- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
One of the most prominent and distant--as in far away--visitors to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, was Mark Leech of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Leech visited the garden several years ago to research his book, Bee Friendly: A Planting Guide for European Honeybees and Australia Native Pollinators for the Australian Rural Industries R&D Corp (RIRDC).
"The book," he told us, "is to encourage planting for bee forage across the landscape from urban to the rural environment and all climate zones."
Leech recently provided us with a copy of the finished work, which is absolutely magnificent. It's informative, educational and colorful and is bound to make a difference.
On Page 1, he writes: "The world has become aware of the plight of the honeybee. The reported collapse of honeybee population in North America and Europe, and the fear of a food crisis, have led people around the world to become concerned. Shrinking resources, increased urbanization, ever expanding corporate agriculture with its push for monoculture, greater use of insecticides and herbicides, changes to grazing practices, a global warning trend and climatic chare are all placing pressure on honeybee and native pollinator population. It is in this context that this book was produced, to guide planting decisions in favour of plants theat benefit honeybees and native pollinatiors."
He devotes one page to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which was planted in the fall of 2009 and is operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "In response to colony collapse and threats to the US apiary industry, Häagen-Dazs, a well-known ice cream brand, launched the Häagen-Dazs Loves HoneyBees' campaign in February 2008, committing significant funding to both the University of California, Davis and Pennsylvania State University for honeybee research. Its contribution to UC Davis resulted in a bee garden as a demonstration, education and research tool."
"The purpose of the Honeybee Haven garden is to provide a year-round food source for honeybees," Leech continued. "One of the design criteria in the competition that was held was that the Honeybee Haven should inspire the development of honeybee garens in a variety of settings, including backyards, public gardens, agricultural easements, urban rooftoops and other urban species."
For the front and back covers of the book, Leech chose an mage of a bee foraging on a pink zinnia (a photo taken by yours truly in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven).
His species pages contain 193 species, native and exotic, "that were chosen to represent a selection of useful bee forage. Many of the plants are known as top producers of both pollen and nectar, a few are nectar only, and some are pollen only."
Among those contributing to the book from the United States: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture; bee scientist Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota; and Kathy Kellison, executive director of Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
It's a book well worth reading. You can download a free PDF of the book from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website at http://www.rirdc.gov.au/. Go to publications and look under honeybees. You can also order a bound copy through Mark Leech at email@example.com.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Eye-catching zinnias grace the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden planted in the fall of 2009 next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis.
The long-stemmed vibrant flowers attract honey bees from the Laidlaw apiary, neighboring bees, and assorted other pollinators, including sunflower bees (after all, zinnias belong to the sunflower family, Asteracae).
Last year the haven attracted the attention of Australian author Mark Leech, who was researching a book, Planting for Pollen and Nectar Supply for the Australian Rural Industries R&D Corp.
Leech, who lives in Lanceston, Tasmania, Australia, so far holds the record of traveling the greatest distance to visit the garden. The previous record-holder: beekeepers from Kentucky.
"The book," Leech wrote, "is to encourage planting for bee forage across the landscape from urban to the rural environment and all climate zones."
If you want to tour the garden, it's open from dawn to dusk--no admission. The key goals of the garden, the jewel of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the California Center for Urban Horticulture, are to provide bees with a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees; to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own; and to provide research opportunities.
Volunteer gardeners meticulously tend the garden every Friday morning. Sometimes you'll see them planting and watering on the weekends.
The art work in the haven is magnificent. Donna Billick of Davis, a self-described rock artist, created the 6-foot long ceramic sculpture of a worker bee. She and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman co-founded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, and spearheaded the art projects in the garden. The art itself is a magnet.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, monitors the garden for bees. To date, he's logged 70 different species of bees.
And some of them he found on zinnias.