- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
You will if you attend the Spring Festival hosted at the Loma Vista Farm, part of the Vallejo City Unified School District, on Saturday, May 16. Offering free admission, the festival will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 150 Rainier Ave., Vallejo.
The bumble bee nest? It's the home of a colony of yellow-faced bumble bees, Bombus vosnesenskii, a native bee species commonly found on the west coast of North America, from Baja California to Canada.
Rita LeRoy discovered the entomological prize. She's the "Farm Keeper"--that's her official title--at the Loma Vista Farm. "I've worked for the Vallejo school district at Loma Vista Farm for 25 years," she related. "I teach students about nature and nutrition through hands on farm lessons involving cooking, gardening, insect appreciation, and animal care."
The nest is currently roped off, just waiting for two-legged folks to admire and appreciate it. It's a marvel of nature, for sure.
More on the Loma Vista Farm? Founded in 1974, it's a 5-acre outdoor classroom that provides hands-on educational activities involving plants and animals for children of all ages and abilities, according to its website. "We seek to increase students' knowledge of nature and nutrition while enhancing academic learning, ecoliteracy, and psychosocial development."
The farm offers field trips, after-school opportunities through 4-H, community service and volunteer opportunities, garden-based workshops for adults, and job training for college students, developmentally disabled young adults, and disadvantaged youth.
We first visited the Loma Vista Farm back in the 1980s as part of a 4-H activity. It was--and is--a delightful place to be. (And bees think so, too!)
Loma Vista Farm is open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. during the school year. It is closed on holidays and follows the Vallejo school district calendar.
And the Spring Festival? It's an opportunity for friends and families to visit the farm and participate in crafts and activities. Activities include educational information booths, animal adventures, train rides and greenhouse tours. Download flier.
In the meantime, check out the red pollen load of Bombus vosnesenskii (at left). We saw the bumble bee foraging on vetch last weekend at the Hastings Preserve, Carmel, a biological field station operated by the University of California. The Hastings Preserve was the site of a BugShot macro photography workshop taught by acclaimed insect photographers Alex Wild, John Abbott and Thomas Shahan.
And for more information on bumble bees, be sure to read the book, Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton Press), co-authored by one of our own, Robbin Thorp, native pollinator specialist and distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Lead author is Paul H. Williams, and co-authors are Leif Richardson and Sheila Colla.