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Laidlaw Facility / People

Photo: Robbin Thorp

Robbin Thorp at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility This is Franklin's bumble bee, which he fears may be extinct. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Robbin Thorp

Robbin is professor emeritus of entomology, but he continues to conduct research on bees because he enjoys it.  In the area where the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven garden will be planted, he has been gathering baseline data on honey bee pollen resource use and the diversity of native bees. He will compare this data to data gathered when the garden is planted and when it matures.  Robbin has long-term projects on the status of western bumble bees, on the diversity of bees on Santa Cruz Island, Calif., and on native pollen specialist bees in vernal pool ecosystems.  He provides identification services for collaborators studying native bees as crop pollinators, habitat restoration for pollinators on farms, and urban gardens as bee habitat.

Brief Bio
Professor Thorp’s academic career includes bachelor and master's degrees in zoology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a PhD degree in entomology from the University of California, Berkeley. 

In 1964, Robbin joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and conducted research on pollination of crops pollinated by honey bees, especially almond.  His research also included the use of other bee species in crop pollination, the roles of native bees in pollination of flowers in natural ecosystems such as vernal pools, and on the ecology and systematics of native bees.  He taught courses in General Entomology, Natural History of Insects, Insect Classification, Field Entomology, California Insect Diversity, and Pollination Ecology.  He served as major professor for 9 MS and 11 PhD students.  He served on numerous other thesis and graduate exam committees at UC Davis and other institutions.  He took two sabbatical leaves in Australia.  He was elected a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco in 1986.

Franklin's bumble bee. Click to enlarge. (Photo by Robbin Thorp)

Robbin retired in 1994, but continues to serve on graduate student thesis committees and gives guest lectures.  Since 2002, he has participated 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.   He is also involved with the management of the Jepson Prairie Reserve, a vernal pool ecosystem, and serves as chair of its Advisory Committee for the UC Natural Reserve System.  He continues his research on ecology, systematics, biodiversity, and conservation of bees including pollen specialist bees in vernal pool ecosystems.  He also 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. 

Information on native bees, vernal pools, bumble bees, and urban bee gardens:

Native bees are a rich natural resource in urban California gardens (California Agriculture)

Vernal pool flowers and their specialist bee pollinators (California Vernal Pools)

Bumble bees in decline (Xerces Society)

Bumble bees in Caifornia (UC Berkeley)

Urban bee gardens
(UC Berkeley)

Curriculum vitae

Robbin Thorp Research Wins Dickson Award

More (Watch his Webinar on bumble bees)

Robbin Thorp
Professor emeritus, native pollinator specialist
Phone: (530) 752-0482