Backyard Orchard News
Talk about agility.
When you watch a honey bee foraging, it's a lesson in aerial acrobatics.
She glides to her target flower, touching down gracefully and accurately. As she gathers nectar, she's vertical, horizontal, upside down and right side up again.
She's a circus performer, an Olympic gymnast and a ballet dancer, all rolled into one. She specializes in cartwheels, somersaults and pirouettes, coupled with head stands, hand stands and foot stands.
In his research, neuroscientist Mandyam Srinivasan of the Queensland Brain Institute and the School of IT and Electrical Engineering found that bees slow to a hover about half an inch away from their target before they land.
Srinivasan marvels how the bee can detect moving targets, avoid collisions and land smoothly.
All this, the professor says, has practical applications for robotics and unmanned aircraft.
Indeed. We can learn a lot from watching a foraging honey bee.
It's raining bumble bees in our pool.
Yellow-faced bumble bees (Bombus vosnesenskii).
And honey bees (Apis mellifera), too.
While nectaring lavender, catmint, tower of jewels, sedum and other plants, some of the foragers land in our pool. Talk about no depth perception.
We fish them out and most survive. (A floating piece of styrofoam now provides them with a little protection from the untimely dips.)
For the two below, it was definitely a bad hair day.
Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee
It's not often you see a ladybug and a honey bee sharing the same plant.
The ladybug, a predator in disguise, devours aphids like a kid does M&Ms. The honey bee, all buzziness, works furiously to collect nectar or pollen for her hive.
Sometimes a lavender patch can bring them together.
Such was the case yesterday in our garden. A ladybug staked claim to a lavender spike, while a dozen honey bees glided in for a sweet sip of nectar.
The garden is lookin' good.
That would be the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis. It's part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and was planted under the tenure of entomologist-professor Lynn Kimsey, then chair of the department. (She doubles as director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology.)
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager for the California Center for Urban Horticulture and coordinator of the design competition (won by a Sausalito team), and UC Davis plant sciences student Alyssa Andersen, launched a volunteer program to keep the garden weed-free.
On any given day, you'll see volunteers tending the garden--pulling weeds, planting replacements, and eyeing any ground squirrel/gopher damage.
Jackie Cheng, a junior majoring in environmental policy analysis and planning at UC Davis, is one of the volunteers. She recently worked in a patch of seaside daisies (Erigeron glaucus), a bee and butterfly favorite.
The seaside daisy, a perennial, boasts lavender daisylike flowers that make spectacular photos.
Get ready. The grand opening celebration of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. Plans are under way to make this a momentous event and a year-around campus destination.
Bee on Seaside Daisies
View from an Almond Tree