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UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance

From the UC Blogosphere...

Why We Need to Push for Pollinator Protection

Entomologist May Berenbaum  photographs a bee on a pomegranate tree at the UC Davis bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, during her May 2014 visit to the campus. With her is Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, now retired. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The 10th annual National Pollinator Week ends Sunday, June 25, and what an opportunity it's been to showcase our...

Posted on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 4:15 PM

Pollinator Week

Pollinator Week, June 19–25, 2017: Bee Knowledgeable!
—Stephanie Parreira, UC Statewide IPM Program

Bees are the most important pollinators of California agriculture—helping us grow field crops, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Honey bees receive most of the credit for crop pollination, but many other kinds of bees play an important role as well. There are 1600 species of bees in California! Take time during Pollinator Week to learn about the different kinds of bees and what you can do to help them flourish.

Why should I care about other kinds of bees?

Bees other than honey bees contribute significantly to crop pollination. For example, alfalfa pollination by alfalfa leafcutter bees is worth $7 billion per year in the United States. Other bees can also boost the result of honey bee pollination—in almond orchards, honey bees are more effective when orchard mason bees are present. The more bee species, the merrier the harvest!

While growers often rent honey bee colonies to pollinate their crops, some wild bees pollinate certain crops even better than honey bees do. For instance, bumble bees are more effective pollinators of tomato because they do something honey bees do not: they shake pollen out of flowers with a technique known as buzz pollination. Likewise, native squash bees are better pollinators of cucurbits—unlike honey bees, they start work earlier in the day, and males even sleep in flowers overnight.

How can I help honey bees and other bees?

When it comes to land management and pest management practices, some bees need more accommodations than others. That's why it is important to know what bees are present in your area and important to your crop, and plan for their needs. Use this bee monitoring guide from the University of California to identify the bees present on your farm.

You can help all kinds of bees by using integrated pest management (IPM). This means using nonchemical pest management methods (cultural, mechanical and biological control), monitoring for pests to determine whether a pesticide is needed, and choosing pesticides that are less toxic to bees whenever possible. Check out the UC IPM Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratingsto learn about the risks different pesticides pose to honey bees and other bees, and follow the Best Management Practices To Protect Bees From Pesticides.

Bees also need plenty of food to stay healthy and abundant. Plant flowers that provide nectar and pollen throughout the year. See the planting resources below to find out which plants provide year-round food for specific types of bees.

Like honey bees, native bees need nesting areas to thrive. Bumble bees, squash bees, and other bees nest underground. Ground-nesting bees may require modified tilling practices (such as tilling fields no more than 6 inches deep for squash bees) or no-till management to survive. For aboveground nesters like carpenter bees and mason bees, consider planting hedgerows or placing tunnel-filled wooden blocks around the field. See the habitat resources below for more information about native bee nesting in agricultural areas.

Enjoy your “beesearch!”

Bee Habitat Resources

Sources

Posted on Friday, June 23, 2017 at 8:27 AM

Kate Frey: How to Attract Pollinators

Award-winning garden designer, author and pollinator specialist Kate Frey addresses a recent crowd at Annie's Annuals and Perennials. Her topic:

It's National Pollinator Week and you might be wondering where your pollinators are.  “I'd love to attract honey...

Posted on Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 2:09 PM

Hey, Honey Bee, I'll Race You to the Flowers!

A honey bee and a bumble bee, Bombus melanopygus, head for the same patch of lavender. This image was taken in Vacaville, Calif. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hey, honey bee, I'll race you to the flowers. Okay, but you'll lose. I can go faster. Watch me! The scene: a male bumble...

Posted on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Tower of Beauty: Tower of Bees

A honey bee packing blue pollen as it forages on the tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The Echium wildpretii is commonly known as "The Tower of Jewels" but it ought to be known as "The Tower of Beauty." That's...

Posted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017 at 4:19 PM

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