As temperatures climbed into the seventies last Saturday, honey bees foraged in the California native plant, Brandegee's sage (Salvia brandegeei). and pollinated the almond blossoms.
It seemed like spring.
Nearly 600 visitors crowded into the half-acre bee demonstration garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven during the seventh annual UC Davis Biodioversity Museum Day. The haven was one of 13 museums or collections offering special activities.
Visitors learned about bees, engaged in a catch-and-release bee activity with a vacuum device and made "feed-the-bees" seed cookies to take home.
The haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. A six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Beehaven, by artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, anchors the garden. Other art, coordinated by entomology professor Diana Ullman, co-founder and director of the Art/Science Fusion Program, and Billick, also graces the garden.
The haven, installed in the fall of 2009, was named for its principal donor, the premium ice cream brand, Häagen-Dazs. Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the faculty director of the haven, and Christine Casey, academic program management officer, serves as the staff manager.
It's sort of like the wonders of the world but this is a science-based event at UC Davis. Scheduled Saturday, Feb. 18, it's a special day for the public to go behind the scenes to see 12 collections and learn how scientists conduct research.
You'll gain first-hand knowledge. You'll see everything from honey bees to hawks, and from bugs to botanical displays.
The event, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., will "showcase natural history, biodiversity and the cultural-ecological interface," said coordinator Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator for the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
The open house is free and open to all; parking is also free. All collections are within walking distance on campus except for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road for the Raptor Center on Old Davis Road, and
The following will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.:
- Arboretum and Public Garden, headquartered on LaRue Road
- Bohart Museum of Entomology, Academic Surge Building
- California Raptor Center, Old Davis Road
- Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology, Academic Surge Building
- Paleontology Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Phaff Yeast Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
- Viticulture and Enology Culture Collection, Earth and Physical Sciences Building
The following will be open from noon to 4 p.m.:
- Anthropology Museum Young Hall
- Botanical Conservatory, greenhouses along Kleiber Hall Drive
- Center for Plant Diversity, Sciences Lab Building
- Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Bee Biology Road
- Nematode Collection, Sciences Lab Building
All participating museums and collections have active education and outreach programs, Yang said, but the collections are not always accessible to the public. In the event of rain, alternative locations are planned for the outdoor sites. Maps, signs and guides will be available at all the collections, online, and on social media, including Facebook and Twitter, @BioDivDay.
For further information about the event, access the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Day website.
You're likely to see many species of bees at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 9 on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
The half-acre bee garden, operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and primarily funded by the premier ice cream brand, was planted in the fall of 2009. It's located west of the central campus, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden contains scores of bee friendly plants, visited by honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, sweat bees, European wool carder bees and other pollinators.
Two of the bees you'll see Saturday are the Valley carpenter bees. The male and females are clear examples of sexual dimorphism. The male, often called "a teddy bear bee," is blond with green eyes, while the female is a solid black.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, collected a couple of the male Valley carpenter bees today for the spring open house. If you're apprehensive about touching them, don't bee. "Boy bees don't sting," he says.
A six-foot-long sculpture of a worker bee, "Miss Bee Haven," the work of Donna Billick of Davis, anchors the haven. Throughout the garden, you'll see the ceramic mosaic work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, co-founded and co-directed by Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis, and Billick, a self-described "rock artist."
The garden took shape under then interim department chair Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. Scores of professionals and volunteers made it all possible. (See History of the Haven.)
Today it is managed by entomologists Christine Casey, staff program representative, and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, faculty director of the haven.
The open house will include a tour of the garden at noon. Other activities:
- Learn to catch and observe bees up close
- See honey bees at work in an observation beehive
- Learn about bee diversity and identification
- Learn about what and how to plant for bees
How did the mayfly wind up on the flowering artichoke? Well, there's a body of water close by--our fish pond.
Speaking of fish--not the kind in our pond, though--the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is hosting a LASER-UC Davis event on Thursday night, Dec. 4 and one of the speakers is Chris Dewees, retired marine fisheries specialist, who fuses art with science. His topic: "Passion for Fish: When East Meets West."
The LASER event, free and open to the public, is scheduled from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in the Room 3001 conference room of the Plant and Environmental Sciences (PES) Building, UC Davis campus. LASER is an acronym for Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous.
Dewees, a San Francisco native with a lifelong passion for fish, will speak from 8:10 to 8:35. His career has included commercial fishing and 35 years as the statewide marine fisheries specialist based at UC Davis.
When first exposed to the Japanese art of gyotaku, DeWees says he was "hooked." Gyotaku is the traditional method of Japanese fish printing, dating back to the mid-1800s.
His illustrated talk will offer insights into two-way communication between scientists and artists. "I will talk about how I can express my love of fisheries as a science-based career and as art."
"Combining my fisheries expertise with this art form gives me a very balanced life and a way to communicate my passion for fish to others," DeWees says. The art has led to shows and adventures around the world including the Smithsonian. Dewees received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Redlands in biology and speech; his master's degree from Humboldt State University in fisheries; and his doctorate at UC Davis in ecology.
Three other presentations will take place at LASER-UC Davis event. It's a good time to "bug out" of the house and attend.
The complete schedule:
6:30 to 7 p.m. Socializing and networking
7 to 7:25 p.m. Venkatesan Sundaresan, a plant sciences professor at UC Davis, will speak on “Mysteries of the Silent Kingdom: Sticking to One's Roots, Managing Hormones and Spreading Genes”
7:25 to 7:50 p.m. Robin Hill, art professor at UC Davis, will speak on “Idea Cultivation in the Studio.”
7:50 to 8:10 p.m. Break: Networking/socializing.
8:10 to 8:35 p.m. Chris Dewees, retired marine fisheries specialist at UC Davis, will speak on “Passion for Fish: When East Meets West."
8:35 to 9 p.m. Nanette Wylde, professor of art and art history at California State University, Chico, will speak on “Instigating Some Kind of Action: Interactive Projects Online and Off.”
The coordinator/moderator, Anna Davidson of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, received her Ph.D. earlier this year from UC Davis in plant sciences and is now seeking her master's degree in fine arts. She continues to study the biological world using both artistic and scientific approaches.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program was founded by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor of entomology at UC Davis and her colleague, self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, now retired. Their legacy--and that of the students they taught--is the mosaic ceramic art all over campus and beyond.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, an innovative program that fuses art with science--and science with art--took shape 17 years ago, co-founded and co-directed by entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick.
Together Ulllman, professor of entomology, and Billick, trained as a scientist (genetics), formed a tight-knit talented team that taught Entomology 01 students about art and science. For nearly two decades, the duo taught students about such scientific subjects as honey bees, bumble bees and dragonflies, and then inspired them to create mosaic ceramics, paintings and other art work.
“Participants see and feel art and science, hold it in their hands, hearts and memories—in ceramics, painting, photographs, music, and textiles,” Ullman said.
Today the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program includes science faculty, design faculty, museum educators, professional artists and UC Davis students.
Tonight (Friday, June 6) marked the end of an era. At the celebration in Third Space, Davis, a crowd came to admire the work of the spring-quarter ENT 01 students and praise the accomplishments of Billick, who is retiring from the university at the end of June. Barring a financial miracle or a grant to save the program, the spring quarter marked Billick's last as an ENT 01 teacher.
Of their 17 years together, Ullman quipped: “Some marriages don't last that long.”
Billick praised the students' work and "their ability to connect the head through the heart through their hands. We created together and we communicated together… the students rocked this venture.”
The result: an internationally recognized program that continues to draw oohs and aahs, as well as and overseas invitations to speak. Much of the art is displayed throughout the campus, including the UC Davis Arboretum and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
As for Billick, she toyed with a scientific career before opting for a career that fuses art with science. She received her bachelor of science degree in genetics in 1973 and her master's degree in fine arts in 1977, studying art with such masters as Bob Arneson, Roy De Forest, Wayne Thiebaud and Manuel Neri.
Billick maintains a compound in Baja, where she teaches three workshops a year called "Heaven on Earth."
For outstanding teaching, Diane Ullman was recently selected the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Award in Teaching from the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America. She is now one of six candidates for the ESA Distinguished Teaching Award. ESA will select the recipient from one of six branches—Pacific, Eastern, North Central, Southeastern, Southwestern and International—and present the award at its Nov. 16-19 meeting in Portland, Ore.
Billick said she is grateful for the UC Davis experiences and the endless opportunities. "I'm looking forward to the next phase (of my life as an artist)," she said. "Please don't think of me as leaving; I'm spreading out.”