An important part of the Haven's mission is providing learning opportunities for tomorrow's bee gardeners and bee scientists. Children's activities have always been a part of our open houses; I'm pleased to announce that we now have an area for adults and children to interact to learn more about bees and growing the plants that support them.
Here's a brief tour; I will continue to add new information and educational activities as time permits. I hope you can visit soon!
The area is next to the garden shed and is under shade cloth. There are both adult- and kid-sized tables. A box at the entrance contains an activity sheet for adults and children to use together as they walk in the garden.
An old hive has been made into a message center:
Stop and look at the activity at the solitary bee nesting blocks at the Haven entrance. Kids can then learn how these bees work by collecting "pollen" from "flowers" and depositing it in the "nest." They can also dig in the raised beds to learn how to plant for the bees.
Please be mindful of our policies so that everyone can have an enjoyable visit:
Thanks to Haven volunteers Diane Kelly and Rick Williams, who did much of the construction and painting.
One of the most popular The Bee Gardener posts to date was published on November 10, 2014 in honor of Veterans Day. Since that publication, we've added lots of red, white, and blue flowers to the Honey Bee Haven; beekeeping programs to help vets have proliferated as well. Today's post covers some of the additions.
Both bees and veterans work hard and make contributions that many of us take for granted. In recognition of their service, some agricultural and beekeeping organizations provide support to veterans who would like to make beekeeping their profession. These include:
USDA-ARS: Putting Honey Bees to Work for Veterans
Bee Veterans, based at the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab
Facebook: Bees for Vets
A red,white, and blue bee garden is a great way to honor a vet. Although bees do not see red, they will use red flowers. The flower color 'blue' can be anything from a true blue to purple, while the color 'red' often includes orange and pink tones. A complete list of plants in the Honey Bee Haven, including information on water use and pollen and nectar resources, is here.
|Common Name||Color||Bloom time|
|Aster (many cultivars; see our post)||Blue||Fall|
|California buckwheat (see our post)||White||Summer-fall|
|Catmint (many cultivars)||Blue||Spring-summer-fall|
|Ceanothus (many species and cultivars; see our post)||Blue||Winter-spring|
|Coneflower 'Powwow White'||White||Summer|
|Lavender (many species and cultivars)||Blue||Winter-spring-summer|
|Manzanita (many species and cultivars; see our post)||White||Winter|
|Russian sage (many cultivars)||Blue||Summer-fall|
Here are some of the red, white, and blue flowers you'll see at the Haven during the winter:
Our final open house of 2015 will take place on October 2 from 5:30 to 7:00pm and will focus on integrated pest managment (IPM) in the bee garden. Folks don't want to hurt bees but may also have more harmful insects and diseases than they'd like. How does a bee gardener reconcile this dilemma? Join us at the open house, along with folks from the UC IPM Program, to learn more about bee-friendly pest management tools.
Of course we'll also have our usual bee-oriented activities such as the honey bee observation hive, native bee specimens, and bee experts to answer your questions. Click here for full details about the program. Click here for a map link.
What's our pest management program at the Haven? We have several different beneficial insects that help keep the ones we don't want in check; you might see these at the open house. Many are aphid predators:
Here at the Haven we want people to pay attention to bees. One way to capture the attention of folks who might never have given them much thought is through public art; garden visitors are aware of our many projects created by the student artists of ENT001: Art, Science, and the World of Insects. These help to catch visitors' attention and brighten the garden in winter.
I live in Woodland, an agricultural community and Yolo County seat just north of Davis. Our agricultural heritage is celebrated in two local art projects that include bees.
The first, by artist Colleen Gnos, shows a farmer checking a field. Most artists might have stopped with at that; I love the fact that the all-important bee was included.
The second is a utility box at a busy intersection. Anthony Padilla, the artist for this project that was funded by the Yolo Arts Council, works with spray paint, so I can forgive that some of the bee's details are not as precise as an entomologist might like. These boxes are often tagged with graffiti but the painted ones in town have so far been left alone.
The horticulture industry continues to develop new plants for home gardens, which keeps gardeners coming back for more plants every year. While traits such as disease resistance or tolerance of difficult soil are appreciated, the key feature for new plants is often a wow factor: large flowers, unusual shapes or colors, or multiple layers of petals. Not unlike the tail fins on cars of the Fifties, however, these characteristics may just be for show and may add little horticultural value.
And while these features may sell plants, they often are to the detriment of bees. Multiple layers of petals can make it difficult for bees to find the pollen and nectar resources that they need. And in some cases, these fancier, more complex flowers may not provide forage value at all. A British study comparing single-flowered varieties of common garden flowers to newer double-flowered varieties of the same plant found that, in three of the four species studied, the double flowers had little or no nectar (Corbet et al., 2001, Annals of Botany, 87:219-232).
So when selecting plants for your bee garden, keep it simple.