Posts Tagged: honey bee
This week (June 22-28) is National Pollinator Week, and what better time to celebrate the honey bee than now?
The White House Victory Garden, planted the first day of spring on part of the South Lawn, now has thousands of new residents: honey bees (Apis mellifera).
The two bee hives are a joy to see. America's First Family has First Hives in its First Garden with First Bees that will soon provide First Honey. The "commander-in-chef" will add First Honey to the White House favorite recipes.
Frankly, the South Lawn has never looked so good. The Rose Garden, where many a press conference takes place, pales in comparison. The Victory Garden is a victory for sustainable agriculture, nutrition, education, the economy and the environment--not to mention the incredible feeling of accomplishment and the surpassed taste of freshly picked vegetables.
UC Davis' counterpart to a Victory Garden is the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden to be planted this fall near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Faciity. A Sausalito team submitted the winning design. The haven is expected to be dedicated in October. Honey bees will find a year-around food source, while visitors (the two-legged kind) will be able to savor the garden and glean new ideas for their own gardens.
Almond, apple, black elderberry, California buckwheat, California honeysuckle, coyote brush, lavender, Oregon grape, persimmon, plum, sage, tower of jewels...A veritable bee smorgasbord.
It will be National Pollinator Week every week and the honey bee will be the Poster Child every day.
That's the least we can do for the most important of all insects.
If you like squash, you have a bee to thank.
Without bees, no pollination. Without pollination, no squash.
Honey bees in California pollinate some 100 agricultural crops, including fruits, nuts and vegetables. One of them is squash.
When a squash blossom burst open last weekend in our garden, a honey bee buzzed inside, shadowed by a carpenter bee.
The carpenter bee chased off the honey bee, but not for long. The honey bee returned to roll in the pollen, victorious.
A victory in the garden. Does that make it a victory garden?
Carpenter Bee and Honey Bee
Covered in Pollen
The rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora) attracts its share of insects.
This morning the brilliant magenta blossoms drew honey bees, carpenter bees and hover flies.
As a hover fly (aka syrphid fly or flower fly) gathered nectar, a spider crawled up a leaf of the succulent, presumably to check out the best place to weave a web.
The rock purslane is drought-tolerant and a good plant for xeroscaping.
And perfect for attracting pollinators--and an occasional spider.
Great article in the Tuesday, April 28 edition of The New York Times on "Let's Hear It for the Bees."
And did I mention that the photo accompanying the article is one I shot last year on a Yolo County farm tour? The bee is nectaring a button willow (Cephalanthus occidentalis).
In The Times' article, Leon Kreitzman writes about the rhythmic opening and closing of blossoms. "Flowers of a given species all produce nectar at about the same time each day, as this increases the chances of cross-pollination. The trick works because pollinators, which in most cases means the honeybee, concentrate foraging on a particular species into a narrow time-window. In effect the honeybee has a daily diary that can include as many as nine appointments--say 10:00 a.m., lilac; 11:30 a.m., peonies; and so on. The bees' time-keeping is accurate to about 20 minutes."
That's fascinating stuff. Kreitzman is so right when he calls honey bees "nature's little treasures." He points out that "They are a centimeter or so long, their brains are tiny, and a small set of simple rules can explain the sophisticated social behavior that produces the coordinated activity of a hive. They live by sets of instructions that are familiar to computer programmers as subroutines--do this until the stop code, then into the next subroutine, and so on."
Kreitzman's new book on seasonal rhythms will be published in May. He earlier penned Rhythms of Life with neuroscientist Russell Foster of Oxford.
If we all paid more attention to the honey bees, we'd appreciate all the work they do and maybe we'd try to protect them more.
Yes, let's hear it for the bees!
Honey bee on button willow
It's not spring until you see honey bees, carpenter bees and butterflies on Tidy Tips.
That would be Layia platyglossa, a wildflower native to southern California. Its common name is "Tidy Tips" or "Coastal Tidy Tips." It's a daisylike flower with yellow petals tipped in white, thus the name. It's a member of the aster family.
A flower bed in the center of the UC Davis campus (near the Science LaboratoriesBuilding) boasts an intermingling of the yellow-and-white Tidy Tips and sky-blue Desert Blue Bells (Phacelia campanularia).
Insects think so, too. On any given day you'll see honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and lacewings holding family reunions.
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)