats proposed for Berkeley parks

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  • Lea Cox
    ... This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate. The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
    Message 1 of 4 , Mar 23, 2009
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      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      This article was sent to you by someone who found it on SFGate.
      The original article can be found on SFGate.com here:
      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2009/03/23/BA5416KTE8.DTL
      ---------------------------------------------------------------------
      Monday, March 23, 2009 (SF Chronicle)
      Bee habitats proposed for Berkeley parks
      Carolyn Jones, Chronicle Staff Writer


      If you thought Berkeley was buzzing with eco-activity before, just wait
      until Tuesday.
      The City Council is poised to transform all the city's parks and open
      spaces into habitats for bees. If the council approves the resolution, all
      future landscaping would be "pollinator-friendly" flowering native plants
      intended to attract bees, bats, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles
      and flies.
      "I think it's fantastic. This is exactly what we're trying to promote,"
      said Jaime Pawelek, a researcher in urban bee ecology at UC Berkeley's
      Department of Environmental Science Policy and Management. "The Bay Area
      is a leader in the environmental movement - hopefully the rest of the
      country will follow this."
      But those who like to eat at the parks or roll in the grass, such as young
      kids, aren't so sure. After all, more bees means more bee stings.
      "Maybe they could put the bees in parks where kids never go," said Charles
      Cobb, who was playing with his two children at Codornices Park last week.
      "It seems like a good idea, but I'd worry about having them too close."
      The city's proposing that the bee landscaping be planted at least 30 feet
      from children's play areas, barbecues, garbage cans and picnic tables.
      Staff would also post signs in the parks explaining the importance of bee
      habitats.
      "Thirty feet is not enough," said Kristen Burmester, who was at Codornices
      Park with her two youngsters. "If you had a kid who was allergic to bees,
      it would cut out all parks. And I wonder about population control."
      City officials proposed the idea about six months ago, after reading news
      reports about the global decline of pollinators, particularly bees.
      Pollinators are essential for plant reproduction, especially food sources
      such as fruit and nut trees, berries and many vegetables.
      Pesticides and habitat reduction are the main culprits behind the bees'
      decline, Pawelek said. But an increase in native flowering plants would be
      a big help for bees and other pollinators.
      "It's extremely important, if we ever want to eat an apple or pear again,"
      she said. "If we lose bees, we'll just be eating rice and corn, which are
      wind pollinated."
      Park users should not worry about stumbling across a hive and being
      attacked by a swarm of irate bees, she said. Most native bees live alone
      in the ground or hollow tree trunks, and only the females can sting.
      Furthermore, they're more likely to fly away or simply buzz loudly if
      they're irritated. Stinging is not their first choice, she said.
      "They're actually afraid of us," she said. "I've been handling bees for
      years and never been stung."
      Former City Councilwoman Betty Olds was among those who first championed
      municipal bee advocacy. A former bee keeper, she said she was concerned
      about the species' decline and wanted to help.
      Mayor Tom Bates was also an early supporter.
      "I read about the bees declining and thought, 'This is terrible. What can
      we do?' " he said. "Making our parks pollinator-friendly is totally
      possible and economically feasible, and a good way to help bees in our
      city."
      The landscaping plan will not cost any more than the city's regular
      landscaping budget, according to city staff.
      Lars Henri, who was with his 3-year-old at Codornices Park, said he loved
      the idea.
      "Bring on the bees," he said. "Definitely more people will get stung. Bees
      are vital to the world, and we need them."

      Bee resolution
      The City Council is scheduled to vote on the bee resolution at its meeting
      at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley.
      For more information, go to links.sfgate.com/ZGND or
      nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens

      E-mail Carolyn Jones at carolynjones@.... ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Copyright 2009 SF Chronicle
    • LAURA RUSSO
      Dr. Droege, I thought you might be interested in this observation... I was identifying Bombus spp collected off of thistles last summer and I came across a
      Message 2 of 4 , Mar 25, 2009
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        Dr. Droege,
        I thought you might be interested in this observation...

        I was identifying Bombus spp collected off of thistles last summer and I came across a beautiful queen, but there was something odd about her proboscis.  When I looked at it under the microscope I found a small beetle attached.  Then I remembered what I read Kearns and Thomson's "The Natural History of Bumblebees".  "Silken fungus beetles (Antherophagus, Cryptophagidae) sit on a flower with open jaws, waiting to grab the leg, tongue, or antennae of a foraging bee (Plath 1934).  The beetle dismounts upon reaching the bee nest, where it is likely to find many others of its kind, both adults and larvae."  There are very few references to it in the literature, aside from this book there is a brief mention in the Journal of Apicultural Research and Bee World in 2008 and two essays from 1919 and 1921.  Back when bumblebees were called "humble-bees". 

        The beetle hides in flower heads, waiting for an unsuspecting bumble bee to arrive.  The bumblebee, expecting a sweet snack, extends its proboscis, only to be unpleasantly surprised as the beetle clamps on.  Despite its best efforts, the bumblebee is unable to remove the beetle, and is forced to fly back to its nest for help.  When it arrives at the nest, the beetle drops off, and finds other members of its species.  According to these references I found they eat the feces and detritus that the nest creates, and so are actually useful to the bees!  The larvae overwinter and in the spring the adults fly off, looking for another flower to hide in.  It's called phoresy, where one animal uses another animal just for transportation.  ie Hitchhiking.

        I attached two photos if you are interested.  Do you think it would be good to send to the listserve?

        Sincerely,
        Laura Russo
      • Liz Day
        Yes, I found one of those too, a few years ago - at least, it looks much like yours, and was locked onto the tongue of a queen. I think it was mentioned in
        Message 3 of 4 , Mar 25, 2009
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          Yes, I found one of those too, a few years ago - at least, it looks
          much like yours, and was locked onto the tongue of a queen. I think
          it was mentioned in Plath or Alford.

          Liz D.
          Indianapolis
          USA
        • Rajwinder Singh
          Hi all I also collected one of these last summer in State College, PA... in that specimen beetle was hanging on tho the antenna of bumble bee.. I also have
          Message 4 of 4 , Mar 26, 2009
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            Hi all
            I also collected one of these last summer in State College, PA... in that specimen beetle was hanging on tho the antenna of bumble bee.. I also have couple of pictures that I am attaching..These appear to be widely distributed...
            Raj

            On Wed, Mar 25, 2009 at 5:20 PM, LAURA RUSSO <lar322@...> wrote:

            Dr. Droege,
            I thought you might be interested in this observation...

            I was identifying Bombus spp collected off of thistles last summer and I came across a beautiful queen, but there was something odd about her proboscis.  When I looked at it under the microscope I found a small beetle attached.  Then I remembered what I read Kearns and Thomson's "The Natural History of Bumblebees".  "Silken fungus beetles (Antherophagus, Cryptophagidae) sit on a flower with open jaws, waiting to grab the leg, tongue, or antennae of a foraging bee (Plath 1934).  The beetle dismounts upon reaching the bee nest, where it is likely to find many others of its kind, both adults and larvae."  There are very few references to it in the literature, aside from this book there is a brief mention in the Journal of Apicultural Research and Bee World in 2008 and two essays from 1919 and 1921.  Back when bumblebees were called "humble-bees". 

            The beetle hides in flower heads, waiting for an unsuspecting bumble bee to arrive.  The bumblebee, expecting a sweet snack, extends its proboscis, only to be unpleasantly surprised as the beetle clamps on.  Despite its best efforts, the bumblebee is unable to remove the beetle, and is forced to fly back to its nest for help.  When it arrives at the nest, the beetle drops off, and finds other members of its species.  According to these references I found they eat the feces and detritus that the nest creates, and so are actually useful to the bees!  The larvae overwinter and in the spring the adults fly off, looking for another flower to hide in.  It's called phoresy, where one animal uses another animal just for transportation.  ie Hitchhiking.

            I attached two photos if you are interested.  Do you think it would be good to send to the listserve?

            Sincerely,
            Laura Russo




            --
            Rajwinder Singh
            Phd candidate
            Dept. of Entomology
            Penn State University
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