- Author: Christine Casey
UPDATE March 17, 2020
Due to coronavirus restrictions, all programs at the Haven have been canceled through May. The September pruning class remains open for registration. We will reschedule the spring classes if possible. Thank you for your understanding.
I'm excited to announce our 2020 class schedule at the Haven, which includes old favorites as well as a new class. Continual learning and experimentation are at the core of what gardeners do, and I hope these offerings will help you expand your knowledge and success as a bee gardener. I'll be the instructor for all classes.
First up is our popular Planting the Bee Garden class. Bee pollination brings us much of our food and supports most of our wild plants. Interest in helping bee pollinators has never been greater, but what can you do in your own garden to make sure it is bee friendly? We'll review the basics of bee biology as a foundation for understanding how garden design and plant selection can be optimized for bees.
We'll also learn about some of the latest research on bees and gardens and how to incorporate this into your garden. The class will conclude with a tour of the Haven for a hands-on look at plants and bees. Registration includes light breakfast and snacks and course handouts.
Returning from its initial offering last year is Bee Watching for Beginners. Observing and identifying live bees can be challenging. If you'd like to become more adept at identifying the bees in your garden, this is the class for you. We'll start with an overview of bee anatomy and learn how to distinguish bees from other insects.
We'll then look at key features of common bees that can be used to identify them in flight. The class will finish in the Haven for hands-on experience observing and identifying bees. Interested students will have the opportunity to use a microscope for closer examination of bee structure.
April 25, 12pm to 3pm, register here.
The final spring class is a new offering, Bee Photography. Bees are among the most challenging insects to photograph, and the goal of this class is to help you better document your own bee observations. We'll start with an overview of bee biology and movement in the garden, followed by a discussion of the tips and techniques used by insect photographers. Participants will have the opportunity to use some of the Haven's bee photography tools and to photograph identified bee specimens.
May 16, 12pm to 3pm, register here.
Also offered last year for the first time, Pruning the Bee Garden will be returning in the fall. Bee gardens are all about flowers, and pruning the Haven's plants is an essential part of creating ample flowers for our bees. In this class we'll learn about the physiology and science behind pruning of ornamental plants and fruit trees, discuss pruning strategies for increasing bloom, review pruning of California native shrubs, and practice pruning in the Haven.
The time for the class has been expanded from last year to allow a more in-depth lecture and ample time for student practice in the garden. Handouts and light refreshments included.
September 26, 9am to 12pm, register here.
- Author: Christine Casey
Winter is when gardeners plan next year's plantings and other changes to our gardens. One consideration in planning a bee garden is creating bee observation spots, along with acquiring tools for bee observation. For many folks this includes photographing bees. Bee photography is challenging and rewarding; here are some tips:
1. Elaborate, expensive equipment is not necessary. I take many of the photos at the Haven with Ricoh CX5 point-and-shoot camera. It has very good macro capabilities for a point-and-shoot that allows me to get nice close bee shots.
2. For action shots, my camera is a Canon Rebel T3i with a 55mm to 250mm telephoto lens. I use the "sport" setting that shoots multiple frames per second, which allows me to shoot bees "in action" as they come and go from flowers.
3. Light. Bees will move if a shadow is cast over them. Position yourself so the sun is in front to avoid making shadows. Photography in full sun at mid-day creates harsh shadows and is difficult. Shade umbrellas help, or try to find a spot in light shade. Although there may be less bee activity, late afternoon is a great time to take bee photos.
4. Time of day. In general bees are most active mid-day, although there are exceptions. Carpenter bees are active until dusk; the charismatic yellow male Valley carpenter bee pictured above becomes active around 3pm. Male longhorned bees form each day's sleeping aggregation at dusk and leave at sunrise the next morning; these are an excellent photography subject. The photos of longhorned bees shown here are from my own garden because of their dawn and dusk schedule.
5. Patience, patience, patience! Plant your bee garden in an area where you can sit comfortably and set up a camera. Target highly attractive plants that bring in a variety of bee species such as salvia and sunflowers.
To view a selection of bee photos from the Haven, visit our Flickr page. Camera and exposure information is included with each photo.
Update February 2016: this blog post from the Xerces Society has more great insect photography tips./div>/div>