Backyard Orchard News
President Obama just pardoned a couple of turkeys--Apple and Cider. They won't make it to the White House Thanksgiving dinner today.
But what he could have done--when he was pardoning the turkeys--was to praise the honey bees.
Without honey bees, Thanksgiving Day dinner--as we know it--would not exist.
It's time to "bee" thankful.
If your table includes pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, onions, apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, sunflower seeds, and almonds, thank the bees for their pollination services.
Spices? Thank the bees, too. Bees visit the plants that eventually comprise our spices, including sage, basil, oregano and thyme.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, says that even milk and ice cream are linked closely to the honey bee. Cows feed on alfalfa, which is pollinated by honey bees (along with other bees).
So, pardon the turkeys? Well, at least "Apple" and "Cider." But let's praise the honey bees, too.
Bee on Pomegranate Blossom
Mark your calendar.
If you're a bee aficionada and haven't ordered your educational North American Bee Calendar, you have until Tuesday, Nov. 30 to place your order.
It's for a good cause. Proceeds benefit the pollination services work by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and the Great Sunflower Project.
This is an order-online-only calendar, says Celeste Ets-Hokin, the Bay Area native bee enthusiast who is spearheading the second annual project. That means you won't find the calendar in any stores and you won't be able to order it after Nov. 30.
The calendar spotlights a different bee genus each month, with notes on preferred plants, nesting needs, and guidance on how to identify the genus. In other words, it's a good way to learn about bees: what they look like, where they live and how to entice them to your garden.
At the UC Davis Department of Entomology, we frequently get requests for information on bees. "What are those big black bees buzzing around my garden?" they ask. "What does a leafcutter bee look like? How can I attract bumble bees?"
If you're around entomologists, you'll hear them talking about Osmias, Lasioglossums, Xylocopas and Agapostemons.
Bees appearing in the calendar and the scientific names are:
January: Honey Bee (Apis)
February: Bumble Bee (Bombus)
March: Digger Bee (Habropoda)
April: Mason Bee (Osmia)
May: Sweat Bee (Lasioglossum)
June: Ultra Green Sweat Bee (Agapostemon)
July: Leafcutter Bee (Megachile)
August: Squash Bee (Peponapis)
September: Long-horned Bee (Melissodes)
October: Carder Bee (Anthidium)
November: Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa)
December: Cuckoo Bee (Epeolus)
The photos by Rollin Coville of Berkeley are stunning. The green metallic sweat bee glitters like emeralds.
Calendars are $15 each, which includes shipping anywhere in the United States. The international price is $18, shipping included. Orders may be placed by accessing the Xerces website or The Great Sunflower Project website.
Coville, who has a doctorate in enotomology from UC Berkeley, collaborates with Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley and emeritus professor Robbin Thorp of UC Davis on urban bees.
Indeed, the calendar is the work of many scientists and "bee folks." Matthew Shepherd, senior conservation associate of the Xerces Society, and Ets-Hokin served as editors, and Miguel Barbosa as the graphic designer. Scientists sharing their research expertise included: Neal Williams of UC Davis; Gordon Frankie and Claire Kremen of UC Berkeley; and Rachael Winfree of Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J.
North American Bee Calendar
Recently single adult psyllids were found on two traps about 1 mile apart from each other in Upland California (San Bernadino County). The host plants in and around these traps are being treated and these finds will expand the quarantine zone (20 miles around a psyllid find). The populations in Imperial, San Diego, and Los Angeles counties countinue to have the occasional new psyllid finds, but the area that is being treated has not expanded very much. This is evidence that the insecticide treatments are very effective - if we can find this tiny insect! We continue to get the good news that no huanglongbing disease has been found in California.
It's the kind of rose garden that Joe South would write about.
The Grammy-award winning songwriter-guitarist who wrote "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" (popularized by country singer Lynn Anderson), has probably never seen this rose garden, though.
It's at the University of California, Davis, and it's an All-America Rose Selections (AARS) Test Garden.
Located on Hopkins Road, off Hutchison Drive, just west of the central UC Davis campus, it is one of 15 AARS test gardens located throughout the United States, representing a variety of climates. In fact, the UC Davis rose garden is one of three test gardens in California--the others are in Carlsbad and San Jose.
AARS, a self-described "non-profit association dedicated to the introduction and promotion of exceptional roses that will be easy to grow and require minimal care," selects and plants roses that have the potential to become a new variety.
"We use common practices for optimal growth and insect control but no fungicides for control of powdery mildew or dust in order to evaluate natural disease resistance," according to a sign posted at the entrance.
It is indeed an exceptional garden, filled with 30 new rose varieties, including hybrid teas, floribundas, landscape, grandifloras and one climbing rose.
The insects there would agree, too: the honey bees, ladybugs, katydids, and spotted cucumber beetles. The honey bees and ladybugs are beneficial; the katydids and spotted cucumber beetles are pests.
It wasn't planted for them, but it's theirs, too.
"I beg your pardon--I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine there's gotta be a little rain sometime..."
Spotted Cucumber Beetle
In the Pink
It's a romantic getaway.
Say "San Ysidro Ranch" and someone will tell you that John F. Kennedy and his bride, Jackie, honeymooned there in September 1953.
So much has happened since then. JFK went on to win the presidency in 1961 and tragically, 47 years ago today--Nov. 22, 1963--he lost his life in Dallas.
The San Ysidro Ranch in Montecito, first a way station for San Franciscan monks in 1769, and then a citrus ranch before becoming a guest ranch in 1893, is now one of the most highly rated romantic getaways in the country.
The 500-acre site near Santa Barbara is also a "perfect 10" for honey bees and other insects foraging on the lush grounds.
It's a human paradise AND an entomological treasure.
When our son and his bride recently said "I do" at the very site that Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind) wed Sir Lawrence Olivier, honey bees added to the ceremony. They buzzed from flower to flower, gathering nectar and pollen for their winter stores. A touch of Mother Nature...a brush with Father Time.