No sweat? Or, are you...ahem...sweating the answer?
You can learn more about native bees at a special presentation on Saturday, Sept. 17 in the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources' Hopland Research and Extension Center, Hopland.
"Native Bees in Your Backyard," sponsored by UC ANR, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will feature entomologist Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley professor and co-author of California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists, and award-winning pollinator garden designer Kate Frey, co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden (written with co-author Gretchen LeBuhn, professor of biology at San Francisco State University.)
Entomologist/insect photographer Rollin Coville, who captured the spectacular images in California Bees and Blooms, will share his photos.
"The morning will be spent learning about some of the 1,600 native bee species found in California, from the leafcutting bee to the cuckoo bee, the sweat bee to the mining bee!" a spokesperson said. Attendees will learn how to identify them and how to accommodate the needs of the native bees in their own gardeners.
After a locally sourced lunch from Black Dog Farm catering, the participants will carpool to the gardens of Kate Frey, about five miles from the Hopland Research and Extension Center. Her gardens are renowned for their floristic diversity, color and the habitats they provide for wildlife. (See previous Bug Squad blog on Kate Frey.)
California Bees and Blooms is "the bible" of California bee books. A main co-author is Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. Thorp, who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, co-teaches The Bee Course every year at the Southwestern Research Station Portal, Ariz., which began today (Aug. 22) and continues through Sept. 1. Rounding out the list of co-authors of California Bees and Blooms is plant expert/curator Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley.
Registration for "Native Bees in Your Backyard" is now underway at http://hrec.ucanr.edu/?calitem=336669&g=61984. Early bird registration before Sept. 1 is $35. Registration is $40 after this date.
For more information, contact Bird at (707) 744-1424, Ext. 105 or email her at email@example.com.
We just met a male black-faced bumble bee, Bombus californicus.
It was early morning and he was resting on a blanket flower (Gaillardia), a brilliant member of the sunflower family. When you're a bee, a blanket flower offers both bed and breakfast.
Gaillardia was named after M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who was a patron of botany, according to Wikipedia. "The common name may refer to the resemblance of the inflorescence to the brightly patterned blankets made by Native Americans."
The bumble bee species, a native, takes its name from California. Unlike the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, its face is black and long. (Except when it's covered with golden pollen.)
Authors Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn in their newly published book, The Bee Friendly Garden, note that unlike honey bees, bumble bees can fly in "cold rainy weather...They have several physiological adaptations that allow them to fly in bad weather, including the ability to shiver to raise their body temperature."
Frey, a world-class garden designer and LeBuhn, a bee expert and professor at San Francisco State University, offer advice on how to attract bumble bees and other pollinators to your garden. They quote native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: And Identification Guide and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners.
What we know is this: it's good to have bed and breakfast for a bumble bee. Much of the bumble bee population is declining and we all need to do what we can to protect them and provide for them.
That's how we felt when we recently visited the one-acre pollinator bee garden of Kate Frey and her artist husband, Ben, in Hopland, Mendocino County. It's magical.
Kate, a world-class garden designer, and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn, professor in the San Francisco State University, have just co-authored The Bee-Friendly Garden, an educational, enthusiastic and inspiring book that will help you turn your own garden--large or small, rural or urban--into something magical.
Among her many honors, Kate Frey twice won gold medals at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London and received a Silver Gilt award in 2003. She met Queen Elizabeth, who admired her work. Currently Kate directed and taught at Sonoma State University's Sustainable Landscape Program with Extended Education, and consults for various wineries and residences around California, including The Melissa Garden in Healdsburg (privately owned and now closed) and Lynmar Estate Winery in Sebastopol. Her website, http://freygardens.com, offers more information about her and her mission. It's all about the pollinators and how to attract them!
The Frey/LeBuhn team says it well in the preface: “Bee gardens make people happy. Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you.”
- The Benefits of a Bee Friendly Garden
- Our Friends, the Bees
- Plants for Your Bee Friendly Garden
- Bee Friendly Plants for Edible Gardens
- Bee Garden Basics
- Designing Your Bee Garden
- Beyond Your Own Backyard: Becoming a Bee Activist
Their book also contains resources, and regional plant lists for the Southeast, South Central, Southwest, and Pacific Northwest regions, Rocky Mountain/Intermountain West Region and the Northeast/Midwest/Mid-Atlantic Region.
The Frey/LeBuhn team recommends that you “keep a notebook throughout the year and write down the names of plants and which bees are visiting them. This is a fun and informative exercise wherever you go—from your home, to visiting friends, to walks around the neighborhood or anywhere you go in the world,” they write. “Much information can be gleaned this way, much discovered and much shared. Everyone can be a local expert.”
We love the photos of pollinators and gardens in the book—many taken in the Frey garden and in the Melissa Garden. They also focus on small-scale gardening—you don't need a huge space for a bee garden. (The urban Garvey garden is an example!)
Laurie Davies-Adams, executive director of the Pollinator Partnership, says that “this book will make bees happy and healthy in gardens across the country.”
Yes, and people, too!
(Note: The Frey garden will be open June 18 for the Garden Conservancy Open Days Program. See https://www.gardenconservancy.org/open-days/garden-directory/frey-gardens. Here is the entire schedule: https://www.gardenconservancy.org/events/all-events/mendocino-county-ca-open-day-3)
These triple-digit temperatures make us all thirst for water.
Honey bees need water, too.
If you see them taking a sip from your birdbath or taking a dip in your pool, the "sip" means they're collecting water for their hive, and the "dip" could mean they're dying, says retired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"Like most other animals, the bodies of honey bees are mostly water," he points out. "Thus, they need to drink water routinely as we do. Additionally, water (or sometimes nectar) is critical for diluting the gelatinous food secreted from the head glands of nurse bees, so that the queen, developing larvae, drones, and worker bees can swallow the food. They use water to keep the brood nest area at the proper relative humidity, especially when it gets hot and dry outside the hive. Water droplets, placed within the brood nest area, are evaporated by fanning worker bees and that cools (air conditions) the brood nest area to keep the eggs and developing brood at the critical 94 degrees Fahrenheit required for proper development."
On extremely dry, hot days, all bee foraging except for water will cease, Mussen says. "Under those conditions it has been estimated that the bees may be bringing back nearly a gallon of water a day."
Unlike us, honey bees cannot simply turn on a faucet. "They will fly up to nearly five miles to find a suitable watering source," Mussen says. "Suitable to honey bees might not be suitable to us, but if it is moist, it may be visited. Suitable to the neighbors is a separate question. Honey bees can become quite a nuisance if they visit drippy irrigation lines or hose connections, birdbaths, pet water dishes, swimming pools, fountains, or wet laundry and the like. The water foragers become habituated to those sites. If you try to dissuade the bees by drying up the source for a while, it becomes evident that the bees will visit the site every so often so they'll be around quickly after the water is returned."What to do? "People have tried to use repellents in the water, but the bees are likely to use the odor as an attractant when attempting to relocate the water source," Mussen points out. "Some people have had success keeping bees and wasps out of their swimming pools with very lightweight oils or monomolecular films--their purpose is to prevent mosquitoes from being able to breathe. But, if the water is splashed very much, you'll require a new layer."
And all those bees struggling in your swimming pool? "Not all moribund honey bees in a swimming pool are there because they were trying to get a drink. Every day, approximately 1,000 old honey bees from each colony die naturally. This normally occurs during foraging, and the bees just flutter down to the ground, sidewalk, driveway, parking lot, or whatever they were passing over. Some flutter into swimming pools. They are not dead, yet, so they can and do inflict stings on people who bump into them on the surface of the water. "
Beekeepers should make sure there's a watering source on their property so the bees won't hunt for water elsewhere, Musssen says. It should be available all year around. "Once the bees are habituated to the site, most of them will use that source."
One good thing to know: Bees don't like to get their feet wet. In the Garvey birdbath, we have floating wine corks just for the bees. They can land on a cork to sip water or simply sip from the edge of the birdbath. Besides wine corks, you can also use a stone, a twig or a flat chunk of cork. The Melissa Garden, a privately owned garden in Healdsburg that was designed by internationally distinguished bee garden designer Kate Frey of Hopland, includes a flat floating cork in a fountain. On any given day, you'll see bees claiming it as their own.
"How to Attract and Maintain Pollinators in Your Garden."
That's the title of a new publication by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and what a gem this is. It's not only a gem, but it's free. You can download the publication on this site.
"Nearly all ecosystems on earth depend on pollination of flowering plants for their existence and survival; furthermore, from 70 to 75 percent of the world's flowering plants and over one-third of the world's crop species depend on pollination for reproduction," the authors write. "Take a stroll through your neighborhood or a botanical garden or hike in the hills, and experience the shapes and smells of flowers surrounding you. When most people look at a flower, they notice the shape, smell, composition, or structure of the flower, but few take a moment to consider why the blossom appears and smells as it does."
The publication is the work of a nine-member team: UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie and lab assistants Marissa Ponder (lead author), Mary Schindler, Sara Leon Guerrero, and Jaime Pawelek; international landscape designer Kate Frey; Rachel Elkins, UC Cooperative Extension pomology advisor, Lake and Mendocino counties; Rollin Coville, photographer, UC Berkeley; and Carolyn Shaffer, lab assistant, UC Cooperative Extension, Lake County. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, helped edit the publication.
The publication asks and answers such questions as:
- What Is Pollination?
- Who Are the Pollinators?`
- Why Should You Care About Pollination?
- How Can You Attract Pollinators to Your Garden?
Other topics include:
- General Design Recommendations for Pollinator Habitat
- Designs to Attract Specific Pollinators
- A List of Pollinator Plants That are Successful in Most California Gardens
- Nesting Resources for Native Bees
Of bees, the authors write: "Bees are the most important biotic agent for the pollination of agricultural crops, horticultural plants, and wildflowers...approximately 4000 species of bees exist in the United States, with 1600 of those residing in California. About 20,000 species have been recorded worldwide."
And, as they succinctly point out, "Native bee species come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and lifestyles that enable them to pollinate a diversity of plant species." One of our favorites is the metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus).
Last September we enjoyed a tour of Melissa's Garden, Healdsburg, a bee sanctuary owned by Barbara and Jacques Schlumberger and designed by the incredibly talented Kate Frey. “If a honey bee could design a garden, what would it look like?” That's what the Schlumbergers asked Frey back in November of 2007. Although this is a private garden, the Schlumbergers host workshops for schoolchildren, beekeepers and UC Master Gardeners, among other groups. if you ever get the opportunity to tour the garden, you should. A sculpture of Bernard the Beekeeper graces the entrance.
Melissa's Garden is mentioned in the UC ANR Publication, as is the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis and the UC Berkeley-Oxford Tract Bee Evaluation Garden. Also check out the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab website.