The bee world exemplifies diversity and the UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month, being celebrated throughout the month of February, wouldn't exemplify diversity without them.
One of the pre-recorded presentations just uploaded on the Biodiversity Museum site deals with bees in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
The presentation, by bee garden manager Christine Casey, is an introduction to common bees found in urban gardens of Central California.
Many people are unaware that there are some 20,000 species of bees worldwide. Of that number, 4000 species are found in North America and 1600 species in California.
The late Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, was the go-to person to identify bees, and we all miss him. Thorp, a member of the UC Davis entomology faculty for 30 years, from 1964-1994, achieved emeritus status in 1994 but continued to engage in research, teaching and public service until a few weeks before his death at age 85. A tireless advocate of pollinator species protection and conservation, Thorp was known for his expertise, dedication and passion in protecting native pollinators, especially bumble bees, and for his teaching, research and public service. He was an authority on pollination ecology, ecology and systematics of honey bees, bumble bees, vernal pool bees, conservation of bees, native bees and crop pollination, and bees of urban gardens and agricultural landscapes.
In his retirement, Thorp co-authored two books Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University, 2014) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday, 2014). Locally, he was active in research projects and open houses at the Bohart Museum of Entomology and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. In his research, he monitored bees in the half-acre haven, establishing a baseline in 2008, a year before the garden was installed. He eventually detected more than 80 species of bees in the garden.
Casey's presentation, billed as "Bees 101," documents some of the bees found in the garden, with colorful photos by the talented Allan Jones of Davis. Access the presentation at https://youtu.be/5KLrTIclx2A. Casey also will be delivering a live talk, with questions and answers, from 12:15 to 12:45 on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Click here to obtain the Zoom link.
Other UC Davis Biodiversity Museum Month live talks and demonstrations will range from Asian giant hornets (1 to 2 p.m. Feb. 18 by Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology) to ants (11 a.m., to noon, Feb. 20 by Professor Phil Ward) to a program on the Botanical Conservatory (1 to 2 p.m., Feb. 24 by collections manager Ernesto Sandoval). To obtain the Zoom links, click here. The Botanical Conservatory presentation will be in Spanish. Sandoval earlier presented the program in English.
Note: If you'd like to donate to the UC Davis Diversity Museum Program in its crowdfunding efforts--this year is the 10th annual--click here. To donate to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, click here. To donate to the California Master Beekeeper Program, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, click here. Niño also serves as the director of the haven.
Let's put the "bee" in bee-cause.
Meanwhile, as anyone who's been around bees knows, bees are not only absolutely fascinating, but thoroughly riveting.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology operates and maintains the half-acre bee garden, located on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. It is open from dawn to dusk; admission is free.
The garden is directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and managed by Christine Casey, academic program management officer.
While parents learned about bees and plants, youngsters engaged in a catch-a-bee-release-the-bee activity in the vegetation, using a bee vacuum. They scooped up the foragers, looked at them, and released them.
"Hey, I caught the queen bee," said one boy, unaware that the queen was in her hive, busily laying eggs. During the busy season, a queen bee can lay about 1000 eggs a day, and during the peak season, about 2000 eggs a day.
The garden, installed in the fall of 2009, was founded and "came to life" during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project.
A Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki--won the design competition.
The half-acre bee garden is anchored by Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long mosaic ceramic bee sculpture that is the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. She and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. The art in the garden is the work of their students, ranging from those in Entomology 1 class to community residents. Eagle Scout Derek Tully planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
The garden is named for the primary donor, the premium ice cream brand, Haagen-Dazs. Other major donors include the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (under the leadership of then State Regent Debra Jamison of Fresno). Names of many of the donors--those who gave $1000 or more--are inscribed beneath the Miss Bee Haven sculpture.
Missy Borel Gable, now director of the statewide UC California Master Gardeners' Program, served as the founding manager of the garden. Under her leadership and the work of the 19 founding volunteers, the bee garden was listed as one of the Sacramento Bee's top 10 garden destinations. The 19 volunteers chalked up 5,229 hours of service between May 2010 and Feb. 15, 2013, when they opted for other opportunities. At the $10 minimum wage, that would have amounted to $52,290.
Native bee specialist Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified more than 80 bee species in the garden.
Today diversity continues. An addition to the garden since its installation is a live bee colony.
So says beekeeper/journalist Kim Flottum, who has served as the editor of Bee Culture magazine for more than three decades.
Flottum will speak on "So You Want to Be a Beekeeper" at the third annual California Honey Festival on Saturday, May 4 in downtown Woodland, and it's a talk you won't want to miss. He'll speak at 11:30 a.m. on the UC Davis Educational Stage. Admission to the fair is free.
Also in his talk, he'll clue you in on "where to get information, what can go wrong and what can go right," and then you can ask questions.
We asked Flottum why folks should keep bees. They "provide essential pollination, improve the genetics of the wild bee population in the area, ensure native plant populations," he said, "and because there is absolutely nothing more calming, soothing, enjoyable than being a part of that civilization, right in your backyard."
We remember when Flottum, who lives in northeast Ohio, addressed the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, held in 2017 at UC Davis. He predicted that the nation's 250,000 beekeepers (who manage around 4 million colonies) will turn into a million beekeepers in five years.
Flottum applauded "the incredible rise of new beekeepers in the last 10 years." He launched the magazine BEEKeeping, Your First Three Years, several years ago.
Beekeepers are becoming more and more diverse, specializing in honey production, pollination services and queen bee breeding. Pollination services and queen bee breeding are the most profitable, Flottum said. Honey, not so much.
"If I'm in beekeeping, pollination services is sure bet," he said. "Beekeepers now get 200 bucks a colony for almond pollination in California. Pollination is more profitable than honey. Bee breeding? Queens can sell for as much as $40 or $50."
"In the United States, we eat on the average 1.2 pounds a year, but in Canada, it's 2.5 or 2.4 pounds." He lamented that unsafe and/or questionable honey from China floods our nation's supermarkets and is being sold at undercut prices. (Some statistics indicate that a "third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals"--Food Safety News.)
It's important for American beekeepers to label their honey "Made in America" or localize it by city or state, he said.
Flottum also touched on such issues as honey bee health, nutrition, loss of habitat, poor quality forage, and pesticides.
The varroa mite/virus is the No. 1 problem for beekeepers, he said. "Other stresses include nutrition, nosema, pesticides...All of these can be fixed with money, increased diversity of bee stock, and a move way from both ag and in-hive legal and illegal chemicals."
The California Honey Festival, sponsored by the City of Woodland the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will include scores of activities, from honey tasting to live music. Among the events: a cooking stage, the UC Davis educational stage, a kids' zone, a refreshment zone (beer and mead, which is honey wine) and live entertainment. (See the schedule)
UC Davis Educational Stage
- 10:15 a.m. "What is a Bee City?" by Kitty Bolte of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
- 11 a.m. Bee Tent Demonstration, by staff research associate Bernardo Niño of the Elina Niño lab, UC Davis, who will open a hive inside a screened tent
- 11:30 a.m. "So, You Want to be a Beekeeper?" by Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture
- 12:30 p.m. "The Huge Impact of Native Bees" by pollination ecologist and professor Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- 1:15 p.m. Bee Tent Demonstration by Bernardo Niño
- 2 p.m. "Mead: The Oldest Alcoholic Beverage Known to Man...so What Is It?" Dan Slord
- 2:45 p.m. "Gardening the Urban Landscape" by Christine Casey, manager of the UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven
- 3:30 p.m. Bee Tent Demonstration by Bernardo Niño
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, said that Kitty Bolte, the first speaker on the UC Davis Educational Stage, will welcome Woodand as a "Bee City." Plans also call for UC Davis to be named "Bee University" on Saturday, Harris said. "Rachel Davis, director of the Gateway Gardens, Arboretum has been spearheading this designation."
Master beekeepers in the California Master Beekeeper Program, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, will share information on bees and beekeeping throughout the festival. Bernardo Niño is the educational supervisor, and Wendy Mather serves as the program manager.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven will feature a pollinator garden installation highlighting what and how to plant for pollinators, along with displays about common bees found in gardens, according to Christine Casey, academic program management officer who manages the bee garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Launched in 2017, the festival aims to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, according Harris. Last year's festival drew 30,000 people and some 16 California honey companies.
The California Honey Festival's mission: to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
As it expands from year to year, with more speakers, vendors, entertainment and family-friendly activities, the California Honey Festival is the place to "bee."
And what better time for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to host an open house than during National Pollinator Week?
It's from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 23 at its bee garden, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus.
Here's what you can expect to see or do:
- learn how 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
- learn about growing and good pollination in home fruit gardens
- see easy-to-grow bee plants and solitary bee houses available for a donation to the garden.
A Little History: The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, installed in the fall of 2009 and located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road, is a half-acre garden devoted to bee pollinator conservation and education.
It was founded and sprang to life during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project.
A Sausalito team – landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki – won the design competition. The judges were Professor Kimsey; founding garden manager Missy Borel (now Missy Borel Gable), then of the California Center for Urban Horticulture; David Fujino, executive director, California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis; Aaron Majors, construction department manager, Cagwin & Dorward Landscape Contractors, based in Novato; Diane McIntyre, senior public relations manager, Häagen-Dazs ice cream; Heath Schenker, professor of environmental design, UC Davis; Jacob Voit, sustainability manager and construction project manager, Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Others with a key role in the founding and "look" of the garden included the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by the duo of entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long worker bee sculpture, the work of Billick, anchors the garden. The art in the garden is the work of their students, ranging from those in Entomology 1 class to community residents. Eagle Scout Derek Tully planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
Today. Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, serves as the faculty advisor and director of the garden. Staff member Christine Casey is the academic program management officer. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, plays a key role in the garden. Thorp has recorded more than 80 species of bees foraging in the garden since 2009. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday). Of the 20,000 bee species identified worldwide, some 4000 are found in the United States, and 1600 in California.
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.