Don't forget your sunglasses if you're heading over to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee-friendly demonstration garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis.
That's because the Gaillardia is stunningly bright and beautiful.
And honey bees are all over it.
The Gaillardia, also called blanketflower--reportedly because it typifies the wondrous patterns of Native American Indian blankets--is a native perennial from the sunflower family (Asteraceae).
With all the rain we've been having lately, it's good to know that it's drought-tolerant.
The Gaillardia draws its name from M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who delved in botany.
Ready to see the haven? It's open from dawn to dusk every day. There's no admission fee.
Talk about a bee celebration!
Folks with a passion for honey bees and native bees can head over to Mill Valley on Saturday, June 18 for "The Celebration of the Bees."
To be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at 221 Hillside Gardens, Mill Valley, it's a community gathering to benefit the beekeeping projects of SuperOrganism, the Marin Pollen Project, and the Marin Survivor Stock Queen Bee Project.
The "bee-in" will include a presentation on native bees by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; a talk on honey bees by master beekeeper and writer Mea McNeil of San Anselmo; demonstration and learning stations presented by the Marin Beekeepers’ Association; honey tasting featuring local varieties of honey; mead (honey wine) tasting; and live Celtic music. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.
Thorp will discuss the diversity of native bees, such as bumble bees, carpenter bees and leafcutting bees, and how residents can provide habitat for them. He does 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.
Since 2002, Thorp has served 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.
It's good to see a bee celebration that includes both honey bees and native bees.
Tickets are $35 per person and can be purchased from the Savory Thymes website. Jerry Draper is taking reservations at firstname.lastname@example.org. Although children will be admitted free, reservations are required, he said.
Mid-June should be a great time to celebrate the bees--if the weather agrees to "bee" nice.
The crane fly is as long-legged and slender as a runway model, but as gangly as a teenager.
The insect, from the family Tipulidae, is sometimes called daddy long-legs (not!) or a skeeter eater (not!).
They don't eat mosquitoes and they don't bite. The adults sip nectar. Sometimes when you head out to the garden in the early morning, you'll find them resting on a plant--probably been there all night.
This one (below) was clutching salvia and waiting for a little warmth from the morning sun.
You never hear anyone say "He's as cute as an earwig."
Or, he's as cute as a "lygus bug."
No. It's "Cute as a June bug," which could be any number of bugs, including the fig beetle (Cotinus mutabilis).
Over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus, you'll see plenty of June bugs at a special open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 5. The theme is "June Bugs," and it follows on the heels of "Moth-er's Day," spotlighting moths. Admission is free.
The Bohart Museum, located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive, houses more than seven million insect specimens, plus a "living petting zoo" of Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The museum also has a gift shop which includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, posters, jewelry and insect candy and the like.
A popular item is a toddler-sized t-shirt with praying mantids all over it, says museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis.
That's sure to get folks interested in entomology--or at least talking about bugs!
When you encounter a "Golden Girl" in your backyard, there's one thing to do: grab the camera.
The "Golden Girl," in this case, is an Italian honey bee (Apis mellifera liguistica), the most common honey bee in the United States.
Make that the world.
"Package producers prefer Italian bees because they can start the rearing process early and raise lots of bees to sell," writes beekeeper-editor-author Kim Flottum in his book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden.
Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, goes on to say that commercial beekeepers especially like this trait when it comes to their bees pollinating early-season crops like almonds.
Then, too, Italian honey bees "produce and store lots of honey when there is ample forage and good flying weather," he writes.
There's still another good reason why beekeepers prefer the Italians: "they are not markedly protective of their hive," Flottum says. "Italians are quiet on the comb when you remove and examine frames; they do not swarm excessively, and they do not produce great amounts of propolis."
As for photographers preferring the Italians, these "Golden Girls" just stand out more so than the Carniolans and Caucasians, two other popular races.