The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is not only a haven for honey bees; it's a haven for bumble bees and other native pollinators.
A yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) buzzed around in the Bee Bliss salvia today, sharing the blossoms with honey bees.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It's an educational and research garden that provides year-around food for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators.
On any given day, you'll see honey bees, sweat bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees and butterflies. As the weather warms, along will come crab spiders and praying mantids. Another highlight is all the art work created by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, directed by entomologist-artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick and the six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Bee Haven, by Billick.
The garden is open from dawn to dusk. Folks can stroll the gardens on self-guided tours (no admission) and check out the labeled plants. Picnic tables offer places to have lunch--while the native pollinators have theirs.
Think bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, sunflower bees and scores of other bees.
The grand opening celebration of the garden will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, but the bees and other native pollinators are already out there.
And have been for some time.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, has been monitoring the garden for the past two years--from open field to planted garden.
He's found more than 50 different species of bees representing five families (Andrenidae, Apidae, Colletidae, Halictidae and Megachilidae).
They include the striped sweat bee Halictus ligatus from the family, Halictidae; the yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii from the family Apidae; the leafcutter bee, Megachile sp., from the family Megachilidae; and the sunflower bee, Svastra obliqua expurgata from the family Apidae.
How colorful they are. And how diverse.
It's fun seeing little children sharing a cone...an ice cream cone.
But have you ever seen a bumble bee and honey bee sharing a cone (coneflower)?
Around 9:30, a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) and a honey bee (Apis mellifera) buzzed in to forage among the coneflowers.
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), also known as the Eastern purple coneflower or purple conflower, generates a lot of insect excitement. Metallic sweat bees, bumble bees, honey bees and butterflies all try to claim a spot atop this petals-down, cone-up flower, a carnival ride at rest.
Meanwhile, officials are gearing up for the grand opening celebration of the garden, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11. The garden is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators, and an educational experience for visitors.
And a meeting place for a bumble bee and a honey bee.
The yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) may be one of the most underappreciated pollinators.
You see it buzzing around lavender, lupine, California poppies, mustard and other plants.
But a Xerces Society study of organic farms in Yolo County found that it was one of the most important of the native bees visiting the Sungold cherry tomatoes.
The study, titled “Native Bee Pollination of Cherry Tomatoes,” was based on research by Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley, Neal Williams and Robbin Thorp of UC Davis and Sarah Greenleaf, California State University, Sacramento, all members of Xerces.
“Recent studies demonstrate that tomatoes pollinated by native bees produce larger and more numerous fruits,” the authors wrote. “Honey bees do not pollinate tomatoes because they cannot get the pollen and the flowers do not produce nectar. With no reward, honey bees will not visit the flower. Many native bees, however, know the trick to extracting tomato pollen and are, therefore, valuable pollinators.
"Although the tomato plant is self-fertile, flowers must be vibrated by wind or bees in order to release pollen for fertilization. To achieve the most effective pollination, the flower must be vibrated at a specific frequency to release the pollen. Honey bees are unable to vibrate the tomato flower in this way, but bumble bees and other native species can.
The Xerces Society offers a great resource on how to attract bumble bees: see Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms.
In some respects, the yellow-faced bumble bee resembles a cuddly teddy bear. It's big and bumbly, as a bumble bee should be.
From behind, however, its heavy load of pollen looks for all the world like saddlebags on a trail horse.
Those yellow-faced bumble bees know how to put on a happy face.
The males and females frequent our bee friendly garden to sip the sweet nectar of lavender, catmint and rock purslane. The females collect both nectar and pollen for their brood.
I think we have a nest of them beneath the catmint.
Plant it, and they will come.
The yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii), as its name implies, has a yellow face, a mostly black thorax and abdomen, and a yellow band near the tip of its abdomen.
The ones below are males, according to native pollinator specialist and noted bumble bee expert Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. Although officially "retired" (not!), he continues to do research on bumble bees and other pollinators.
Thorp also monitors the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis for bee species.
It's a treat to see the bumble bees there.
It's a treat to see them anywhere.
You gotta love those bumble bees.