Backyard Orchard News
Next spring the Campus Buzzway at UC Davis will burst with buds, blooms and bees.
The Campus Buzzway, a quarter-acre field of wildflowers, took root the third week of November when a crew planted golden poppies, lupine and coreopsis (tickseed).
Or more precisely, Eschscholzia californica, Lupinus perennis and Coreopsis granidflora.
The garden is a gift from Häagen-Dazs, which also funded the design competition for the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. Both bee friendly gardens are located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
Many other donors have stepped forward to make the gardens possible.
Think year-around food source for bees.
Think public awareness about the the plight of bees.
Think educational opportunities for visitors.
This is no ordinary garden. The Campus Buzzway is unique in that it not only will sport the UC Davis official colors of blue and gold, but it will include three areas of concentrated plantings surrounded by random plantings of the poppies, lupine and coreopsis.
Lynn Kimsey, professor and vice chair of the Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, suggested the design, which also includes narrow walkways.
The two gardens, she said, "will greatly benefit our colonies and make terrific teaching opportunities.”
Expect to see scores of local pollinator populations there, too, and folks gleaning ideas for their own bee friendly gardens. Yes!
This is the second year that Häagen-Dazs, known for its premier ice cream (about half of its flavors are pollinated by honey bees), has raised funds for honey bee research at UC Davis and Penn State University. At UC Davis, Häagen-Dazs is funding postdoctoral fellow Michelle Flenniken, an insect virus researcher seeking to unlock the mysteries of the viruses that plague bees.
Meanwhile, mark your calendars. A public celebration of the two bee friendly gardens is set June 19.
UC Davis Colors
A brush with a honey bee...
A brush with a hummingbird...
When we visited the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden recently, honey bees were nectaring the mutton bird sedge (Carex trifeda), a New Zealand native known for its upright floral spikes that resemble golden bottle brushes.
Indeed, the mutton bird sedge reminds us of the red bottlebrush tree (Callistemon spp.), a native of nearby Australia.
Both attract their share of nectar lovers.
Bee and Mutton Bird Sedge
Youngsters like to joke about what a honey bee says when she returns to the hive: "Honey, I'm home!"
Honey...what is it?
The National Honey Board defines honey as "the substance made when the nectar and sweet deposits from plants are gathered, modified and stored in the honeycomb by honey bees. The definition of honey stipulates a pure product that does not allow for the addition of any other substance. This includes, but is not limited to, water or other sweeteners."
Honey ranges in color from nearly white to light amber to nearly black. The nectar source determines the color.
At the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, jars of multicolored honey grace the windowsill of the conference room. As the sun sets, the colors are dazzling.
Below, bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility, and beekeeper-junior specialist Elizabeth Frost show four jars of honey.
Hear the buzz?
That's the sound of a honey bee's wings moving at about 11,400 times per minute.
As a field bee, the worker bee lives only several weeks during the peak nectaring season. She can fly four to five miles a day, at a speed of about 15 miles per hour. When her wings (she has four) fray and wear out, she can no longer fly.
We recently spotted a honey bee with very ragged wings nectaring lantana and another nectaring lavender.
A world of difference between the wings.
For more information on honey bees, check out the UC Davis bee biology Web site and the links page.
Mason wasps are strikingly beautiful.
The black and yellow patterns are intriguing, but even more intriguing are the mud nests they build.
Makes sense that these wasps are called mason or potter wasps, named for what they do. Their human counterparts work with stone, brick, and concrete.
Native Americans reportedly designed some of their pottery in the shape of wasp nests.
Last month we spotted two mason wasps in our garden. One was seemingly sunning itself on a salvia leaf. Another was sipping nectar from a rock purslane.
Now if we could only find their nests...
Sunny Side Up