A spectacular pollinator garden that's a "must-see" is Kate Frey's pollinator garden at Sonoma Cornerstone.
Kate Frey, a world-class pollinator garden designer, pollinator advocate and author who addressed the UC Davis Bee Symposium in March on "Designing Bee Friendly Gardens," has created a masterpiece. And yes, the pollinator garden is open to the public--no admission fee.
We visited the garden last Saturday and saw a pipevine swallowtail nectaring on Nepeta tuberosa, yellow-faced bumble bees sipping nectar from Stachys bullata, hummingbirds scoring nectar from salvia, and honey bees foraging on everything from Scabiosa "Fama Blue" to a native milkweed, Asclepias speciosa.
This is a happy place.
As she told the crowd at the Bee Symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: Whether you plant them, nurture them, or walk through them, bee gardens make us happy.
Frey's sign at the Sonoma pollinator garden explains that "All the plants offer food resources of pollen and nectar for pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Pollen is a protein, mineral and fat source and is primarily a larval food for bees, while nectar is composed of various sugars and is the main food for pollinators and the adult life stage of many beneficial insects. Pollinators need a continuous food source for many months of the year. This garden contains a range of plants that will bloom in succession from early spring to late fall."
Frey's sign also noted that "Pollinators all have preferred plants they feed from, and flowers cater to specific pollinators. Some flower shapes are designed to exclude unwanted pollinators. The long, constricted floral tubes of honeysuckles or many salvia exhibit their focus on hummingbirds as primary pollinators. Other flowers nectar, like coffee berry is easily accessible to all pollinators. This garden contains a wide range of plants to appear to a variety of pollinators. Over 80 percent of flowering plants require insect or animal pollination. What insects or birds do you see visiting each flower type?"
Well, let's see: bees, butterflies, and birds...Apis mellifera, Battus philenor, Bombus vosnesenskii, Papilio rutulus, Calypte anna...
"The same plants that support pollinators," Frey indicated on the sign, "also make us happy."
They do! Happiness is a pollinator garden...
Or at least you saw the crowd circling Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The bees buzzed and so did the festival-goers.
Niño presented several "live bee" demonstrations in a circular screened tent. She opened the bee hive, pulled out frames, and showed the crowd the three castes of bees: the queen, worker bees and drones.
Niño talked about beekeeping and what bees need, and then passed a couple of drones through the tent to the crowd. Some gasped, not realizing that drones are males and cannot sting. Other marveled at the docile drones, took cell phone photos and petted them. The drones didn't seem to mind!
All in all, it was a great day for bees at the California Honey Festival, which is annually sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland.
"Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States." The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival goers learned about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
How many attended the festival? About 30,000, said Harris. (That's not counting the bees!) Harris noted that the inaugural festival drew about 20,000. Organizers had expected about 3000. Next year: maybe 40,000 or more?
Be sure to check out the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) newly posted video on the festival, featuring Niño. It's excellent. Although she's based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she's California's Extension apiculturist. We are fortunate to have her! See the UC ANR video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPEdMBYXZY
Resources? The E. L. Niño lab website is at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/.
Their California Master Beekeeper Program is at https://cambp.ucdavis.edu.
You may not be able to get close enough to take a selfie with a honey bee foraging on your flowers, but you'll be able to take a selfie of a bee at the California Honey Festival.
With the costumed bee mascot.
Last year Benji Shade of Woodland Christian High School donned the costume, greeted guests, and posed for photos. And festival goers took selfies with her. "Miss Honey Bee" got into the act, too: she took a selfie with her teacher and festival "escort" Jessica Hiatt.
There will be plenty to photograph at the festival, set from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 5 in downtown Woodland. A free, family friendly event sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland, it will include presentations on honey bees and bumble bees, live music, cooking demonstrations, a beer and wine garden, and a Kids' Zone. You'll learn from world-class bee garden designer and author Kate Frey on what to plant in your garden to attract bees. She and Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University authored the award-winning book, The Bee Friendly Garden.
Have you ever watched a beekeeper open a hive? One of the festival highlights: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, California's state apiculturist, and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, will present three "live" bee demonstrations in the bee tent. Working in a circular screened tent, Niño will explain exactly how the beehive works. She will show the difference between the queen and the workers and drones, explain how bees draw out wax in the frames and store honey in the cells, talk about how the frames are placed within the hive to maximize the bees' efficiency, and answer questions. Her demonstrations are scheduled for 11:15, 1 p.m. and 3:45 in the bee tent, UC Davis Stage. See complete schedule of events.
The festival was created in 2017 to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. "Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States. "
The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
Festivals are not only entertaining and educational but are happy, fun-filled occasions.
Hey, Miss Honey Bee, can I take a selfie?
Think fun, food, friends, family, and free.
The honey-of-an-event--attendance is free--promises to be both entertaining and educational.
Don't know much about bees or honey? Or have questions? You'll find out from the experts.
"This year's festival is like a growing beehive," said Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, which is partnering with the City of Woodland to stage the event. What can folks expect? "Everything that happened last year, but more, better and bigger!"
Last year they anticipated 3,000. Were they ever surprised when they drew a crowd of 20,000. Even more are expected this year as folks make a "bee line" to Woodland.
The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping, Harris says. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
One of the highlights: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, California's state apiculturist, and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, will be "opening a bee hive to show attendees just how a bee hive works," said Harris. "The intriguing catch? The hive will be full of bees!"
Nino, working in a circular screened tent, will explain exactly how the beehive works. She will show the difference between the queen and the workers and drones; explain how bees draw out wax in the frames and store honey in the cells; talk about how the frames are placed within the hive to maximize the bees' efficiency; and field questions. Her "live bee" demonstrations are scheduled for 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:45 in the bee tent, UC Davis Stage.
The crowd can also learn what to plant in their gardens to feed the bees and other pollinators. Honey bees pollinate one-third of the American diet.
Although admission to the festival is free, there will be plenty of opportunities to order food and drinks from booths, restaurants and bars. Drinks will include mead and honey beers on tap.
Yes, there will be cooking demonstrations featuring honey. Yes, you'll be able to sample honey at the free honey tastings. Yes, there's a Kids' Zone. Yes, live bands will perform throughout the day. They include Gold Souls, City of Trees Brass Band, Sam Chance and the Untraditonal, Cameron Calloway, and Mojo Green. (See festival schedule)
Question: If bees perform the waggle dance--which they do--what do happy human beings perform at a California Honey Festival?
You'll just have to "bee there" to find out!
If you can't chew gum and walk at the same time, think about the multi-tasking honey bee.
Have you ever seen a worker bee engaging in three tasks simultaneously: flying, adjusting her pollen load, and cleaning her tongue?
We recently spotted a honey bee packing what seemed like a bowling ball-size load as she headed toward the mustard in our pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif. She took the opportunity to clean her tongue or proboscis. There's a reason they're called worker bees!
This time of year, Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, is also engaging in multi-tasking as she plans the second annual California Honey Festival in partnership with Woodland city officials. It's set for Saturday, May 5 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown historical Woodland. It's a free, family event that promises to be both educational and entertaining.
"The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping through this unique educational platform, to the broader public," Harris says on her website. "Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival will help develop an interest in beekeeping by the younger generation. Attendees will learn about the myriad of issues that confront honey bees including pesticide use, diseases and even the weather! In addition, attendees can learn how to creatively plant their gardens to help feed all of our pollinators. It is important for the community to appreciate and understand the importance of bees as the lead pollinator of many of our crops adding to the food diversity we have come to enjoy."
The California Honey Festival benefits "select bee and pollinator non-profits doing the hard work of research and education to ensure bee health worldwide," Harris says.
At the inaugural festival last year, Harris was expecting a crowd of 3000. Surprise! Surprise! More than 20,000 attended. With all the buzz about the bees and the crucial need to protect them, the attendees turned into "bee-lievers." And there's more in store this year.
Among the speakers are Gene Brandi, past president of the American Beekeeping Federation; Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; John Mola, UC Davis graduate student and the winner of the 2018 UC Davis Bee Symposium graduate student poster competition; Kate Frey of Hopland, noted garden designer, consultant, columnist and co-author of The Bee Friendly Garden; and Billy Synk, director of pollination programs with Project Apis m., and formerly with the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis will present its insect petting zoo (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, stick insects, tarantulas and praying mantids) and educational displays.
Wait, there's more. And more. and more. Check out the California Honey Festival's schedule of events.