Backyard Orchard News
Elizabeth Frost is at wick's end.
When she's not tending the bees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis or tending her own bees at home, she loves to make candles.
That would be candles crafted from beeswax, a natural substance that bees produce from their abdominal glands. Bees use the wax as "building blocks" to build combs to rear their young and store honey and pollen.
Candlemakers love the fine quality of beeswax, a product also desired in the cosmetic, health care, food and music industries. It's used for everything from sealing cheese to glazing fruit, candy and baked goods to polishing shoes and furniture. Your father or his friends probably used it to wax their moustaches. You use beeswax when you apply lip balm or chew gum.
Elizabeth makes candles.
"It's really fun," she said.Elizabeth or "Liz," a beekeeper at the Laidlaw facility since January of 2008, works closely with bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility. Her responsibilities include maintaining the apiaries and lab facilities, and aiding Cobey in her queen rearing and instrumental insemination classes.
Liz, who holds a bachelor of arts degree in English and Italian from UC Davis, with a minor in entomology, said she's always loved candles. "Growing up we would visit the Hurd Beeswax Candles in the Wine Country (St. Helena)."
Her favorite molds include bee hives, pine cones, eggs, pillars and tapers. The eggs? "You can add feet to them and make them very creative," she said.
Liz entered the beekeeping world in August 2008 and the candle-making world about a year ago.
If she should light the proverbial candle at both ends, the odds it will be made of beeswax.
Even though your citrus may have been damaged it is still ok for consumption for a couple of weeks. Why not pick your extra fruit, box it up and take it to your nearest food pantry? There are many families in need of food this winter. Here is the link to Fresno Master Gardener's PAR website: http://groups.ucanr.org/mgfresno/PAR/ for a list of local food pantries.
There is also an abundance of persimmons and pomegranates this time of year. They can also be dropped off at your nearest food pantry.
Welcome to our new blog for Plant a Row (for the Hungry) program ran by the Fresno County Master Gardeners (and their friends).Plant A Row (PAR) is a nationwide, people-to-people program sponsored locally by UC Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners and Community Food Bank.
The Aim is to make it convenient for home gardeners and others with extra fresh produce to find locations that welcome donations of any size and will guickly distribute the fresh fruit and vegetables to those in need. Click here for a listing of PAR Food Pantries and community organizations currently accepting donations.
The Goal is to connect home gardeners who grow extra fruits and vegetables with those in our community who are in need of that nutritious food.
PAR volunteers pledge to donate produce through the Community Food Bank's network of food pantries and at PAR-sponsored events. PAR gardens are excellent projects for families, schools, and youth organizations.
Leave a message at 226-1528 if none of these are convenient and a Master Gardener volunteer will contact you to work out an individual arrangement./span>
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