Posts Tagged: bees
Today is Wednesday, Dec. 31, 2014 the last day of the year.
Looking back, it was a year of wonder in our pollinator garden, a year filled with flourishing lavender, salvia, catmint, honeysuckle, lantana, passionflower vine, foxgloves, cosmos, California poppies, rock purslane, basil and oregano, with three towers of jewels (Echium wildpretii) anchoring the garden. The bees sipped nectar, praying mantids ate the bees, bluejays ate the praying mantids, and hawks ate the bluejays. As we watched the hawks splash in our birdbath, we wondered about the bees, jays and mantids that were all part of this circle of life that happened in our garden.
New Year's Eve. It's a time not to make resolutions, but renewals. It's a time to refocus and recharge; to sharpen the focus and recharge the batteries; to see Mother Nature snag a little more of Father Time.
So, Bug Squad on the last day of 2014 will include four photos of two Gulf Fritillaries becoming one. These Gulf Frits (Agraulis vanillae) provided us with eggs, larvae, chrysalids and more adults. They, along with the other pollinators that inhabit our garden, make our flowers complete, our garden complete and our lives complete.
May all your gardens be filled with the buzz, the flutter and the whirl of pollinators in 2015!
Happy New Year!
Two Gulf Fritillaries becoming one in the lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A showstopping move and a show of orange. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Spreading the wings! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Soon there will be eggs, larvae, chrysalids and more adults. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Add "California" to it and you have California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
It's a book that's well-planned, well-executed, well-written and well-photographed.
Bees are hungry. What plants will attract them? How can you entice them to your garden and encourage them not only to visit but to live there?
The book, the first of its kind, profiles some of the most common bee genera found in California gardens; their preferred plants, both native and non-native; and how to attract them.
Most folks are familiar with honey bees and bumble bees. But what about the other bees, such as mining, leafcutting, sweat, carpenter, digger, masked, longhorned, mason and polyester bees?
Published by the nonprofit Heyday Books in collaboration with the California Native Plant Society, the book is the work of four scientists closely linked to UC Berkeley: urban entomologist Gordon Frankie, a professor and research entomologist at UC Berkeley; native pollinator specialist and emeritus professor Robbin Thorp of UC Davis (he received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley); insect photographer and entomologist Rollin Coville, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley; and botanist/curator Barbara Ertter of UC Berkeley.
“This book is about urban California's bees: what they are, how and where they live, their relationships with ornamental flowers, and how to attract them to urban gardens,” they wrote. “It was written in the urgency of knowing that bees are critical to the health of our natural, ornamental and agricultural landscapes and that populations of some, perhaps many are in rapid decline.”
Frankie studies behavioral ecology of solitary bees in wildland, agricultural and urban environments of California and Costa Rica. He teaches conservation and environmental issues. He is involved in how people relate to bees and their plants and how to raise human awareness about bee-plant relationships.
Co-author Robbin Thorp, who retired in 1994 after 30 years of teaching, research and mentoring graduate students, continues to conduct research on pollination biology and ecology, systematics, biodiversity and conservation of bees, especially bumble bees. He is one of the instructors at the The Bee Course, affiliated with the American Museum of Natural History and held annually at the Southwestern Research Station, Portal, Ariz. The course is geared for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who seek greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees.
“The book is profusely illustrated with photos and drawings of bees and flowers, especially notable are the magnificent close-up images of bees by co-author Rollin Coville,” Thorp said.
Ertter thoroughly explores the anatomy of a flower. Bees and flowers constitute what the authors delightfully describe as "a love affair."
California's bees differ in size, shape and color, as do the flowers they visit. “The tiniest bees are ant-sized; the largest rival small birds,” the authors wrote. “Some are iridescent green or blue, some are decked out with bright stripes, some are covered with fuzzy-looking hairs.”
“Nature has programmed bees to build nests and supply their young with nutritious pollen and nectar, and their unique methods for collecting these resources are fascinating to observe. Their lives are dictated by season, weather and access to preferred flower types and nesting habitat.”
California Bees and Blooms lists 53 of urban California's best bee attractors identified through the Urban California Native Bee Survey. Among them: aster, bluebeard, catmint, California lilac or Ceanothus, cosmos, California sunflower, red buckwheat, California poppy, blanket flower, oregano, rosemary, lavender, gum plant, and salvia (sage). With each plant, they provide a description; origin and natural habitat, range and use in California; flowering season; resource for bees (such as pollen and nectar), most frequent bee visitors, bee ecology and behavior and gardening tips.
The book offers tips on how readers can “think like a bee.” It devotes one chapter to “Beyond Bee Gardening: Taking Action on Behalf of Native Bees.” In addition, the book provides quotes on bees and/or bee gardens from Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (retired) of UC Davis: Ellen Zagory, horticulture director of the UC Davis Arboretum; and Kate Frey of Hopland, a designer of sustainable, insect-friendly gardens throughout California and in some parts of the world.
For more data on the book, the authors, and purchase information, access the publisher's website at https://heydaybooks.com/book/california-bees-and-blooms/.
And for ongoing research on California's bees and blooms, be sure to check out the UC Berkeley website, appropriately named www.helpabee.org..
A honey bee and yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenski, share a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp with a copy of the book. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bees and the Blue Angels...
Honey bees sometimes seem to fly in formation over such plants as flowering artichokes, but their precision--if you could call it that--never matches that of the Blue Angels.
For one, the pollen-packing bees are wobbly and bump into one another. But they always seem to know where they're going and how to get there. They're the pride and joy of the agricultural world as they collect pollen and nectar.
The Blue Angels' flight demonstration squadron is the pride and joy of the U.S. Navy. In fact, their mission is " to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach."
The Blue Angels' show drew thousands of spectators on Sunday in San Francisco. We watched the aerobatics from the deck on the Flying Fish charter sportsfishing boat. We we all surged with patriotism, excitement and awe as the Blue Angels maneuvered their Hornets into diamond and delta formations, solos, slow passes, barrel rolls and tight turns.
Honey bees engage in their own kind of air show as they carry their pollen and nectar back to the hive. They don't do diamond and delta formations or barrel rolls, but back at the hive, they know how to perform waggle and round dances, making slow passes and tight turns.
Honey bee "squadron" aiming for the flowering artichokes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue Angels maneuvering their Hornets into a diamond formation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bees buzzing by, performing their solo missions. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue Angels roar past the city of San Francisco. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mark your calendar.
The Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus is planning an open house on "How to Be an Entomologist" from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27. The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building, Crocker Lane, off LaRue Road.
The event is free and open to the public and is family friendly. This is the first of nine open houses during the 2014-15 academic year.
Plans call for a number of UC Davis entomologists to participate--to show and explain their work, said Bohart Museum director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
"We will have a pinning and butterfly and moth spreading ongoing workshop with Jeff Smith and tips on how to rear insects," said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Smith, an entomologist in Sacramento, is a longtime donor and volunteer at the Bohart.
Representatives from the labs of molecular geneticist Joanna Chiu, assistant professor; bee scientist Brian Johnson, assistant professor; ant specialist Phil Ward, professor; insect demographer James R. Carey, distinguished professor; and integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor and current president of the 7000-member Entomological Society of America will share their research.
The Johnson lab will provide a bee observation hive, and Cindy Preto of the Zalom lab will be sharing her research on leafhoppers. The Carey lab will show student-produced videos, including how to make an insect collection, and one-minute entomology presentations (students showcasing an insect in one minute). The Ward lab will be involved in outside activities, demonstrating how to collect ants. Entomology students will be on hand to show visitors how to use collecting devices, including nets, pitfall traps and yellow pans.
Other entomologists may also participate. "There will be a lot going on inside the Bohart and outside the Bohart," Yang said. "It will be very hands-on."
The Bohart Museum, founded by noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007), houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens and boasts the seventh largest insect collection in North America. It also houses the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The museum's gift shop (on location and online) includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them. The newest residents of the petting zoo are Texas Gold-Banded millipedes, Orthoporus ornatus, which are native to many of the southwestern United States, including Texas.
“They're a great addition to the museum's petting zoo,” Kimsey said. “They are very gentle and great for demonstrations of how millipedes walk and how they differ from centipedes.”
Millipede enthusiast Evan White, who does design and communications for the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and is a frequent presenter at the Bohart's open houses, recently obtained the arthropods from a collector in Texas. “Texas Gold-Banded millipedes are naive to many of the Southwestern United States, not just Texas,” he said.
Contrary to popular belief, millipedes are not dangerous. “There is much public confusion about the difference between millipedes and centipedes--not because the two look similar, but because the terms are used interchangeably when not connected to a visual,” White said.
He described millipedes as non-venomous, and relatively slow moving, with cylindrical bodies, two pairs of legs per body segment, and herbivorous. “In fact, they are more like decomposers – they do well on rotting vegetation, wood, etc.--the scientific word for is ‘detritivore.' Most millipedes are toxic if consumed, some even secrete a type of cyanide when distressed. The point being: don't lick one.”
In contract, centipedes are venomous, fast-moving insects with large, formidable fangs, and one pair of legs per body segment. “They are highly carnivorous, although some will eat bananas. Go figure. And they are often high-strung and aggressive if provoked.”
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, and millipede enthusiast Evan White, both of UC Davis, show Texas Gold-Banded mllipedes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up shot of Texas Gold-Banded millipedes. Millipedes are arthropods. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The Bohart Museum is home to nearly eight million insect specimens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's a glorious day, the first day of spring, and what better time to mark the occasion by visiting the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive?
Mother Earth, a mosaic ceramic sculpture by talented Donna Billick of Davis, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, overlooks a thriving garden populated with honey bees, butterflies, sweat bees, syrphid flies, and ladybugs.
Today we saw the mournful dusky-wing butterfly (Erynnis tristis), the first of the year. (How ironic a butterfly with such a sad name would be in the garden the first day of spring!) The more colorful painted ladies (Vanessa cardui) arrived earlier this month. (See the Central California butterfly monitoring site of Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at UC Davis for more information on butterflies and his research.)
The UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery attracts scores of pollinators with such plants as ceanothus, salvia, California fuchsia, cut-leaf lilac, rosemary, bulbine and Spanish lavender.
Meanwhile, the officials at the teaching nursery are gearing up for their next public plant sales, set for three Saturdays: April 5, April 26 and May 17 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Garden and irrigation experts will offer guidance for what to plant in your garden, including the Arboretum All-Stars, and offer advice on drought-related resources. A plant doctor clinic is also planned. (Members say 10 percent on plant sales.)
While you're browsing through the plants, don't overlook the pollinators! Indeed, they may just nudge you into buying a specific plant...
A honey bee foraging on ceanothus in the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A painted lady, Vanessa carduii, finds a cut-leaf lilac, Syringa × laciniata, quite attractive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Check out the pollen on this honey bee foraging on ceanothus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A mournful dusky-wing butterfly (Erynnis tristis) on Spanish lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Mother Earth, a mosaic ceramic sculpture by Donna Billick of Davis, overlooks the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A torrent of emotions on the face of Mother Earth, the work of artist Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)