Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

He’s a champion of the alternative bee

By
From page A5 | July 10, 2014 |

Neal WilliamsW

Neal Williams is an associate professor of pollination and bee biology in the UC Davis department of entomology and nematology. Kathy Keatley Garvey/Courtesy photo

When it comes to almond pollination, it’s the more the merrier for growers when wild bees work alongside honeybees, says pollination ecologist Neal Williams.

For Williams, pollination isn’t just a buzzword.

“Pollination by bees is a critical input to many crops — as essential as irrigation, fertilizer or labor,” says the associate professor of pollination and bee biology in the UC Davis department of entomology and nematology.

One of Williams’ main goals is to provide practical information to California farmers for improving the long-term stability of pollination. He also wants to promote pollinator conservation and management.

Focusing on “alternative managed” bees, such as blue orchard bees and bumblebees, Williams likes to point out that on a per-bee basis, bumblebees are more effective than honeybees in pollinating tomatoes and watermelons. And the blue orchard bee is used to pollinate California’s No. 1 crop, almonds.

Williams says national and global strategies should be developed to support the diversity of bees and to enhance their habitat, especially with the decline of honeybees and bumblebees.

He cites crucial facts:

* Thirty-five percent of primary food crops benefit from animal pollinators.

* The global value of pollination surpasses $220 billion per year.

* In the United States alone, honeybees account for $14.6 billion, and wild or nonmanaged bees, more than $3 billion.

More effective

Williams was part of an international research team that found that honeybees are more effective at pollinating almonds when other bee species, including the blue orchard bee, are present.

The groundbreaking research — which took place in almond orchards in Yolo, Colusa and Stanislaus counties — “is especially important because it increases the pollination effectiveness of honeybees as demand for their pollination service grows,” Williams says.

The researchers discovered that when blue orchard bees and wild bees are foraging with honeybees in almond orchards, the behavior of honey bees changes, resulting in more effective pollination for “this challenging crop.”

Williams’ research on pollination spans the disciplines of conservation biology, behavioral ecology and evolution. A primary element of his research focuses on sustainable pollination strategies for agriculture. His interest in sustainability, in fact, has made him a core faculty member of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute.

That research involves:

* How native pollinators help alleviate the stress on honeybees and also suggests ways to more sustainably manage agricultural systems;
* How farmers enhance habitat and diversify agricultural systems to promote managed and wild bees; and
* Whether pollinators interact in ways to increase the overall effectiveness of crop pollination.
Williams’ past research in the Eastern and Western U.S. helped form the basis for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service planting guidelines to enhance pollinators in agriculture.

Developing bee habitats

Currently, Williams is looking at how landscape affects pollinators.

“Although other colleagues in our region investigate the importance of habitat for bees, we are unique in developing methods to identify best plants for bees and then applying these methods to select the plants,” Williams says.

His lab’s approach involves extensive field data, original computational modeling and controlled experimental testing. They are also testing how the resulting native plant mixes perform in real landscapes.

The Williams lab is working with more than 20 different growers and landowners in California and a variety of different crop types from orchard to row crop.

“We have helped to determine best practices for planting bee habitat, protocols for monitoring pollinator use and developed widely used methods for assessing pollinators’ contribution to pollination service,” he says.

The lab is compiling a database on “Honey Plants of California,” to be posted on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility website. It will include plant type, common name, genus, species, drought tolerance, honey value, honey color, pollen value and flower color.

Taking his practical findings to the next level, Williams says his next goal is to work with theoreticians to model bee communities and pollination.

Comments

comments

Kathy Keatley Garvey

.

News

Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Community Meals needs cooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Send kids to camp!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

Wise words

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Awareness is key to this fight

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where is this going?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

 
Options for protection come with flu season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

 
Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Archer will get my vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Mike Keefe cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Building something at schools’ HQ

By Our View | From Page: A10

Don’t sell city greenbelt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino project is flawed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Maybe David can beat Goliath again

By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Sports

DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

 
Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
.

Business

UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
Styles on target for November debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

MBI hires VP of marketing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

By Rob White | From Page: A9

Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8