The three men pause in front of the Kate Frey Pollinator Garden at the Sonoma Cornerstone and begin to read the sign.
"The Pollinator Garden by Kate Frey," one man reads out loud. "It's brand new, come back soon and watch as it grows. This flower-filled and colorful garden is a pollinator garden. All the plants offer food resources of pollen and nectar for pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Pollen is a protein, mineral and fat source and is primarily a larval food for bees, while nectar is composed of various sugars and is the main food for pollination and the adult life stage of many beneficial insects."
They watch the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds--buzzing, fluttering and swooshing--in a rush of colors.
"Beautiful garden," one says.
"Do you want to see a praying mantis?" I ask.
I had earlier spotted a mantis in the vegetation--a female Mantis religiosa (species identified by praying mantis expert Lohit Garikipati, a UC Davis entomology student who rears mantids).
Californians commonly see native mantids, Stagmomantis limbata and Stagmomantis californica, as well as this introduced one, M. religiosa.
"I don't see it," one of the men says. "Where is it?"
"There," I point. "Camouflaged."
"You have a good eye," he comments. "Wow, I haven't seen a praying mantis since I was a kid." He whips out his cell phone for a quick image.
The praying mantis made his day.
It's always a good day when you encounter a praying mantis.
Kate Frey, a resident of Hopland, is the author of the award-winning book, The Bee Friendly Garden, with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University, a book that details how to design an abundant, flower-filled garden that nurtures bees and supports biodiversity. She's a two-time gold medal winner at the Chelsea Flower Show and co-founder of The American Garden School. (Read this Bug Squad post to learn her favorite plants and how to attract pollinators.)
As Frey told the crowd at the 2018 UC Davis Bee Symposium, hosted last March by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: "Whether you plant them, nurture them, or walk through them, bee gardens make us happy."
They do, indeed. Praying mantids do, too.
It's always held the Friday before Mother's Day to promote awareness of North America's public gardens. The non-profit American Public Gardens Association of Pennsylvania established the observance in 2009.
Want to celebrate it at the University of California, Davis?
The Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Davis campus, has scheduled an open house on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Here's what's planned, according to bee garden manager Christine Casey:
- Bee observation and ID demonstrations for kids of all ages
- Bee and plant experts to answer your questions
- Learn what and how to plant to help bees
- Learn about home food gardens and bees
- Free sunflower plants while they last
- Free parking at the garden
- Difficult-to-find bee plants for sale. (See plant inventory.)
A little history:
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 their assignment ended. At the $10 minimum wage, that would have amounted to $52,290.
Native bee specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, who has monitored the garden since its very beginnings, has identified more than 80 bee species there.
If you visit the garden on Saturday, odds are you'll see many different species, including honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, and sweat bees, as well as butterflies and dragonflies.
The haven, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus, will celebrate with an open house that night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The garden tour begins r at 6. Free sunflower plants will be given while they last. Parking is free.
- Learn how to catch and observe bees up close, and see honey bees at work in an observation beehive.
- Hear from experts on such subjects as bee diversity and identification, and how to create a garden to help bees.
- Listen to children's book readings about bees and gardens
The half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven was installed in the fall of 2009 under the leadership of then interim Entomology Department chair Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology. Fast forward to today. Christine Casey serves as the staff director of the haven, and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño is the faculty director.
There is much to see at the haven. A six-foot-long worker bee sculpture anchors the garden. It is the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, who specializes in mosaic ceramic art. Billick and UC Davis entomology professor Diane Ullman co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, which spearheaded the student/community art in the garden. See history of the garden.
And National Public Gardens Day? What is it? The sponsor, the American Public Gardens Association, "serves public gardens and advances them as leaders, advocates, and innovators." As told on the website: "
"A public garden is an institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning. It must be open to the public and the garden's resources and accommodations must be made to all visitors."
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. Check out the website for group tours and educational information, including what's planted in the garden and helpful hints about what you can plant in yours.
That's what will happen on Thursday, April 28 during the annual "Take Your Daughters and Sons to Work" day at the University of California, Davis.
The UC Davis event, nicknamed TODS Day, coincides with the national workplace celebration, a day when employers spring open their doors to the offspring of their employees.
"Kids will have the opportunity to see how our UC Davis community functions, instructs, learns and grows," a spokesperson said.
Insects? Not to worry. Yes, there will be insects. The Department of Entomology and Nematology is planning special activities at its Bohart Museum of Entomology and at its bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. The Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, plus a live "petting zoo," is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane. The half-acre bee garden is located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
"The haven will have activities for Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day from 11:30 to 1:30," reports Christine Casey, staff director of the haven. "Learn how to safely catch and observe bees, learn about bee diversity, and have your lunch in our picnic area."
Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum, says the Bohart will be open to TODS participants in the afternoon from 2 to 5. Education interns from EDU 142, an environmental education class, will provide insect life cycle activities. Visitors can hold and photograph the critters in the pettzing zoo, including walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches and rose-haired tarantulas.
Among the many things to do:
- Make pottery and grind acorns with the Anthropology department.
- Experience what it's like to work in agriculture and plant some vegetables to bring home.
- Enjoy a reprise of the famous Picnic Day Chemistry Show.
- Meet the UC Davis dairy cows.
- Listen and dance to Band-Uh and explore the “Instrument Zoo.”
- Explore Chinese culture with Chinese crafts and food at the Confucius Institute.
- Visit feathered friends at the Raptor Center.
- Taste honey and see how wine is made at the Robert Mondavi Wine and Food Science Center.
- Enjoy a “Walk in the Woods with Chemistry.”
- Check out the famous double-decker buses and see UC Davis keeps them running.
- Get a peek at animal skins, nests, eggs, and skeletons collected by scientists/explorers from creatures around the world at the Museum of Wildlife and Fish Biology.
- Discover plants from the world's deserts and tropical forests, some which are carnivorous!
- Sound the police siren and spray the fire hose at the police and fire atations.
- See what it's like to be an Aggie football player and experience the stadium from inside-out.
- Check out the tiny world of plants and animals through the eyes of a microscope .
- Explore the backstage of the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts.
- Explore the artifacts, bones, stones and pottery at the Archaeology Lab.
Educational. Informative. Entertaining. And there's an added bonus: It's an opportunity for youngsters to envision their own future.
The UC Davis Departmentof Entomology and Nematology has scheduled a fifth anniversary celebration of its bee garden on Saturday, May 2.
It's difficult to believe that the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is five years old. But it is, and the event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The half-acre bee garden, planted in the fall of 2009, is located on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. A public ceremony will be held from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department, will welcome the crowd at 10:30 a.m. Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, was the interim chair of the department and directed and organized the installation of the garden. It was planted in 2009, thanks to a generous donation from Häagen-Dazs. More than 50 percent of their ice cream flavors depend on pollination.
Raj Brahmbhatt, associate brand manager of Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream at Nestle USA, Dreyer's Ice Cream company, will speak at 10:50 a.m. on “What the Haven Means to Us.”
Christine Casey, manager of the haven, will discuss “What Your Donations Mean to the Haven” at 11:15.
What can you do in the bee garden? Walk the paths. Admire the flowers. Admire the pollinators. Learn how to observe and identify bees, what to plant to help bees, and how to use native bee houses. There also will be beekeeping demonstrations and garden tours.
The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day. Admission is free. Tours (a nominal fee is charged) can be arranged with Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org. To book a tour, access the website and click on "Visit Us."
The design is the work of a Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotak--the winners of the international design competition.
Read more about the garden here! How it all began, who the founding manager was and the honor she and the 19 volunteer gardeners received, and who built the state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
We remember when it was an open field with jack rabbits bounding through the tall grass and red-tailed hawks circling above. The rabbits still bound (but not inside the garden) and the hawks still circle looking for prey.