- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Bring on the asters.
When you visit the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, you'll see Donna Billick's six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, "nectaring" a ceramic purple dome aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).
Appropriately enough, planted next to the sculpture are the aster's cousins: purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea). They're all from the same aster family (Asteraceae).
Ah, the aster family...When the purple coneflowers bloomed last summer and fall, they drew scores of honey bees, bumble bees, sweat bees and carpenter bees in a blazing show of diversity.
Diversity is part of the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven's reason for being. It's intended to provide the Laidlaw honey bees with a year-around food source, raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees and other pollinators, encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, and serve as a research site.
Want to visit what the pollinators are visiting? The haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, is open year-around, dawn to dusk, for self-guided tours. Admission is free.
There you can bee-hold Miss Bee Haven and the seasonal blooms.
Now, bring on the asters!