- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre, bee-friendly garden planted in the fall of 2009 next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is, in one word—spectacular.
Featuring a series of interconnected gardens with names like “Honeycomb Hideout,” “Nectar Nook” and “Pollinator Patch,” the garden provides the Laidlaw honey bees with a year-around food source, raises public awareness about the plight of honey bees, encourages visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, and serves as a research site.
Through its parent company Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, Häagen-Dazs has gifted or pledged a total of $252,000 to the garden.
It's a gift to the UC Davis Department of Entomology but it's more than that. “It's a gift to the campus, the community and the honey bees and other pollinators that visit it,” said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the entomology faculty.
“This garden is a living laboratory to educate, inspire and engage people of all ages in the serious work of helping to save honey bees,” said Dori Bailey, director of Haagen-Dazs Consumer Communications.
It offers bees and other pollinators “a place to thrive,” Bailey said, and “it contributes to finding answers that enable us to be better stewards of these tiny pollinators.”
The design? It's the brainchild of Sausalito-area landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker; interpretative planner Jessica Brainard; and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki, who teamed to win the international design competition.
Entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, who chaired the department in 2009 and helped judge the design competition, calls the haven “a campus destination.”
“It's the place to go, the place to be,” she said.
Depending on the season, the garden flourishes with fruits, vegetables, nuts and ornamentals, including almond, plum, apple, pomegranate, persimmon, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, artichokes, onions, salvias, lavenders and daisies. All are labeled by common name and scientific name, in a project spearheaded by Melissa “Missy” Borel, program manager of the California Urban Center for Horticulture, who oversaw the development of the garden
Art graces the garden, thanks to the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by entomologist-artist Diane Ullman and Davis-based artist Donna Billick. Billick sculpted the six-foot-long worker bee that anchors the haven. Students and area residents crafted the bee-motif ceramic tiles that line a bench, which also includes the names of major donors. The nearby shed is walled with ceramic tiles of native bees.
Volunteers from the Davis community tend the garden every Friday morning. Faculty, staff and students lead tours.
For native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, the garden is a research site. He is monitoring the bee species foraging in the garden. “Just over 40 species of bees were found the first year since the garden was planted,” he said. “About half of these were new to the area based on my survey the year prior to planting. As the garden matures and perhaps some new plants are added, I expect the diversity of bees using it to increase.”
The garden is also global in nature. Due in part to Häagen-Dazs web-based marketing, more than 600 donors around the world have contributed more than $70,000 to support honey bee research. In all, what Häagen-Dazs has given to the UC Davis bee biology program exceeds $350,000—this includes funding for the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Scholar and other projects.
The design blueprint can be downloaded at http://beebiology.ucdavis.edu/HAVEN/honeybeehaven.html
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(With photo of founding volunteers)