It's also a story about a beekeeper named Brian Fishback of Wilton who eagerly taught them to love bees.
Fishback, a former volunteer at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, and a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association, delights in teaching beekeeping classes and providing bee presentations at schools and public events.
One such recipient: Beth Bartkowski's third graders at Galt's Lake Canyon Elementary School.
“My class (Room 12) has been learning about honey bees since October,” she said. “We have turned our classroom into a ‘Beetopia.' We have done many fabulous activities. Thanks to Brian, we have a hive on campus right now! I am hoping to start a beekeeping club at some point with Brian.”
“My students are so invested in bees!” Bartkowski enthused today. “Brian has been in our room for the past two days sharing his wealth of knowledge. I literally fell in love with bees today when we went outside and opened up the hive! I have an autistic student who has been very apprehensive around the hive. But an amazing thing happened today...we spotted a baby bee starting to make its way out. We watched in awe and cheered her on until sje fully emerged. My autistic student literally had her face inches away with bees all around and was cheering!”
That's the kind of response that beekeepers love.
The class is now trying to “bee part of the solution" by seeking grant funds for a pollinator garden, a virtual "outdoor classroom." Bartkowski and her students submitted their plans for a Raley's Research Grant in keeping with the grocery chain's Earth Day celebration (“Healthier Planet, Healthier You”). First prize is $10,000. Now they are seeking votes on the Raley's website to help them make their bee-lievable dream a reality.
As of today, they're in ninth place and about 300 votes behind first place. The contest ends May 16. The 10 nominations with the most votes will be eligible to receive a Raley's Research Grant up to $10,000.
How will the money be used if they should win?
Here's how to cast a vote for their project. Access http://www.raleys.com/cfapps/reach/nomination.cfm?ideaid=3635400 and press the "vote" button. (And for more information, contact Beth Bartkowski at email@example.com)
As for Brian Fishback, seeing the youngsters love the bees flashed him back to 2008. “From the first moment I opened a hive and held a full frame of brood covered with bees, I was in utopia,” he recalled. “Everything came together. In my hand I held the essence of core family values.”
That same year, 2008, he and his wife Darla purchased a ranch in Wilton, renamed it BD Ranch and Apiary, and began pursuing a self-sustaining life.
The couple now has three young daughters. And yes, another generation of bee lovers.
Some folks call them "bugsy" or "mosquito hawks" or "skeeter eaters" "flying daddy longlegs."
They may look like Texas-sized mosquitoes but they're not mosquitoes. Neither do they eat mosquitoes. They're crane flies in the order Diptera, family Tipulidae. And they're found worldwide.
Slender and long-legged, they fly awkwardly, easy prey for even slow-moving birds. These insects wobble around as if on crooked stilts as they land on your lawn, door, or window. Sometimes you'll see them sipping nectar, but most of the time, they don't feed. Often you'll see crane flies with missing legs (they're fragile and break off easily).
The adults are harmless, though. (Their larvae, called leatherjackets, commonly feed on turfgrass roots.)
We spotted a brown crane fly on our back porch last weekend. It allowed us a couple of photos before it took off for parts unknown, but fortunately keeping all its parts intact.
Entomologists are fascinated by its rostrum (snout) and its beak-like nasus. (That could lead to another nickname, "Snout fly.")
The adults live only 10 to 15 days, according to Wikipedia.
That's time enough to find a mate--or become food for a hungry bird.
It's almost time to count the pollinators!
The University of California's Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) wants you set aside three minutes on Thursday, May 8 and count the pollinators wherever you live--and they live--in California. It's all part of UC ANR's Day of Science and Service celebrating the 100th year of the Cooperative Extension system.
First, count the pollinators (they can be bees, syrphid flies, bats, butterflies and the like.) Then you may choose to photograph them and upload your photos to the UC ANR website.
It should be interesting to glean the final count.
Just a few of the bees you may find:
- Honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- Green metallic sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus)
- European wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum)
- Long-horned bee (Melissodes communis)
Other activities on May 8 focus on water and food (see the website, Day of Science and Service)
Water: in this record drought, UC has committed to reducing its water consumption by 20 percent how are you conserving?
Food: Where is food grown in your community? Fill out our California food maps.
UC President Janet Napolitano has just issued the following statement:
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of our nation's Cooperative Extension system, the University of California's Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources is sponsoring a day of science and service on May 8.
We need your help to make our science projects successful. The more people who participate, the more data we'll have to analyze.
Everyone in California is invited to participate. It's quick and easy. Go to beascientist.ucanr.edu, choose a project, and record your observations about conserving water, growing food or counting the numbers of pollinating bees, birds and butterflies in your neighborhood. You can share your observations on an interactive map and upload photos if you like.
This is a great opportunity to learn about California's natural resources and the role of agriculture in all our communities.
For 100 years UC Cooperative Extension has been turning science into solutions to build healthy communities. From creating new varieties of fruits and vegetables, fighting off invasive pest attacks, and helping school kids learn about healthy eating, UC's work benefits every Californian.
Do you now where the bees are?
On Thursday, May 8 let's all step outside for three minutes and count the honey bees and other pollinators.
It's all part of the "Day of Science and Service" sponsored by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR).
If you're lucky, you'll find multiple pollinators sharing a single flower. Maybe the foragers will all be honey bees, our prime pollinators!
We took this photo of four honey bees vying for the same spot on a pomegranate blossom. A hot spot.
It reminded us of humans fighting for a single parking space during the holiday season and then racing into a store and battling over a special gift (that will likely wind up at a garage sale in several months).
In this case, the reward was nectar. Sweet nectar.
The two go together like a moth to a flame, so why not have "Moth-er's Day?"
And that's exactly what the Bohart Museum of Entomology is doing from 1 to 4 p.m.,Sunday, May 4 in Room 1124 of Academic Surge, Crocker Lane, UC Davis. The open house is free and open to the public.
The Atlas moth (Attacus atlas), the world's largest moth with the greatest wing area of 10 to 12 inches, will be among the insect specimens displayed. The Atlas is found in the tropical and subtropical forests of Southeast Asia--and in the Bohart Museum!
Visitors will see the incredible diversity of moths, and learn the differences between moths and butterflies. "There is far greater diversity among moths than butterflies," said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
Both moths and butterflies are in the order Lepitoptera, which refers to the scales on their wings.
Another large moth on display will be the "bat moth" or "black witch" (Ascalapha odorata), found in Central America, South America, Bahamas and parts of the southwestern United States. In Mexican and Caribbean folklore, it is considered a harbinger of death. The insect played a role in the movie, "Silence of the Lambs" but the name was changed to "Death's-head Hawkmoth."
The white-lined Sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) is another critter you'll see. It flies both at night and during the day and has a wing span length between 2.7 and 3.9 inches. Some folks know it by its nickname, "the hummingbird moth." A member of the Sphingidae family, the white-lined sphinx moth is found throughout most of the United States, plus Mexico, Central America and Canada.
What other kinds of moths will you see on Moth-'ers Day?
- The White Witch (Thysania agrippina), which holds the record for the largest wingspan in an insect (one Brazilian specimen has a wingspan of almost 12 inches). Note that the Atlas has the greater wing area.
- Tomato Hornworm (Manduca quinquemacaulata), what you don't want to see in your garden.
- Sunset Moth (Urania leilus), a colorful day-flying moth often mistaken for a butterfly
- Cosmosoma spp., a genus of clear-winged moths
- Automeris spp., a genus of moths with distinctly large owl-eyes on the hindwings
- Sesiidae, a family of moths mimicking wasps
- Bee-Hawk Moths (Hemaris spp.), a genus of sphinx moths mimicking bumble bees, and sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds
- Moon Moths (Argema spp.), found in Africa and Asia
- Tiger Moths (family Arctiidae), amazing butterfly mimics
- Indian Meal Moths (Plodia interpunctella), also called pantry moths (the caterpillars are grain pests)
The Moth-er's Day event is also a good time to explore the Bohart Museum gift shop for Mother's Day gifts, including jewelry (necklaces, pins and earrings), books and other items suitable for entomology fans.
Visitors can hold live insects such as Madagascar hissing cockroaches, Vietnamese walking sticks, walking leaves and a rose-haired tarantula.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, was founded in 1946 by the late Richard M. Bohart. Dedicated to teaching, research and service, the museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens collected globally. It boasts the seventh largest insect collection in North America.