Celebrating the15th Anniversary of the UC Davis Bee Haven

Chris Casey, the manager of the UC Davis Bee Haven, talks to a youngster at an open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Chris Casey, the manager of the UC Davis Bee Haven, talks to a youngster at an open house. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The place to "bee" on Saturday, April 6 is the UC Davis Bee Haven.

That's when the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will celebrate the 15th anniversary of its bee garden with an open house from 10 a.m. to noon. It's free and family friendly.

The half-acre garden is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.

The open house will include a tour of the garden at 11 a.m.; catch-and-release bee activity to observe bees up close; information about low-water plants; and presentations on University of California pollinator research.

Open from dawn to dusk (free admission), the Bee Haven is described as "a unique outdoor museum that provides resources for local bee pollinators, inspires and educates visitors to create pollinator habitat gardens, and provides a site for the observation and study of bees and the plants that support them."

Director of the garden is Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension - Apiculture, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Christine Casey is the manager, the academic program management officer.

The garden was installed in the fall of 2009, under the tenure of interim department chair Lynn Kimsey, now UC Davis distinguished professor emerita, and with primary funds from the Häagen-Dazs ice cream brand.  Featuring a series of interconnected gardens with names like “Honeycomb Hideout,” “Nectar Nook” and “Pollinator Patch,” it was designed to provide the Laidlaw honey bees with a year-around food source, raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, and serve as a research site.

“This garden is a living laboratory to educate, inspire and engage people of all ages in the serious work of helping to save honey bees,” said Dori Bailey, then director of Haagen-Dazs Consumer Communications. 

A honey bee and a yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, share a coneflower at the UC Davis Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A female long-horned digger bee, Svastra obliqua expurgata, foraging on purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The design is the brainchild of Sausalito-area landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker; interpretative planner Jessica Brainard; and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki, who teamed to win the international design competition. 

Art graces the garden, thanks to the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by entomologist-artist Diane Ullman, UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology; and Davis-based artist Donna Billick. Billick, a self-described "rock artist," sculpted the six-foot-long worker bee that anchors the haven.  Students and area residents crafted the bee-motif ceramic tiles that line a bench, which also includes the names of major donors. 

A mural featuring native bees graces the shed in the garden. It was a project of the Entomology 1 class, "Art, Science and the World of Insects," taught by Ullman and Billick. Then doctoral student Sarah Dalrymple of the Rick Karban lab,  served as the graphics project coordinator and teaching assistant, guiding the students on design, creation and installation of the panels. She went on to be named the 2011 recipient of the UC Davis Outstanding Graduate  Student Teaching Award and praised for fusing the boundaries of biology, art and culture. 

The Bee Haven came to "bee" after officials at the Haagen-Dazs read a research news story on honey bees, written by communication specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey and telephoned her. The article, on "building a better bee," chronicled the plight of honey bees and the work of bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, then manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and now with Washington State University. Haagen-Dazs served as the primary donor of the garden and also funded the Häagen-Dazs Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Davis. It went to Michelle Flenniken, an insect virus researcher based at UC San Francisco. She is now a professor at Montana State University.

Sausalito Team Wins Design Competition 

Grand Opening Celebration of Honey Bee Garden

Eagle Scout Project: Fence Around the Bee Garden 

Campus Buzzway: Wildflowers

Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven: Sacramento Bee Award
(With photo of founding volunteers) 

Shedding Light on Native Bees

For more information on the UC Davis Bee Haven, access the website at https://beegarden.ucdavis.edu.