It's not your average garden variety calendar.
It's absolutely bee-utiful.
Native bees reign supreme in “Garden Variety Native Bees of North America,” a calendar produced by University of California alumni as a benefit for two non-profit organizations.
The perpetual calendar, the work of native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin and entomologist/photographer Rollin Coville, both of the Bay Area, features native bees found throughout North America, including the leafcutter bee, bumble bee and sweat bee.
The macro photography is simply stunning. Through these photos, you can get up close and personal with bees you may never have even noticed. The ultra green sweat bees are especially spectacular.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, provided “considerable insight into the biology and ecology of several native bee genera,” said Ets-Hokin.
Also contributing extensively were UC Berkeley faculty members Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremen. Frankie shared his extensive knowledge of native bees in urban gardens. Kremen provided crucial information on native bee crop pollination services, based on her studies in Yolo County.
A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Great Sunflower Project, a national pollinator monitoring and conservation program based in San Francisco, and the Portland, Ore-based Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, which protects native bees and their habitat throughout the United States.
Each native bee comes complete with information, such as the genus, common name, pollen/nectar sources, emergence time, nesting habit, and distinguishing characteristics.
For instance, you'll learn that bumble bees are excellent crop pollinators; they pollinate such crops as tomatoes, cranberries and blueberries better than honey bees.
You can attract bumble bees to your own garden by planting such pollen/nectar sources as giant hyssop (Agastache); manzanita (Arctostaphylos), ceanothus (Ceanothus); California poppy (Eschscholzia), sunflower (Helianthus); and beard tongue (Penstemon).
It's all there--all there on the calendar.
Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1978, has been photographing insects and spiders for more than 25 years. He is collaborating with Thorp and Frankie on a number of projects, including a book on urban bees. It's due out next year.
Ets-Hokin, a UC Berkeley zoology graduate, devotes her time to the public awareness and conservation of native bees. For the past several years, she has collaborated with the Alameda County Master Gardeners in establishing a native bee demonstration garden at Lake Merritt, Oakland.
Coville takes many of his images there and now he has Ets-Hokin hooked on photography.
Preview the calendar here. Want to order one or more? Go to the printer's website.
There are marathons, read-a-thons, dance-a-thons, quilt-a-thons, paint-a-thons, geek-a-thons and sleep-a-thons.
So why not a bee-a-thon?
YourGardenShow.com is teaming with The Great Sunflower Project to sponsor a worldwide bee-a-thon, a free online town-hall event to be broadcast from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Pacific Time) at www.yourgardenshow.com/bee-a-thon.
You can listen to "bee experts, beekeepers and key environmental players reveal the latest buzz on what's happening to our bees and what you can do this summer to make a difference" and ask them questions.
In the meantime, the sponsors are encouraging you to RSVP and upload your favorite bee photo.
The bee-a-thon serves as the springboard for the citizen-science campaign, The Great Bee Count.
This is a great way to draw attention to the plight of the bees and the importance of these insects. While you're tuning in, the bees will be going about their business as usual--working inside the hive, and gathering pollen, nectar, water and propolis outside the hive.
The sponsors are urging us to "Bee curious, bee aware and bee a good neighbor."
Good advice all year long, but especially on Saturday, July 16.
This is no ordinary calendar.
We just previewed the second annual North American Native Bee calendar and it's just absolutely spectacular.
Created by UC Berkeley-alumnus Celeste Ets-Hokin, a native bee advocate from the San Francisco Bay Area, the calendar is a fundraising project for the Great Sunflower Project and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.
The macro images, primarily the work of UC Berkeley-trained entomologist/insect photographer Rollin Coville, are stunning. Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1978, has been photographing insects and spiders for more than 25 years.
The calendar is unique in that each month not only features a "pin-up" photo of a bee but also includes notes on preferred plants, nesting needs, and guidance on how to identify the genus. It's like zeroing in on the lifestyles of the not-so-rich and not-so-famous, the ones that share your garden with honey bees. You can preview a sample of the front cover, one month, and back cover of the calendar.
The calendar idea originated with Gretchen LeBuhn, an environmental science professor at San Francisco State University. She's the one who launched the Great Sunflower Project. What's the Great Sunflower Project about? Members plant sunflowers in their garden, monitor bee visits and report back to LeBuhn. "The Great Sunflower Project currrently boasts an online membership of about 80,000 citizen scientists from across the United States and Canada," Ets-Hokin said.
Back to the calendars. This year the theme is "Bees and Food."
A good theme, a good cause, and a good place to learn about the many species of bees, including leafcutter bees, sweat bees and bumble bees, and how to attract them.
The 2010 calendar was so popular that it sold out. The 2011 calendar promises to be even more popular. In fact, the project coordinators are now taking orders. Orders received by Oct. 15 will be shipped the third week of October, Ets-Hokin said. Orders received by Nov. 30 will be shipped the first week of December.
I have it on my calendar. Only problem is, I don't want to part with my 2010 North American Bee Calendar.
Sunflowers, native to the Americas, are spectacular, especially when you encounter a field of them. If you look closely, you'll see honey bees, sunflower bees and bumble bees working the flowers.
It's pollination at work.
To encourage backyard gardeners to grow sunflowers and collect data about the bees that visit them, the Great Sunflower Project provides free seeds and educational information.
You can obtain the Lemon Queen sunflower seeds from the Great Sunflower Project, from a local nursery or from a seed catalog.
Associate professor and biologist Gretchen LeBuhn of the University of California, Santa Barbara, started the project in 2008 as a way to get citizens interested in bee pollination.
"In 2008, we started this project as a way to gather information about our urban, suburban and rural bee populations," writes LeBuhn, considered "the queen bee" of the Great Sunflower Project. "We wanted to enlist people all over the U.S. and Canada to observe their bees and be citizen scientists. We asked them to plant sunflowers in their gardens so we could standardize study of bee activity and provide more resources for bees. Sunflowers are relatively easy to grow and are wildly attactive to bees."
Since 2008, the Great Sunflower Project has expanded its list of plants studied to include bee balm, cosmos, rosemary, coreopsis (tickseed), and purple coneflower.
"It’s time to turn off your television, take off those earphones, shut down that computer, go outside, and rediscover the wonder of nature," LeBuhn says.
That's one small step toward improving bee habitat--and human habitat, too.
Humans aren't the only calendar pin-up models.
Think native bees.
Think the 2010 Native Bees Calendar.
The Xerces Society and the Great Sunflower Project have joined forces to produce a calendar showcasing 12 commonly found native bees. You'll be able not only to to identity them, but to learn more about them, such as the plants they prefer and their nesting needs.
What are these two organizations?
The Great Sunflower Project, led by San Francisco State University associate professor Gretchen LeBuhn, "empowers people from pre-schoolers to scientists to make the world a better place for bees. The idea is simple; gardeners plant a sunflower and time how long it takes for five bees to visit. Gardens that quickly see bees are healthy. Gardens that don’t see bees aren’t. The sunflowers are both a thermometer measuring the health of the bee community across the continent and a wonderful resource making each garden where they are planted a better place for bees."
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, headquartered in Portland, Ore., is "an international nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the diversity of life through the protection of invertebrates and their habitats," says Xerces Society senior conservation associate Matthew Shepherd. The group "works at the forefront of invertebrate protection, harnessing the knowledge of scientists and the enthusiasm of local citizens to implement conservation and education programs with a focus on endangered species, aquatic invertebrates, and pollinators."
One of the nation’s leading native bee conservation organizations, the Xerces Society provides advice and information to gardeners, land owners, farmers, agency staff and other interested persons.The native bee photos are by noted insect photographer Rollin Coville, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley in 1978. His close-ups are truly magnificent. (You can also see more of his work on his Web site.) Coville collaborates with scientists Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley and Robbin Thorp of UC Davis on a number of projects involving the study of urban bees. Their work recently appeared in the California Agriculture journal.
Shepherd tells us the story behind the story. "Celeste Ets-Hokin, a bee enthusiast in the San Francisco Bay area, came up with the idea and pursued it. At Xerces, we've considered doing a calendar but had always shied away from it because of the time involved. Celeste took the idea to Gretchen LeBuhn, who was looking for fundraising ideas for the Great Sunflower Project. The calendar is really their project and they should get credit for it."
Shepherd modestly says his contribution "has been to answer Celeste's steady stream of questions."
Well done, and for two good causes.
And who says bees can't be pin-up models?