“I'd love to attract honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators, but what can I do?" you ask. "Where do I start?"
So we asked world-class garden designer Kate Frey of Hopland, a two-time gold medal winner at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, co-founder of the American Garden School, and co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden (with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University) for her advice.
Few people are as passionate about pollinators and pollinator gardens as Kate Frey.
We heard her speak at the Native Bees Workshop last September at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Mendocino County, and we tagged along on her guided tour of her one-acre spectacular garden at her Hopland home, where she and husband Ben and assorted pets reside. We also heard her speak on "Gardening for Bees, Beauty and Diversity" May 14 at Annie's Annuals and Perennials, Richmond.
Kate is highly sought as a speaker, whether it be at sustainable landscape programs, gardening seminars, or at UC workshops. Among her affiliates: University of California entomologists Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor at UC Davis, and Professor Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley. (Read what Frankie has to say about native bees.)
So, what to do first? Kate offers these tips:
- Create healthy gardens that require no pesticides by using the right plant, right place approach, add quality compost to all plants and irrigate adequately.
- Choose appropriate plants for your water, soils, exposure, climate, and if annuals, season!
- Think in terms of abundance, not minimalism. Plant at least a 3-x-3 foot area of each plant, or repeat the same plant throughout your garden. Each honey bee colony needs an estimated one-acre of flowers to support it.
- Goal: 12 months of bloom. Plants can be annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees.
- Make sure plants do offer floral resources, as many landscape plants don't.
- Have patches or repeated plants of the same flower. Honey bees practice floral constancy.
- Include water for honey bees
- Sunny spaces are the best.
- Provide bee-block nests and mulch-free nest sites for native bees.
All great advice! Indeed, we should think of pollinators as not mere "visitors," but permanent residents. Plant what they like and they will come. To ensure that they will stay stay, leave soil bare for ground-nesting bees, such as bumble bees. And don't forget those bee-block nests, or bee condos, for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees.
- Asclepias milkweeds, all
- Asters, Aster x frikartii 'Monch' A. ericoides ‘Monte Casino', A. laterifolius Lady in Black'
- Agastache, ‘Black Adder' ‘'Purple Haze' Rosy Giant' ‘Tutti Frutti' and many more
- Arbutus unedo, Strawberry tree
- Arctostaphylos, most Manzanita
- Calamentha nepetoides, Calamentha
- Ceanothus, all California lilac
- Epilobium, California fuchsia. There are many good cultivars
- Eriogonum fasciculatum, California buckwheat
- Gaillardia, Blanket flower
- Helianthus bolanderi, native shrubby sunflower
- Monardella villosa, Coyote mint
- Nepeta faassenii, all nepetas, Catmint
- Origanum, flowering oregano, all. Origanum 'Santa Cruz' and 'Bristol Cross' are good.
"Bee gardens make people happy," Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn write in their book. "Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you."
Yes, we all need a happy place. And so, too, do the pollinators.
Others will learn how to design and plant a stunning pollinator garden so they can grow--and enjoy--their own flowers. Honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators will appreciate it, too.
Kate Frey of Hopland, a world-class garden designer, author, and co-founder of the American Garden School, will speak on "Gardening for Bees, Beauty and Diversity” at a free public program at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 14 at Annie's Annuals and Perennials, 740 Market Ave., Richmond.
Frey, a two-time gold medal winner at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, is the co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University. Her latest endeavor: launching the American Garden School, where gardening enthusiasts, would-be gardeners, landscape professionals and others can learn how to design and plant a bee- and beauty-inspired garden.
Frey, who has close ties with University of California entomologists, horticulturists and other scientists, spoke at the Native Bees Workshop last September at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Mendocino County, and guided a tour of her one-acre spectacular garden at her Hopland home, where she and husband Ben reside.
"Bee gardens make people happy," she and LeBurhn wrote in their book. "Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you."
Describing bees as "a critical link in the global food chain," they added. "Bees are the world's most prolific pollinators...Over 70 percent of the world's plants depend on the pollination of bees, including many nuts, fruits, tomatoes, peppers, or berries." The book will be available for purchase at the event.
Frey's presentation is part of Annie's two-day Mother's Day Extravanza, to begin at 10 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, May 13-14. It promises to be both fun and educational. See the schedule, which includes face painting, balloon twisting with Budderball the Clown; stiltwalking with "circus moves"; music and munchies; and other activities. Saturday's special event, at 11 a.m., will be a presentation by tomato breeder Brad Gates of Wild Boar Farms, Napa Valley, who will discuss "how to grow the perfect tomato." On both days, a free plant will be given to each mother while the supply lasts.
Food available? Yes. A vendor will be selling kosher hot dogs, veggie dogs and other food both days from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Meanwhile, a large crowd is expected to fill the seats at the outdoor program, while bees buzz, syrphid flies hover, and butterflies flutter.
No sweat? Or, are you...ahem...sweating the answer?
You can learn more about native bees at a special presentation on Saturday, Sept. 17 in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Hopland Research and Extension Center, Hopland.
"Native Bees in Your Backyard," sponsored by UC ANR, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature entomologist Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, and award-winning pollinator garden designer Kate Frey, co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden (written with co-author Gretchen LeBuhn, professor of biology at San Francisco State University.)
Entomologist/insect photographer Rollin Coville, who captured the spectacular images in California Bees and Blooms, will share his photos.
"The morning will be spent learning about some of the 1,600 native bee species found in California, from the leafcutting bee to the cuckoo bee, the sweat bee to the mining bee!" a spokesperson said. Attendees will learn how to identify them and how to accommodate the needs of the native bees in their own gardeners.
After a locally sourced lunch from Black Dog Farm catering, the participants will carpool to the gardens of Kate Frey, about five miles from the Hopland Research and Extension Center. Her gardens are renowned for their floristic diversity, color and the habitats they provide for wildlife. (See previous Bug Squad blog on Kate Frey.)
California Bees and Blooms is "the bible" of California bee books. A main co-author is Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Thorp, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, co-teaches The Bee Course every year at the Southwestern Research Station Portal, Ariz., which began today (Aug. 22) and continues through Sept. 1. Rounding out the list of co-authors of California Bees and Blooms is plant expert/curator Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley.
Registration for "Native Bees in Your Backyard" is now underway at http://hrec.ucanr.edu/?calitem=336669&g=61984. Early bird registration before Sept. 1 is $35. Registration is $40 after this date.
For more information, contact Bird at (707) 744-1424, Ext. 105 or email her at email@example.com.
We just met a male black-faced bumble bee, Bombus californicus.
It was early morning and he was resting on a blanket flower (Gaillardia), a brilliant member of the sunflower family. When you're a bee, a blanket flower offers both bed and breakfast.
Gaillardia was named after M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who was a patron of botany, according to Wikipedia. "The common name may refer to the resemblance of the inflorescence to the brightly patterned blankets made by Native Americans."
The bumble bee species, a native, takes its name from California. Unlike the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, its face is black and long. (Except when it's covered with golden pollen.)
Authors Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn in their newly published book, The Bee Friendly Garden, note that unlike honey bees, bumble bees can fly in "cold rainy weather...They have several physiological adaptations that allow them to fly in bad weather, including the ability to shiver to raise their body temperature."
Frey, a world-class garden designer and LeBuhn, a bee expert and professor at San Francisco State University, offer advice on how to attract bumble bees and other pollinators to your garden. They quote native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: And Identification Guide and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners.
What we know is this: it's good to have bed and breakfast for a bumble bee. Much of the bumble bee population is declining and we all need to do what we can to protect them and provide for them.
That's how we felt when we recently visited the one-acre pollinator bee garden of Kate Frey and her artist husband, Ben, in Hopland, Mendocino County. It's magical.
Kate, a world-class garden designer, and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn, professor in the San Francisco State University, have just co-authored The Bee-Friendly Garden, an educational, enthusiastic and inspiring book that will help you turn your own garden--large or small, rural or urban--into something magical.
Among her many honors, Kate Frey twice won gold medals at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London and received a Silver Gilt award in 2003. She met Queen Elizabeth, who admired her work. Currently Kate directed and taught at Sonoma State University's Sustainable Landscape Program with Extended Education, and consults for various wineries and residences around California, including The Melissa Garden in Healdsburg (privately owned and now closed) and Lynmar Estate Winery in Sebastopol. Her website, http://freygardens.com, offers more information about her and her mission. It's all about the pollinators and how to attract them!
The Frey/LeBuhn team says it well in the preface: “Bee gardens make people happy. Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you.”
- The Benefits of a Bee Friendly Garden
- Our Friends, the Bees
- Plants for Your Bee Friendly Garden
- Bee Friendly Plants for Edible Gardens
- Bee Garden Basics
- Designing Your Bee Garden
- Beyond Your Own Backyard: Becoming a Bee Activist
Their book also contains resources, and regional plant lists for the Southeast, South Central, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest regions, Rocky Mountain/Intermountain West Region and the Northeast/Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region.
The Frey/LeBuhn team recommends that you “keep a notebook throughout the year and write down the names of plants and which bees are visiting them. This is a fun and informative exercise wherever you go—from your home, to visiting friends, to walks around the neighborhood or anywhere you go in the world,” they write. “Much information can be gleaned this way, much discovered and much shared. Everyone can be a local expert.”
We love the photos of pollinators and gardens in the book—many taken in the Frey garden and in the Melissa Garden. They also focus on small-scale gardening—you don't need a huge space for a bee garden. (The urban Garvey garden is an example!)
Laurie Davies-Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership, says that “this book will make bees happy and healthy in gardens across the country.”
Yes, and people, too!
(Note: The Frey garden will be open June 18 for the Garden Conservancy Open Days Program. See https://www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days/garden-directory/frey-gardens. Here is the entire schedule: https://www.gardenconservancy.org/events/all-events/mendocino-county-ca-open-day-3)