Thorp to Speak on Native Bees at Bee Celebration in Mill Valley
June 2, 2011
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, shown here next to a tower of jewels in Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, will discuss native bees at a bee celebration June 18 in Mill Valley. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
DAVIS--Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, will speak on native bees on Saturday, June 18 at “A Celebration of the Bees” in Mill Valley.
The celebration, to be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at 221Hillside Gardens and dubbed a “bee-in,” is a community gathering to benefit the beekeeping projects of SuperOrganism: the Marin Pollen Project and the Marin Survivor Stock Queen Bee Project.
The event, sponsored by Savory Thymes, will include a talk on honey bees by master beekeeper and author Mea McNeil of San Anselmo; demonstration and learning stations presented by the Marin Beekeepers’ Association; honey tasting featuring local varieties of honey; mead (honey wine) tasting; and live Celtic music. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Thorp, a noted native pollinator specialist, will discuss the diversity of native bees, such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and leafcutting bees, and how residents can provide habitat for them.
He is involved in research on the role of native bees in crop pollination, the role of urban gardens as bee habitat, and declines in native bumble bee populations. He does research in ecology, systematics, biodiversity, and conservation of bees, including pollen specialist bees in vernal pool ecosystems. He is involved with the management of the Jepson Prairie Reserve, a vernal pool ecosystem.
Although he “officially” retired in 1994, Thorp maintains an office at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. He monitors the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven and Campus Buzzway for species of bees; between March 2009 and July 2010, he has detected 60 different species of bees.
Since 2002, Thorp has served as an instructor in The Bee Course offered annually through the American Museum of Natural History, New York at its Southwest Research Station, Portal, Ariz.
Throughout the year, he presents a number of talks. Most recently, on May 26, he delivered a talk on “Native Bees and Their Lifestyles” to the City of Davis Open Space and Habitat Commission.
McNeil will discuss sustainable populations of bees. “Beekeepers are known for being independent individuals, but some local Marin County beekeepers have joined in a cooperative effort,” she said. “Knowing they can expect high loss, they are leaving their bee colonies untreated in order to select strong surviving queens for the propagation of local stock. They are coordinating test equipment, reference materials, seminars, connections with other groups, forage plantings and a program to distribute queen cells. They are looking beyond mere survival to a gentle, productive, local resistant strain of honey bee.”
McNeil says that the bees will be “sentinels for all creatures.” A sampling of pollen from hives across Marin County will be analyzed for pesticide and fungicide content in a toxicology study in cooperation with Pennsylvania State University. “Perhaps their greatest contribution is that they will be a prototype for what can happen everywhere for our ailing bees,” she said.
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased from this website. Reservations can be made with Jerry Draper at firstname.lastname@example.org. Children will be admitted free, but reservations are required, he said.
SuperOrganism is a non-profit organization dedicated to furthering sustainable agricultural practices through research, events, publications, lectures, demonstrations, and other means. SuperOrganism takes its name and purpose from the model of a honey bee (Apis mellifera) colony where individuals work selflessly and mindfully towards the common good of the whole.
Savory Thymes supports and educates the public about local and sustainable systems.
--Kathy Keatley Garvey
UC Davis Department of Entomology