You may have lost track of the hours, days, weeks and months due to the coronavirus pandemic, but how can you forget National Pollinator Week?
Especially if you've ventured out in your yard, garden or park and witnessed the pollinators doing what they do best.
National Pollinator Week, set June 22-28, is a "time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what you can do to protect them," according to the sponsor, Pollinator Partnership.
As they write on their website: "Thirteen years ago the U.S. Senate's unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as 'National Pollinator Week' marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles."
So, what can you do to observe Pollinator Week? The Pollinator Partnership says this year won't be a "typical Pollinator Week."
"We urge everyone to hold a socially distant, appropriate event. In an effort to lighten the load on state governments during this time, we are not pursuing formal state proclamations this year, but will continue to post proclamations that we do receive. Moreover, we encourage everyone to go outside and spend some time with the bees and butterflies that inspire hope in many."
And, when we think of Pollinator Week, we think of the honey bee totally dusted with pollen on a blanket flower, Gaillardia, in our pollinator garden in Vacaville, Calif.
The bee just couldn't get enough of the pollen.
We just couldn't get enough photos. Bravo, Ms. Honey Bee!
If you've been thinking about blanketing your garden with blanketflower (Gaillardia), you're in luck.
The UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden is hosting a spring plant sale from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 10 at its Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive, located across from the School of Veterinary Medicine.
And Gaillardia will be available.
The one-ace nursery "has an incredible selection of Arboretum All-Stars, California natives, and thousands of other attractive, low-water plants perfect for creating a landscape alive with environmentally important pollinators," officials said.
Gaillardia is a favorite among pollinators, including honey bees, bumble bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and syrphid or hover flies. You'll see them buzz, fly or flutter over to it. It's a member of the sunflower family Asteraceae, and native to North and South America. Named for M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate and botany enthusiast, the plant is commonly called "blanketflower"--probably because it's reminiscent of the colorful blankets crafted by the native American Indians.
The genus includes dozens of species. Among those available at the UC Davis plant sale are Gaillardia 'Celebration'; Gaillardia 'Red Sun'; and Gaillardia x grandiflora or 'Arizona apricot.'
The plant sale is a "Membership Only Appreciation Sale," but you can become a member online now or at the gate on Saturday. Members receive 10 percent off their purchases and an additional $10-member appreciation gift. New members will receive an additional $10-off coupon as a thank you for joining. Davis Botanical Society members also receive a 10 percent discount on their plant sale purchases.
Here's a list (PDF) of what's being offered.
Plant them and they (the pollinators) will come. And sometimes you'll see a little predator-prey interaction--like a praying mantis lying in wait--but that's okay, too. Everybody eats!
Whenever folks post photos of praying mantids, their readers expect to see prey.
You know, the hapless bee or butterfly that made the fatal mistake of getting too close to those spiked forelegs.
This praying mantis (below) appeared to have been a hapless victim of another predator. It, still however, kept that praying mantis pose as it tried to find prey on a blanketflower (Gaillardia). And it still rotated its head 180 degrees.
Praying mantis belong to the order, Mantodea, which includes more than 2400 species and about 430 genera in 15 families, according to Wikipedia.
"They are distributed worldwide in temperate and tropical habitats. Most of the species are in the family Mantidae," Wikipedia tells us. "Females sometimes practice sexual cannibalism, eating their mate after, or occasionally decapitating the male just before mating."
Did you know that the closest relatives of mantids are termites and cockroaches (Blattodea)? And that they are sometimes "confused with stick insects (Phasmatodea) and other elongated insects such as grasshoppers (Orthoptera), or other insects with raptorial forelegs such as mantisflies (Mantispidae)?" Check out Wikipedia's entry for praying mantids.
Praying mantids live about a year. This one lived about five hours before it expired.
But not before it gave a honey bee the fright of her life.
The first day of May calls for a little color.
And the blanket flower (Gaillardia) fills the bill. Native to North and South America, it's a member of the sunflower family, Asteraceae.
Its delightful yellow and red flowers remind us of the Native American Indian blankets. It was named, however, for Frenchman M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, who is often described as "an 18th century French magistrate, patron of botany, naturalist, amateur botanist, and member of the Académie des Sciences."
The blanket flower was among the first flowers planted at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre UC Davis bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
If you're around Davis on Saturday, May 2, stop at the haven for the fifth anniversary celebration, set from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 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.
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.
Public events at the haven through 2 p.m. will include discussions on how to observe and identify bees, what to plant to help bees, and how you can help the bees (leafcutter bees and mason bees) by providing bee condos. There also will be beekeeping demonstrations and garden tours. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, will show the unforgettable male Valley carpenter bee (blond with green eyes), which he fondly calls "the teddy bear bee." It's all warm and fuzzy. And it doesn't sting, because, as Thorp points out, "it's a boy bee."