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...
The University of California, Davis, is the place to "bee" on Saturday, April 7.
There's a plant sale at the UC Davis Arboretum Nursery on Garrod Drive from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., and there's an open house and plant sale at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Bee Biology Road.
And they are within several miles of one another.
At the one-acre Arboretum Nursery, you'll find what the officials are calling "an incredible selection of Arboretum All-Stars, California natives and thousands of other attractive, low-water plants perfect for creating a landscape alive with environmentally important pollinators." You'll find drought-tolerant, easy-care plants. Look for the inventory here. Members receive discounts, and you can join online, at the gate. Credit cards are accepted.
At the bee haven, operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, you're likely to find asters, California fuchsia, salvia, ceanothus, manzanita, coffeeberry and currant. Favorites include Salvia "Bee's Bliss" and Ceanothus "Valley Violet." Check out the plant list here. Payment is cash only.
As the temperatures soar to 80 degrees, and the ground warms up, the green thumbs are emerging! So are the honey bees, native bees and other pollinators...
The competition is open to all graduate students throughout the country involved in pollinator research, Luu says. Judging criteria? Objectives, methodology, results, research significance, conclusions, appearance, and presentation and interaction with the judges. The winner receives $1000, while the second-place award is $750; third place, $500; and fourth place, $250.
The poster competition is a traditional part of the daylong symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Keynote speaker is bee scientist/professor/author Tom Seeley of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., who will discuss "Darwinian Beekeeping." Seeley is the Horace White Professor in Biology, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and researches the behavior and social life of honey bees. He is the author of three major books, Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life(1985), The Wisdom of the Hive: the Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies (1995), and Honeybee Democracy(2010), all published by Princeton University Press. His books will be available for purchase and signing at the symposium.
The 2017 poster competition drew 14 posters throughout the country. Phillipp Brand, a graduate student in the Santiago Ramirez lab, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, and a member of the Population Biology Graduate Group, won the competition for his research on "The Evolution of Sex Pheromone Communication in a Pair of Sibling Species of Orchid Bees." He received $1000.
Brand, who joined the Ramirez lab in 2013, obtained his bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Dusseldorf, Germany, and then went on to pursue his master's degree there, studying the evolutionary history and the patterns of selection of olfactory receptor genes in a pair of sister lineages of euglossine bees.
"Pheromone communication has long been known to play a central role in the origin and evolution of species diversity throughout the tree of life," he wrote in the introduction on his poster. "What are the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms that control pheromone variation and signal detection?"
Other 2017 winners were:
- Second place, $750; Jacob Peters, Harvard University, “Self-Organization of Collective Nest Ventilation by Honey Bees”
- Third place, $500; John Mola, UC Davis, “Fire-Induced Change in Flowering Phenology Benefits Bumble Bees"
- Fourth place, $250; Devon Picklum, University of Nevada, Reno, “Floral Visitation and pollen Deposition Bombus- Pollinated Dodecatheon Apinum and Pedicularis Groenlandica in the Sierra Nevada”
The fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium: Keeping Bees Healthy is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees," said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. "In addition to our speakers, there will be lobby displays featuring , the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, and much more." Registration is underway.
The conference begins with registration and a continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m., with welcomes and introductions at 9 a.m., by Amina Harris and Neal Williams, UC Davis professor of entomology and faculty co-director of the center. See more at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2018-bee-symposium./span>
Take, for example, the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program.
At the countywide annual Project Skills Day, held last Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Vaca Pena Middle School, Vacaville, scores of 4-H'ers showed what they've learned in their projects. The projects ranged from photography to pigs, from fishing to gardening, and from poinsettias to poultry.
Two involved beekeeping.
Ian Weber of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, a second-year beekeeper, discussed "The Many Different Parts of a Bee Hive," explaining his project to evaluators and fielding their questions. For his efforts, Weber won a showmanship award, one of 11 youths to win the top honor. He competed in the senior division, ages 14 to 19.
Another Vaca Valley 4-H'er and beekeeper, Miriam Laffitte, entered in the junior division, ages 9-10, chose to discuss wax moths, a pest of beehives. She creatively titled her project "Wacky Wax Moths."
They are among the youths taught by beekeeper Garry Haddon Jr., the project leader. Like all the 4-H leaders, he is a volunteer who donates his time and expertise.
The 4-H program, which follows the motto, “Making the Best Better,” is open to youths ages 5 to 19. The four H's stand for head, heart, health and hands. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in a variety of projects. To name a few: computers, leadership, woodworking, poultry, cavies, rabbits, foods and nutrition, dog care and training, and arts and crafts. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools, Williams points out. (Access the 4-H website at http://solano4h.ucanr.edu/Get_Involved/ for more information about the Solano County program, which currently encompasses 12 clubs.)
It's quite true that 4-H'ers (I'm speaking here as an alumnus and longtime adult volunteer) learn many life skills that they would not otherwise learn at home, or in public or private schools.
And that includes keeping bees!
Remember that line in Gertrude Stein's 1913 poem, Sacred Emily: "A rose is a rose is a rose"?
Well, to paraphrase Stein: "A bee is a bee is a bee...except when it's not a bee."
In a recent interactive feature in the New York Times, writer Joanna Klein wondered how we can save the bees if we don't recognize them. She asked "Can You Pick the Bees Out of This Insect Lineup?" and posted an image of bees and wanna-be bees.
All entomologists, we're sure, passed. Many others--those who think every floral visitor is a honey bee--probably not.
Bee expert Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, passed it with flying colors--colors that included that gorgeous photo of a metallic green sweat bee. "Photo editors for news articles need to take this test judging by all the images of faux bees that accompany a variety of articles on bees, especially articles designed to educate the public about bees," commented Thorp, who, by the way, is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: an Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California's Bees and Blooms: a Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday). "I suspect that this is what Joe Wilson had in mind when he created the plate of bees and faux bees."
Joseph S. Wilson, as you may recall, co-authored The Bees in Your Backyard: A Guide to North America's Bees (Princeton University Press) with Olivia J. Messenger Carrill. Wilson is also featured in a fantastic TED talk on "Save the Bees! Wait, Was That a Bee?"
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, gets that a lot--"Is this a bee? Is that a bee?" She recently wrote a piece in the Bohart Museum newsletter about flies masquerading as bees.
Three of the easiest ways to differentiate a fly from a bee:
- A fly has one set of wings. A bee has two sets.
- A fly has short, stubby antennae. A honey bee doesn't.
- A fly has no corbicula or pollen basket. A honey bee (worker bee) does.
A bee is a bee is a bee...except when it's not a bee. Take the New York Times' quiz.
At the end, you'll be asked the number of bee species in the United States. Get ready...