Honey bee Web site launches

A newly launched University of California Web site promises to be a one-stop site for information about honey bees and native bees.

The bee biology site, the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility Web site, is at http://beebiology.ucdavis.edu. The facility is located on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.

“Our new Web site will allow us to provide information to the public about bees, answer questions, and highlight our studies and discoveries about bees and their importance in the environment,” said Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology who is coordinating activities at the Laidlaw facility. She also directs the Bohart Museum of Entomology on campus.

The Web site includes sections on research, outreach, publications, news, events, faculty and researchers, honey bees, native bees, pollination, instruction and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It also includes a photo gallery, kids’ zone and links to bee sources throughout the world. A special section is devoted to commonly asked questions.

The honey bee expert team includes Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; bee breeder-geneticist M. Kim Fondrk; and Häagen-Dazs postdoctoral scholar Michelle Flenniken, an insect virus researcher.

The native bee team includes pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology.

“The Web site will be content rich,” said communication specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey, editor, photographer and Web developer. “We’ll be expanding the content to offer the most informative, up-to-date information about honey bees and other bees.”

The site includes videos on honey bees and bumble bees. Of special interest is the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden east of the Laidlaw Facility on Bee Biology Road. Open to the public Oct. 16, it will provide a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators, and an educational experience for visitors who can glean information on how to plant a bee friendly garden.

Bee biologist Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003) was known as “the father of honey genetics.” He grew up in the Southeastern United States and worked as a beekeeper with his grandfather, Charles Quinn. They experimented with mating queen bees and controlled breeding and developed what became known as the Quinn-Laidlaw hand-mating method.

Laidlaw completed his master's degree in entomology in 1934 from Louisiana State University and received his doctorate in genetics and entomology form the University of Wisconsin in 1939.

Laidlaw retired as a professor of entomology in 1974, but continued his research and outreach efforts. He published his last scientific paper at age 87 and his last book at 90. In 2001, the UC Davis Bee Biology Laboratory was renamed the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.

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