- Author: Denise Godbout-Avant
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) do not hibernate during the winter. During cold days honey bees cluster around their queen to provide her with warmth and feed on their stockpile of nectar. However, when the temperature rises to 55°F (13°C) or higher, worker bees will leave the hive to forage for pollen.
Native Bees: Bumble Bees & Solitary Bees
Unlike honey bees, most bees live underground. Some “early bird” native bee species emerge from their overwintering sites earlier than others. These include black-tip bumble bee (Bombus melanopygus) and yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii). Some solitary bees such as mining bees (Adrena) and digger bees (Habropoda) will also appear in the winter.
Plants that Bloom in February
Here, in California's Central Valley, it is not unusual to have some warmer sunny days in the midst of winter. Home gardeners who wish to have gardens that are attractive to bees can provide them with a diversity of plants which bloom during different seasons, including plants that bloom in the winter when flowers can be scarce. By doing this, the gardener ensures there is always a source of pollen for local bees to collect, no matter what time of year it is.
- California Wild Lilac – Ceanothus is an evergreen bush that can turn many Western hills blue in the winter. There are several varieties for home gardeners to choose from including the following:
o Ceanothus griseus horizontalis – Yankee Point ceanothus: A ground cover with light blue flower clusters in winter and spring.
o C. thyrsiflorus – Blueblossom ceanothus: A popular landscaping choice, it varies in height from 2-3 ft. to 25 ft. or more with flowers that range from light to dark blue which bloom in winter and spring.
o C. rigidus ‘Snowball' – White Monterey lilac: As the name suggests, unlike many Ceanothus, this 3-5 ft. tall and wide bush produces white flowers in the fall and winter.
o C.maritimus ‘Valley Violet” – Santa Barbara ceanothus: At 2 ft. tall x 4 ft. wide, this smaller, tough, reliable plant has lovely dark-violet flowers. It was named one of UC Davis Arboretum's 100 top “All-Star” plants.
- Lavandula angustifiola – English lavender: This variety of sweetly fragrant lavender is more tolerant to cold and frost and will bloom throughout the summer and winter if dead blossoms are removed regularly. Ranging from 8 in. to 2ft. width and height, there are many selections to choose from in various shades of lavender-blue, pink or white.
- Manzanita are evergreen bushes native to the far West and need little to moderate water once established. All have small urn-shaped flowers, typically blooming in late winter or early spring followed by red or brown berries that are attractive to birds.
o Arctostaphylos manzanita – Native to California, this bush can get to 7 x 7 ft. with pink flowers.
o A. pajaroennsis – Grows 3-8 ft. tall, 10-12 ft. wide. Pink and white flowers bloom a long time.
- Peritoma arborea – Bladderpod: This drought-tolerate evergreen California native bush, also known as spiderflower, grows 3-6 ft. tall with a 2-3 ft. spread. Showy yellow flowers bloom in late winter through early spring. Easy to grow, they self-seed.
- Cersis occidentalis – Western Redbud: This deciduous tree can grow to 10-18 ft. tall and wide with handsome heart-shaped dark green leaves. Magneta flowers can begin blooming in February in warmer areas.
- Eschscholzia californica – California Golden poppy: California's native flower, some start blooming in the winter and often continue throughout the summer into early autumn. The satiny four-petaled flowers vary from yellow to lighter or darker shades of orange. These 12-inch high plants reseed themselves.
- Hardenbergia violacea - Lilac Vine: Native to Australia, these have twining stems which need support, with evergreen foliage, and clusters of sweet-pea shaped violet, rose or pinkish-purple flowers which provide color to the winter garden. They grow up to 10 ft.
For Valentine's Day Plant a Winter-Blooming Plant
Bees are in decline due to many factors, including pesticide use, urbanization, and Climate Change. When selecting plants for your garden this year, consider placing some winter-blooming, bee-friendly plants in your landscape this Valentine's Day. You'll be providing both native and honey bees with sources of nectar during a time of year when flowers are scarce and adding some color to your winter garden!
If you have flowers blooming right now, we want to hear from you! Please post your favorite February bloomers in the comments below.
Sources and Additional Information:
Sunset Western Garden Book. 2012 Printing
Piedmont Master Gardeners – The Garden Shed Newsletter, August 2019. The Bees In Your Backyard.
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernadino, May 23, 2018. Getting to Know Our Native Bees.
UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. Learn More About California Native Bees.
UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden. Arboretum All-Stars. https://arboretum.ucdavis.edu/arboretum-all-stars
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation Blog, 27 December 2019.
Insect Apocalypse? What Is Really Happening; Why It Matters; And How We All Can Help.
Denise Godbout-Avant has been a Stanislaus County Master Gardener since 2020.
- Author: Anne E Schellman
Native Pollinator Gardening in Your Backyard was recorded on May 26, 2020. Our guest speaker, Chris Howington from Natural Resources Conservation Service, quizzed attendees on their knowledge of pollinators, described the three types of pollinator nesting, and gave examples of what types of plants pollinators prefer.
Chris also spoke about the insect apocalypse, and what is causing dwindling numbers of bees, butterflies, and many other species. He details how you can help by creating an area in your landscape for pollinators!
Here are some resources to go along with the presentation:
- Find plants that work best in your area to provide pollen and nectar for pollinators from the Xerces Society
- How to build a “bee house,” from Michigan State University
- Read the latest research on native bees from UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab
- Author: Anne E Schellman
If you didn't receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org, first check your spam. Another reason you might not have gotten emails from us is that you typed your email address incorrectly when you signed up. Several emails sent out came back as incorrect. Sign up again and carefully type in your email address: http://ucanr.edu/virtualpollinators/2020
If you are still having issues, please send an email to email@example.com before 4 p.m. on May 26.
Our goal for this class is to teach:
- What is a pollinator?
- How can you recognize pollinator in your garden?
- What plants do native pollinators prefer, and how can you attract them to your garden?
To view the class tomorrow night, you need to register by 4 p.m. today to receive the link and password. If you miss the class, you can watch it a week later on our YouTube Channel. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_VH0Tcyqn2M6R8TneFa6gQ
- Author: Rhonda Allen
It's a joy to walk along the tree lined path and discover a variety of native plant species you might not know about. This garden recreates natural environments that are dwindling.
The garden was started as a community effort with support from the City of Modesto to improve a neglected strip of land and provide a usable space for the neighborhood. Much of the assets in the garden came from donations and neighborhood efforts. Modesto Subaru also came on board as a supporter to help with needed improvements.
The garden has sections of interest, such as a children's play area, where a little lending library can be found and activities such as tic tac toe and hopscotch. Rustic wood benches are scattered along the path for rest and view stops. The city provided 32 valley oak trees which form the backbone of the garden along the path.
During the spring months there is much color to enjoy. Look for white poppies, yarrow, daisies, and mock orange in the white garden area.
The blue garden hosts blue eyed grass, ceanothus, Cleveland sage and other bluish blooms. The striking dark blue blossoms on the ceanothus are a must see and attract large numbers of bees, both native bees and honeybees.
Another developing color area is the yellow garden, which has sunflowers, wallflower, and other asters.
You may find your own favorite plant or color spot as you walk along the trail and explore. Many area residents come back weekly to see which plants are newly blooming. The garden changes constantly,
The increase in bird and insect visitations is a reminder of what communities can do to help support our natural environment.
If you see some plants that inspire you, consider planting these species in your home landscape to provide a food source for our native pollinators, which are in desperate need of habitat and nutrition that these plants can provide.
Enjoy your walk!
You can learn more about the La Loma Neighborhood Garden by visiting their website at https://sites.google.com/prod/view/lalomanativegarden
Rhonda Allen is a Master Gardener trainee. She is set to graduate and become a Master Gardener this June!