"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.
If you want to learn more about honey bees and other pollinators, then “The Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey” is the place to “bee” on Saturday, Oct 27 at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI), University of California, Davis.
This will be the "debut event" of the Honey and Pollination Center of RMI, according to event coordinator Tracy Dickinson.
The public event, to take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater, is billed as “an afternoon of lively discusssions, unique tastings and interesting displays on the science behind honey and the important (and surprising) non-honey bee pollinators."
RMI is in the process of lining up speakers and displays.
Registration opens in August. The cost per ticket is $60, with discount prices offered for UC faculty, staff and students. The last day to register online is Friday, Oct. 26.
UC faculty staff and students may obtain a coupon code for discounted tickets through firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, if folks want to become a Friend of the RMI, they need to contact Kim Bannister at email@example.com.
When you see the blow fly (below), what do you think?
Well, that depends on who you are and what you do--or maybe your earliest negative/positive insect recollections.
If you hate flies, particularly blow flies, and you despise their larvae (maggots), your response is probably "Yecch!"
If you're an artist, you might think, "Look at that metallic green sheen and those red eyes!"
If you're a photographer: "What kind of camera and macro lens did you use?" (Nikon D700, 60mm)
If you're into flowers, you might say "Ah, a New Zealand tea tree--Leptospermum scoparium. Fly? What fly? Is there a fly there?"
If you're a beekeeper and see only the Leptospermum scoparium: "Manuka honey!"
If you're a medical doctor and treat wounds: "Maggot therapy!"
If you're an entomologist, particularly a forensic entomologist: "Nice!"
And if you've ever visited the UC Davis Department of Entomology displays at Briggs Hall during the annual campuswide Picnic Day, you''re probably thinking "Maggot Art!" and "When's Picnic Day?" (Note: this year's Picnic Day is April 21, and yes, you can create Maggot Art (take a bow, Rebecca O'Flaherty).
However, if you're an entomologist with a keen interest in insect ecology and insect/plant interactions, the blow fly will bring out the "P" word in you: "Pollinator!"
Honey bees, native bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, bats and the like are all pollinators. But so are flies, including syprhid flies and yes, blow flies.
Mama said there'd be days like this,
There'd be days like this, Mama said...
When Van Morrison wrote the lyrics to "Days Like This," a song popularized by The Shirelles, he probably wasn't thinking of a mama garden spider or her prey.
Still, when Mama Spider weaves her web and snares three pollinators in two days, that's a "Wow." A double, triple "Wow!"
Garden spiders are good to have in the garden when they're capturing and eating pests, like flies, knats, mites, lygus bugs, katydids and the like. Just wish they'd quit picking on the pollinators.
Still, Mama has to eat.
“I’ve got black bumblebees buzzing around our backyard like crazy,” the caller said. “They’re loud. Very loud. They’re dive-bombing and scaring the cat and dog. I’ve never seen anything like this before.”
The unwelcome visitors were not bumblebees. They were carpenter bees.
Carpenter bees? No, they don’t know how to read blueprints or frame floors and walls. They nest in weathered wood, like your fence posts, utility poles or firewood. They tunnel into your deck, railing, shingles and shutters.
They are pests. But they’re also pollinators.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, professor emeritus at the UC Davis Department of Entomology, fields many calls about carpenter bees.
This one pictured below is a male carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex Smith NB, Thorp says.
“It is stealing nectar from the base of the flower. They also spend a lot of time cruising around chasing everything that enters their territory.”
Contrary to popular opinion, carpenter bees don’t consume wood. If you don’t want them around, paint or varnish your wood. You can also plug their (unoccupied) holes with steel wool or caulk, or screen the holes so they don’t return.
The female and male carpenter bees that nectar the salvia (sage) in our bee friendly garden are about the size of bumblebees. “Robust” comes to mind. Okay, fat. They’re fat.
Their abdomens are bare and a shiny black. If you photograph them, you’ll see your own reflection. It’s like seeing your reflection in a black Lamborghini.
The female carpenter bees are a solid black, while the male carpenter bees are lightly colored around the head.
In comparison, bumblebees have hairy abdomens with at least some yellow markings.
If I were a carpenter and you were a…nah, I’d rather be a bumblebee./o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>/o:p>