It’s a warm, spring day. You’re sitting under a tree snacking on a bag of potato chips, when a breeze tickles your nose. You sneeze, sending a soggy crumb into the grass where it bonks an unsuspecting ant on the head. Unfazed, she nibbles the chip, then heaves it over her shoulder and carries it back to the colony. Little does she know that, during its brief flight from your mouth, this sticky glob picked up a fungal spore that is deadly to ants. Within a day she’ll be sick, within two she’ll be dead.
Halting mid-sentence, UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie swings a net towards a flowering beardtongue plant. He reaches into the net and pulls out a wool-carder bee. Holding it between three fingers, he offers it to the volunteers of the Sonoma Bee Count. “Do you see the horns on the tip of the abdomen? That’s clearly a male. Who wants to hold it?” All four volunteers bravely step forward to take it (male bees are unable to sting). “We were the first group to record this guy in California about six years ago,” says Frankie.
Posted on August 31, 2017 - 5:25pm
Posted on May 4, 2017 - 11:00am
Jonathan Sheehan, director of the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion, has always been interested in social insects. So a few years ago, after meeting a beekeeper in Santa Cruz and telling him he’d like to keep his own bees, Sheehan found himself driving his little blue Honda Accord home—with his first hive in the back.
“As I was driving, I was worried I’d get into an accident and find 30,000 angry bees in the car,” Sheehan says. “It’s been fun ever since.”
Posted on August 17, 2016 - 1:37pm