A UC Davis postdoctoral researcher who studied with global bumble bee authority Robbin Thorp is fittingly the winner of the Bohart Museum of Entomology’s inaugural Robbin Thorp Memorial First-Bumble-Bee-of-the-Year Contest.
Charlie Casey Nicholson photographed a black-tailed bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, in a manzanita patch at 3:10 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, in the UC Davis Arboretum to claim the honor. The site is near Old Davis Road.
He noted this was his seventh observation field trip to look for the first bumblebee of the year. He had searched six previous times (three 10-minute observations on the manzanita on each of two other days, Jan. 6 and 7).
The contest seeks a photograph — not a specimen — of the year’s first bumblebee within the two-county area of Yolo and Solano, said coordinator Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology.
As the winner, Nicholson will receive a special Bohart bumblebee coffee cup and a face mask, Kimsey said.
Nicholson, a researcher in the UC Davis department of entomology and nematology labs of Professor Neal Williams, a pollination ecologist, and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, is a 2015 alumnus of The Bee Course, where Thorp, a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology, taught from 2002 through 2018. The nine-day intensive workshop, geared for conservation biologists and pollination ecologists and considered the world’s premiere native bee biology and taxonomic course, takes place annually in Portal, Ariz., at the Southwestern Research Station, part of the American Museum of Natural History, N.Y.
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