You've probably seen carpenter bees engage in the practice known as "nectar robbing."
Due to their large size, they cannot enter tubelike blossoms such as salvia (sage), so they slit the base of the corolla. They rob the nectar without pollinating the flower.
But have you ever seen a honey bee come along and enter the very spot of a corolla that a carpenter bee has pierced?
We saw a honey bee do just that at the UC Davis Arboretum last weekend.Maybe this UC Davis bee was "smarter" than the average bee?
Don't know if silence is GOLDEN, but Italian honey bees definitely are.
Early morning Saturday, I watched a bee the color of liquid gold nectaring the lavender in our yard.
A golden opportunity to capture her brilliance. She won't live long. Field bees live only four to six weeks in the peak season, so in a few weeks she'll be gone. Others will take her place.
A click of the shutter and a moment preserved in time.
Meanwhile, work is progressing on the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden situated next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
By mid-October it will be finished and ready for golden moments--for the honey bees and the visitors. The haven will be a year-around food source for bees. Plus, it is expected to increase public awareness about the plight of bees AND help visitors glean ideas about what to plant in their own gardens.
Lavender is one of them.
Talk about a tiger by the tail.
That would be the Western Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio rutulus).
It's returned to the Davis area after a 15-year hiatus.
Butterfly expert Arthur Shapiro, professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, says the Western Tiger, one of the largest and showiest of butterflies, “was relatively common in Davis until the early 1990s, when it suddenly disappeared.”
"Since then there have been no sightings at all--or at most one or two per year--until this year. Now it looks like it's back as if nothing had happened!"
Since March 26, Shapiro has tallied about 100 sightings in the Davis/Vacaville area. "It's still flying today," he says.
The butterfly, with a wingspan of three to four inches, has bright yellow wings edged with a black border. Four diagonal stripes grace the top of the wings, and blue and orange spots on the hind wings, near its tail. Its normal range covers much of western North America, from British Columbia to North Dakota in the north to Baja California and New Mexico in the south. It nectars from many flowers including thistles, abelia, California buckeye, zinnia, and yerba santa.
Florian Altermatt, a visitor from Switzerland, spotted the first Western Tiger March 26 near the Memorial Union, UC Davis campus. He had no idea the species had "disappeared.”
Shapiro saw the next one on April 12. Between then and June 4, six more sightings occurred: on campus, in central Davis, and in both east and west Davis.
“The second generation was first spotted on campus on June 24 and in the next five days there were eight more sightings--on campus and in central Davis,” Shapiro said. “There's no doubt the Western Tiger is breeding here again. The mystery is why it ever went away."
Naturalist/photographer Greg Kareofelas has seen the Western Tiger in Davis “consistently” since the last week in June. “It’s an incredible phenomenon,” he said. “I have lived in Davis since 1972 and this is the most I have ever seen. In the last 18 years of ‘Davis record keeping,’ I’ve been averaging about one Davis sighting a year. This year, I have been seeing about one a day for the last seven weeks. My data is only for my yard in east Davis. So this year is unparalleled.”
And Vacaville? "They are just as common in Vacaville as they are here in Davis this year,” he said. “In Vacaville, they never went away.”
“I set a site-specific day record for me with 22 at Gates Canyon (Vacaville) on July 7, and another with eight in the Suisun Marsh on Aug. 9,” Shapiro said.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and professor and vice chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, said the Bohart Museum “has a large collection of these butterflies, in part due to the efforts of Art Shapiro and his students. The collection is important because it archives where the swallowtails have been found in the past, and changes in their distribution over time.”
Shapiro, author of the 359-page Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, maintains a Web site covering more than three decades of collected data.
So, if you see the Western Tiger in the Davis area, e-mail Shapiro at firstname.lastname@example.org.
He's glad "the tiger" is back.
The bees have it.
That would be honey bees and native bees.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology has just launched its new bee biology Web site.
It's a place to learn about research, outreach, publications and upcoming courses; read the news stories, and follow the progress of the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden to be planted next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The people who make it happen--the honey bee team and the native bee team--share a passion well-known in the bee world.
The Web site also includes a kids' zone, links, photo gallery, and FAQs (how to remove stings and swarms, for example).
It wouldn't be a Web site without showcasing the work of Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr., the Houston-born bee geneticist (1907-2003) whose name is legendary with bee genetics. Known as "the father of honey bee genetics," he served on the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty from 1947 to 1974, when he "offically" retired.
Officially he did, but unofficially he didn't.
The emeritus professor continued his research and outreach programs, publishing his last scientific paper at age 87 and his last book at 90. He died at age 96 at his home in Davis.Harry Hyde Laidlaw Jr. left a legacy of global influence, prominence and utmost dedication. The people he trained continue to work at the Laidlaw facility--and at other universities--carrying on his legacy while creating their own.
Honey bees love catmint as much as cats love catnip.
Fact is, catmint and catnip belong to the same family: the mint family or Lamiaceae. The family also includes such aromatic celebrities as peppermint, sage, thyme, lavender, basil and oregano.
So, when the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven opens Oct. 16 on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus, you'll see 13 catmint (Nepeta faassenii) plants sharing the garden with scores of other bee favorites.It's a good choice. Catmint boasts colorful blue-lavender flowers and fragrant gray-green foliage. It's drought-tolerant. It was named Plant of the Year in 2007 by the Perennial Plant Association.
Best of all, bees love it.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is a bee friendly garden. The site is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the UC Davis campus. The haven will provide a year-around food source for bees and "bee" an educational experience for visitors. They can glean information about honey bees and what to plant in their gardens to attract bees.
If you already have catmint in your garden, you're one step ahead of everybody. And one wingbeat away from the bees.
This is one food source that will help our bees stay in "mint" condition.