Cool temperatures and honey bees do not a good team make.
Since honey bees don't forage until temperatures hit 50 to 55 degrees, we haven't seen many bees gathering pollen from our nectarine trees.
If you love nectarines, there's a lot to love. California boasts some 29,300 bearing acres of nectarines, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That's down slightly from the 30,300 acres tallied in 2009.
Although acreage is down, yields are up. The 2010 crop totaled 8.03 tons, up slightly from the 7.25 tons harvested in 2009.
Meanwhile, pollen-packin' honey bees turned out in force last Sunday to forage on the pink blossoms of our two nectarine trees.
It's not just honey bees that forage among the cape mallows in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
The brilliant magenta flowers also draw assorted other insects.
Such as flies...hover flies.
Last weekend, before the rains hit, we spotted a lone hover fly, aka flower fly, visiting the cape mallow.
The cape mallow (Anisodontea hypomadarum), a native of South Africa, is not an earlier bloomer or a late bloomer--it's a year-around bloomer. It's an evergreen shrub that holds its own.
And honey bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, hover flies, butterflies, praying mantids and assorted other insects...
No thanks to the recent storms, almond orchards are encountering Nature's Extreme Makeover--from fluffy popcorn blossoms to tattered petals reminiscent of bottom-of-the-bag kernels.
Still, there's something spectacular about driving down a rural road in Dixon, Calif., and encountering rows and rows of almond trees.
Look a little closer and you'll see the bee hives. (It takes two hives per acre to pollinate California's 750,000 acres of almonds.)
Look a little closer and you'll catch a bee in the act of pollinating.
Today the cold temperature, plodding rain and incessant wind kept the bees clustered inside their hives.
So you want to attract native pollinators to your garden.
It offers a wealth of information, from identifying common bees of North America to helping you decide the best nectar-and-pollen plants for your garden.
The non-profit Xerces Society earlier announced that its Bumble Bee Garden Kit is available. The kit tells you how to attract bumble bees to your garden.
First the garden kit, then the book.
Bring on the pollinators!
You never know who's coming to dinner...er...reception.
When the UC Davis Department of Entomology hosted an open house today for prospective graduate students, the Bohart Museum of Entomology brought along some thorny walking sticks.
Graduate student Matan Shelomi, who studies with major professor Lynn Kimsey, showed the thorny stick insect to various individuals: faculty members, staff, students and prospective students.
The thorny walking stick (Aretaon asperrimus), native to Borneo, is covered with...guess what?... thornlike spikes. The female "stick" reaches three inches long and the males, two inches long. Their diet: bramble, oak, ivy and rose. No human beings; these little walking sticks are harmless.
If you'd like to hold walking sticks or Madagascar hissing cockroaches, be sure to attend the Bohart Museum's upcoming open house, set from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 26. Admission is free. The Bohart is located at 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive.
The insect museum houses more than seven million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
During the weekdays, you can visit the Bohart Museum Monday through Thursday from 8:30 to 5 p.m. (closed during the lunch hour). Group tours can be arranged with Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at (530) 752-9464 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to check out the thorny walking sticks!