Backyard Orchard News
Honey bees have a "choke hold" on artichokes.
They absolutely love flowering artichokes.
Take the artichokes blooming in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Sometimes 10 or 15 bees try to gather on a single blossom.
The "beeline" of honey bees, bumble bees and sweat bees turns into a collision course not unlike a NASCAR race.
"Hot spot," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. "They're all heading for that hot spot of nectar."
The artichoke (Cynara crdunculus)? It's a thistle, and bees are ravenously fond of thistles.
A rule of thumb: When you're trying to attract bees, don't harvest the artichokes. Let them bloom.
Lots of Bees
It's fun seeing little children sharing a cone...an ice cream cone.
But have you ever seen a bumble bee and honey bee sharing a cone (coneflower)?
Around 9:30, a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) and a honey bee (Apis mellifera) buzzed in to forage among the coneflowers.
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), also known as the Eastern purple coneflower or purple conflower, generates a lot of insect excitement. Metallic sweat bees, bumble bees, honey bees and butterflies all try to claim a spot atop this petals-down, cone-up flower, a carnival ride at rest.
Meanwhile, officials are gearing up for the grand opening celebration of the garden, set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 11. The garden is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators, and an educational experience for visitors.
And a meeting place for a bumble bee and a honey bee.
The honey bee sculpture that graces the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis is bee-u-tiful.
It's the work of nationally renowned artist Donna Billick, based in Davis. Indeed, the bee sculpture is so unique, so creative and so detailed that you can almost hear it buzz.
You'll get a close-up look at the bee at the grand opening celebration on Saturday, Sept. 11. The time: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The place: Bee Biology Road on the west end of campus. The event will include speakers, honey tasting, children's activities, and tours of the half-acre bee friendly garden.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, planted last fall, is designed to be a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators; a teaching resource and field research site; and an educational experience for visitors. "It promises to become a campus destination," said entomology professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Kudos to Haagen-Dazs for its generous gift.
Kudos to the winning design team from Sausalito: Ann F. Baker, landscape architect; Jessica Brainard, interpretive planned; Chika Kurotaki, exhibit designer and Donald Sibbett, landscape architect.
And kudos to the construction team that put it all together: Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors.
The ceramic art tiles on the bee "pedestal" are the work of undergraduate students and community residents involved in the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program.Donors making gifts or pledges of $1000 or more will have their names placed on ceramic art tiles--and on the website of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. Pledges can be paid over five years, according to Jan Kingsbury, director of major gifts, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.
The deadline to contact her in order to have these tiles in place before the Sept. 11 opening is July 20. "We are just about to finish the art work for this set of tiles," Kingsbury said. (She can be reached at (530) 304-4327 or email@example.com.) Donors, however, can make contributions year-around to the haven or to the honey bee research program.
Indeed, the declining bee population is troubling. Colony collapse disorder (CCD) continues to wreak global havoc. This winter was the worst ever, the nation's apiculturists agree.
Meanwhile, plans are shaping up for the grand celebration of the haven. Those planning to "bee" there on Sept. 11 should contact Nancy Dullum of the UC Davis Department of Entomology at firstname.lastname@example.org and insert "honey bee haven" in the subject line. The body of the text should indicate the number of visitors.
Ants, bees, flies and other insects--and people--ought to scatter from the Briggs Hall lawn on the UC Davis campus, on Friday afternoon, July 16.
That's the date of the eighth annual Bruce Hammock Lab Water Balloon Battle, aka Bruce's Big Balloon Battle at Briggs.
Entomologists and other scientists, along with other faculty, staff, spouses and children, will engage in some summer fun.
Bruce Hammock, a distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Entomology who holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center, launched the water battle back in 2003 as a way to develop camaraderie and lessen the scorching summer heat.
At 1:30 p.m. participants will fill some 2200 water balloons in 82 Briggs, and at 3:45 p.m., they'll head to the north end of the Briggs Hall lawn to do battle.
Last year the eager warriors tossed all the balloons in 15 minutes--15 minutes of aim.
When the balloons are gone, any water remaining in the tubs and other containers is put to good use over an unsuspecting head.
Lately Hammock has been in the news for several reasons:
- He directs the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Superfund Program on the UC Davis campus, which recently received a $13.2 million, five-year grant renewal to study the health effects of hazardous chemicals
- His entomological studies on "bugs" have led to new hope for diabetes and heart patients. (See latest story on diabetes)
- He recently presented a public lecture on “The Development and Potential of Genetically Engineered Viruses for Insect Control in Agriculture" as part of the COSMOS Distinguished Lecture Series on the UC Davis campus. This is the four-week California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science summer residential program for high achieving math and science students, grades 9 through 12.
Hammock, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1999, also directs the National Institutes of Health Training Program in Biotechnology and the NEIHS Combined Analytical Program.
He's considered a talented scientist, a dedicated mentor, a superb teacher, and...(drum roll) a water warrior extraordinaire.
As one former member of the lab said: "Nobody but nobody can beat Bruce at water balloons."
As a child growing up in Washington state, I received an entomological nickname.
My father, in a take-off of the name, Kate, affectionately called me "Katydid."
Katy did. Katy didn't.
Maybe Katy did. Maybe Katy didn't.
Whatever, I've always loved the sounds of katydids performing their nighttime concerts, or rather, their mating calls. (Listen to the sounds; lean back, close your eyes, and you can almost hear "Katy did. Katy didn't.")
Scientists classify katydids in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Orthoptera, and family Tettigoniidae.
Agriculturists consider them pests; stone fruit growers try to eradicate them from their orchards.
So, was I surprised last week to see a katydid tucked inside one of our pomegranate blossoms. Honey bees, yes. Leafcutter bees, yes. Sweat bees, yes.
But a katydid?
At first glance, the green critter resembled an exotic Walt Disney cartoon character: long, awkward-looking hind legs; long, threadlike antennae; and beady eyes.
Yes, a katydid. A juvenile.
Maybe, just maybe, we'll someday hear the sounds of "Katy did. Katy didn't."
Maybe Katy will. Maybe Katy won't.