Honey bees own the flower beds at the Solano County Fair, 900 Fairgrounds Drive, Vallejo.
But bees and other insects claim the exhibit halls, as well. They're depicted on everything from quilts and photos to graphic arts displayed in McCormack Hall.
Indeed, pollinators are an integral part of the exhibits at the 70th annual Solano County Fair, which opens Thursday, June 27 and continues through Sunday, June 30. The annual family-based fair aims to inform, educate and entertain.
Gloria Gonzalez, superintendent of McCormack Hall, and a community leader with the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, called attention to the colorful bees framing a 9-patch maple leaf quilt showcased in the adult division. It is the work of Tina Frothy of Vallejo.
And some of the youth entries?
- Jessie Means of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, entered a close-up photo of a honey bee.
- Maya Prunty of the Pleasants Valley 4-H Club submitted a photo of a caterpillar.
- Alana Boman of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club sketched a moth.
- Madeline Giron of Benicia drew a bee.
Butterfly guru Art Shapiro, UC Davis distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, identified it as Parthenos sylvia ssp. lilacinus from Southeast Asia. "Its English name," he said, "is the Blue Clipper."
Locally, you can see Blue Clipper specimens in the Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis. "We have 11 specimens of this subspecies and specimens of 4 other subspecies of Parthenos sylvia, as well as specimens of two other species in the genus," said entomologist Jeff Smith, curator of Lepidoptera at the Bohart. He describes the butterfly as "beautiful with a strong wingbeat." Smith remembers collecting one in Thailand when he was serving with the U.S. Air Force.
Gonzalez said some of the items entered in the fair are tagged for the silent auction; the highest bidder takes the entry home.
Admission to the Solano County Fair is free all four days. Parking is free the first day only. Gates are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and from noon to 8 p.m., Friday through Sunday. See more information on the website.
Cheers to 70 years! And cheers to the exhibitors who picked pollinators!
"You can learn a lot from these displays," a fairgoer at the 144th annual Dixon May Fair commented.
She was looking at an educational display with the catchy title, "None of Your Beeswax," the work of Ryan Anenson of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, whose projects include beekeeping. The display is showcased in the Youth Building (Denverton Hall) at the Dixon May Fair, which opened Thursday, May 9 and continues through Sunday, May 12.
In his project, Anenson explained what bees produce. He zeroed in on bee venom, pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, honey, propolis, and also alternative medicine, history of honey, and bee hive air. Anenson concluded: "Honey might be the most well-known bee product in the world, but it certainly isn't the only by-product these magnificent creatures produce. Bees are considered 'the pillars of agriculture' for the work they do in pollination. If you have ever enjoyed most fruit, vegetables and other crops, you should generally thank the bees. Through pollination, bees contribute to maintaining biological balance in nature and help various animal and plant species, including humans, to thrive. Honeybee products are an entirely natural food source and have a long medicinal history that people have used since ancient times.Bees are arguable the most invaluable species to life on earth and are more vital than many people may realize."
As for beeswax, Anenson penned: "Worker bees at a young age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens. They use this beeswax to form the walls and caps of the honeycomb. However, some beekeepers use plastic as a foundation or substitute for honeycomb. Just like the honey that bees produce, many people harvest beeswax for various purposes, like candles, lip balms, creams, polish and conditioners, just to name a few."
The teenage 4-H'er was among those who attended a UC Davis Bee Symposium several years ago, and also participated in a recent California Honey Festival, co-sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
Madeline Giron, another Dixon 4-H'er, sketched a color pencil drawing of a bee, and Markus Taliaferro of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, Dixon, submitted a photo of a honey bee sipping nectar. Another drawing, the work of Katelyn Nipper of Fairfield, featured "crayon art flowers": brightly colored spring flowers bordered by the crayons she used.
Lots of flowers! Just add pollinators!
Meanwhile, speaking of pollinators and plants, there's a clearance plant sale at UC Davis on Saturday, May 11 at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Horticulturists are billing it as a "Pollinator Paradise." Everything is 15 percent off (Members receive an additional 10 percent off.) You can access the inventory here.
Lots of plants! Just add pollinators!
One of the ways is through the 4-H Youth Development Program. Who can join 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands and which follows the motto, "making the best better?" It's open to all youths ages 5 to 19. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking, according to Valerie Williams, Solano County 4-H representative. They develop leadership skills, engage in public speaking, and share what they've learned with other through presentations.
At the recent Solano County 4-H Presentation Day, held at Sierra K-8 School, Vacaville, 4-H'ers presented demonstrations, educational displays, illustrated talks, an improv, and an interpretative reading.
The interpretative reading was about bees.
Kailey Mauldin, 15, a sixth-year 4-H'er and member of the Elmira 4-H Club, Vacaville, delivered an award-winning presentation on Sue Monk Kidd's New York Times' bestseller, The Secret Life of Bees. Kailey read and interpreted passages, and answered questions from evaluators JoAnn Brown, April George and Kelli Mummert.
Kailey related that the story is set in a fictitious rural town in South Carolina in 1964 during the civil rights era. Fourteen-year-old Lily Owens "has just run away from her abusive father named T-Ray," Kailey recounted. "Her mother passed away at an early age." In going though her mother's belongings, Lilly finds an address that leads her to a farm where she meets three sisters, May, June and August, strong African-American women who run a beekeeping business.
Kailey read several passages about Lily's first experience with bees. The book is in Lily's voice.
August, opening a hive, tells Lily: “Egg laying is the main thing, Lily. She's the mother of every bee in the hive, and they all depend on her to keep it going. I don't care what their job is—they know the queen is their mother. She's the mother of thousands.”
The way the bees poured out, rushing up all of a sudden in spirals of chaos and noise caused me to jump.
“Don't move an inch,” said August. “Remember what I told you. Don't be scared.”
A bee flew straight at my forehead, collided with the net, and bumped against my skin.
“She's giving you a little warning,” August said. “When they bump your forehead, they're saying I've got my eye on you, so you be careful. Send them love and everything will be fine."
I love you, I love you, I said in my head. I LOVE YOU. I tried to say it 32 different ways...
Eventually, Lily experiences "a frenzy of love" as the bees seem to say: "Look who's here, it's Lily. She is so weary and lost. Come on, bee sisters."
Interpreting the passages she'd just read, Kailey said: "I learned all bees have mothers and that love isn't who or what, it is now...The way they took her (Lily) in, that was love. Love is everywhere."
Kailey isn't enrolled in a 4-H beekeeping project--yet.
(Editor's Note: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño offers beekeeping classes at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. See website.)
Oh, you didn't get yours?
Well, Delsin Russell, 9, of Vacaville, did, and he and his mother journeyed Saturday, Jan. 12 to the Bohart Museum of Entomology open house on the University of California, Davis, campus, to show it to scientists and perhaps get it sexed. Male or female? That's still uncertain.
Russell, wearing a purple t-shirt lettered with "Easily Distracted by Bugs," said Santa knew what he wanted and delivered his much-wanted--and now much-cherished--tarantula to him.
According to Wikipedia, the Mexican redknee tarantula, as the name implies, is a native of Mexico: "It's a popular choice as pets among tarantula keepers."
No strangers to the Bohart Museum, Delsin and his mother, Beth Russell, attended the insect museum's open house last August featuring extreme insects. (Delsin wore an insect-themed shirt, "I like big bugs; I cannot lie.") The open house featured "insects that can live in intense heat, cold, acidity or salinity." A wide variety insects, including flies, beetles, wasps and more, can live in these extreme conditions. Some species are even attracted to fire, said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and UC Davis professor of entomology.
As for Delsin, he aims for a career as an entomologist. Currently, he's enrolled in a beekeeping project in the Vaca Valley 4-H Club--and taking very good care of his Mexican redknee tarantula.
Goes to prove that Santa isn't afraid of tarantulas. They're welcome in his sleigh.
Three More Open Houses Scheduled at Bohart Museum
The Bohart Museum is planning three more open houses during the academic year.
- Saturday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., during campuswide Biodiversity Museum Day.
- Saturday, March 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. for its "Eight-Legged Wonders" (This is a spider theme, featuring the work of the Jason Bond lab)
- Saturday, April 13 from 10 to 3 p.m. as part of the UC Davis Picnic Day.
The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus, is the home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a year-around gift shop and a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas) and a year-around gift shop. It is open to the general public Mondays through Thursdays, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. It hosts occasional, weekend open houses. Admission is free. Further information is available on the Bohart Museum website at http://bohart.ucdavis.edu/ or contact (530) 753-0493 or email@example.com.
Spider Glue Seminar, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
Wednesday, April 24 is the date of a UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology seminar to be presented by postdoctoral researcher Sarah Stellwagen of the University of Maryland, College Park. She will speak on “Toward Spider Glue: From Material Properties to Sequencing the Longest Silk Family Gene" from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, located on Kleiber Hall Drive. (See new story on spider glue.) Medical entomologist Geoffrey Attardo, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is coordinating the seminars.
The two-day fair, downsized from years past, is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 30 and Sunday, July 1. Admission is free; parking is $5 per vehicle. (See schedule.)
At McCormack Hall, youth and adult exhibitors are displaying such projects as an insect-themed afghan, photographs of insects; a photograph of a "spider girl"; and a wall hanging of a dragonfly crafted from fan blades and furniture legs.
McCormack Hall superintendent Gloria Gonzalez, a community leader of the Sherwood Forest 4-H Club, Vallejo, marveled at a bumble bee and other patterns on a Minnesota sampler crocheted afghan, the work of Debra Holter of San Pablo.
The wall hanging of the dragonfly, the work of Tina Saravia of Suisun City, is also drawing interest. Using her imagination and recyclables, Saravia crafted it primarily with fan blades and furniture legs. It's entered in the adult recycling class,
Gary Cullen of Vallejo entered a photo that he titled "Spider Girl," of a smiling girl with a spiderish facial costume.
Ryan Anenson of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, who is enrolled in a beekeeping project, submitted a close-up image of a honey bee. Maya Prunty of Sacramento 4-H submitted an image of a moth.
Those are just a few of the arthropod-related exhibits at the fair. Some of the items are available for purchase in the fair's Competitive Exhibits Program. The highest bidder in the silent auction takes home the exhibit.
That will include the honey bee image by teenage beekeeper Ryan Anenson.