What's a honey bee to do when one of her favorite flowers, cape mallow (Anisodontea sp. "Strybing Beauty") is not open for bees-ness.
Well, leave it to the bee to find a way.
We recently witnessed a honey bee encountering a yet-to-open flower in the early morning. No entry! No way? And right at the beginning of National Honey Month, too. (USDA's National Honey Board founded the event in 1989 to celebrate the beekeeping industry and honey.)
As for Anisodontea, it's a perennial shrub that likes full sun.
It likes bees that pollinate it, too. It just closes at night and reopens in the morning.
Interested in keeping bees or knowing more about bees? The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) lists a number of bee classes on its website. The program, launched and directed by Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, educates and trains bee ambassadors. You can become a Master Beekeeper and "communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators" within your community and serve as mentor for other beekeepers. Master Beekeepers are the "informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and the UC Cooperative Extension staff," according to Niño and program manager Wendy Mather on their website. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.)
Currently available are three online courses or webinars:
- Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/730
- Saturday, Oct 9, 2021, 10 a.m. to noon
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/739
- Saturday, Oct 16, 2021, 9 a.m. to noon, South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine
- Event details
- Register here: https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/733
Unlike flowers that close, the California Master Beekeeping Program does not, despite the COVID-19 pandemic that continues to grip us. CAMBP has just found another way--online.
It's not just honey bees that forage among the cape mallows in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis.
The brilliant magenta flowers also draw assorted other insects.
Such as flies...hover flies.
Last weekend, before the rains hit, we spotted a lone hover fly, aka flower fly, visiting the cape mallow.
The cape mallow (Anisodontea hypomadarum), a native of South Africa, is not an earlier bloomer or a late bloomer--it's a year-around bloomer. It's an evergreen shrub that holds its own.
And honey bees, carpenter bees, bumble bees, sweat bees, hover flies, butterflies, praying mantids and assorted other insects...
One of the spectacular plants blooming in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden at the University of California, Davis, is the cape mallow (Anisodontea hypomandarum), a native of South Africa.
The paperylike pink blossoms attract a good number of bees--no, a great number of bees. That's because of two reasons: (1) the haven is located right next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road and its 60 colonies, and (2) bees love--absolutely love--cape mallow.
The haven is designed to serve several purposes: to be a year-around food source for the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees; to provide an educational experience for visitors who can learn what to plant in their own gardens; and to serve as a research garden.
Special attractions at the haven--it's open year-around and admission is free--are the six-foot-long ceramic bee sculpture, the work of Davis artist Donna Billick; the two bee hive columns that grace the entrance to the garden, and the ceramic bench tiles showcasing bees and flowers. The bee hive columns and tiles are the work of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by Billick and UC Davis entomologist Diane Ullman.
If you go--and you should--check out the cape mallow. The flowers are so drop-dead gorgeous that surely they must be replicated somewhere on an an exotic silk dress or shirt.
With honey bees foraging on them.