Backyard Orchard News
To catch a carpenter bee...
The carpenter bees (Xylocopa tabaniformis) that nectar the sage, lavender, catmint and coral bells in our bee friendly garden move fast.
How fast? As fast as a buzz. They buzz into a blur and then back into a buzz.
Oh, but there are ways to capture their images. Consider not just the camera, but the time of day, the habitat, and your presence.
Camera: A macro lens will enable you to get up close. Remove the lens hood so you can get even closer. Like people, carpenter bees don't like being poked with sharp metal objects. Skip the tripod. It's too cumbersome to haul around on insect safaris. Use a flash to stop the action and provide a sharper depth of field.
Time of Day: Shoot early in the morning when the sun hasn't quite warmed them. They don't fly as fast then. They are cold-blooded so their body reflects the temperature around them.
Habitat: Know what they like. In our yard, they gravitate toward the lavender, but they like to mix it up with sage, catmint and coral bells. The pomegranate, citrus, tomato and squash blossoms don't interest them as much as they do me.
Your Presence: There are several rules here. Watch where they go and station yourself there. Make them come to you. Assure them them that hey, you're just part of the scenery. (You don't have to wear a t-shirt that says "I'm Just Part of the Scenery.") Keep low, preferably at their level. Do not shadow them. If they buzz off, not to worry. Like Arnold, they'll be "b-a-a-c-k."
Added Attractant: Sometimes you can dab a little honey or sugar water on a blossom to ensure that they stay a little longer. I'm saving this one for autumn, when the nectar subsides.
Oh, one more thing. If you have a entomologically inclined cat, make sure the feline is not around to disrupt their flight patterns.
But that would make an interesting photo, too.
Caught in Flight
Head in the Blossom
If you like squash, you have a bee to thank.
Without bees, no pollination. Without pollination, no squash.
Honey bees in California pollinate some 100 agricultural crops, including fruits, nuts and vegetables. One of them is squash.
When a squash blossom burst open last weekend in our garden, a honey bee buzzed inside, shadowed by a carpenter bee.
The carpenter bee chased off the honey bee, but not for long. The honey bee returned to roll in the pollen, victorious.
A victory in the garden. Does that make it a victory garden?
Carpenter Bee and Honey Bee
Covered in Pollen
Look closely at Charles Darwin's ceramic face.
You'll see selections from his secret notebooks and images of organisms that most influenced his scientific studies.
His beard is peppered with moths. You'll also find barnacles, iguanas, finches, orchids and other creatures on his face.
It is, says Diane Ullman, "a profound learning experience in and of itself."
The ceramic mosaic, appropriately titled "The Face of Darwin," will be among the art work displayed June 3-July 3 in the Buehler Alumni and Visitors' Center at UC Davis.
The background of "The Face": Ullman, an entomologist-artist, taught a freshman seminar with fellow artist Donna Billick to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birthday. Ullman and Billick co-founded the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and serve as the co-directors. The seminar was part of the Art/Science Fusion Program.
The Buehler art exhibit features more than 50 student photographs from Terry Nathan's class, "Photography: Bridging Art and Science," also part of the Art/Science Fusion Program. The photographs, Nathan said, explore the conceptual connections between art and science and the role of art and science on the UC Davis campus.
A public reception takes place from 3 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 4.
"The Face of Darwin" is both hauntingly beautiful and a vividly detailed study of the science that engulfed the evolutionary biologist. The eyes plead his passion, begging for knowledge, understanding and realization.
It is, indeed, as Ullman said, "a profound learning experience in and of itself."
The Face of Darwin
Faces Behind the Face
A field of dreams, for a honey bee, almost certainly would be a field of lavender.
Call it what you want, but if a bee could talk, it would probably be "lovely lavender."
When UC Cooperative Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, guided a group of scientists from Ho Chi Minh City to commercial bee operations in the Central Valley, one of the stops was to Ann Beekman's lavender fields in Hughson, Stanislaus County.
Ann Beekman of Beekman and Beekman (beekeepers) grows lavender and keeps bees to produce honey, mead soaps and candles. She's featured in the UC Davis Small Farm Center’s book, Outstanding in Their Fields: California’s Women Farmers, which celebrates the achievements of 17 women farmers and ranchers.
Visiting the lavender fields is on my "honey-do" list, but presently, I'll have to be content capturing images of honey bees nectaring the lavender in our bee friendly garden.
And I'm eagerly awaiting the opening of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. A group of Sausalito residents submitted the winning design, which will be implemented this year. A public dedication is tentatively scheduled in October.
The honey bees will surely be as happy as we bee lovers. We all love lavender.
Honey Bee on Lavender
Making a difference--that's what it's all about.
An integrated pest management (IPM) team from the United States is in Central Asia for the third Integrated Pest Management Stakeholders' Forum, June 1-5 in Bishhek, Kyrgystan.
Among the team members is UC Davis entomology professor and IPM specialist Frank Zalom. He'll be participating in the stakeholders' forum and a pest diagnostics training workshop.
The event is sponsored by a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Collaborative Research Support Project (CRSP) grant. Zalom, a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and a noted IPM specialist, is a co-investigator on the grant.
Scientists from Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajkistan, as well as Kyrgystan are conferring with Zalom and his IPM colleagues from Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Montana Stae University, and the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDIA).
The stakeholders' forum will include talks by key governmental and agricultural officials, and updates on IPM progress and concerns in the four Central Asian countries.
Joy Landis of Michigan State University's IPM Program is chronicling the travels on her blog.
In one blog, she wrote:
When we tell people the IPM project collaborates with colleagues in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, they are often unsure where these countries are. But, if we say they are located by all the other "stan" countries, then we get a flash of recognition.
The suffix "stan" means "land of," so Uzbekistan is the land of the Uzbeks, and Tajikistan is the land of the Tajiks and so forth. These countries have overlapping populations of various ethnic groups with distinct cultures. During the 20th century, they were part of the Soviet Union until it was dissolved in the early 1990's.
Be sure to read Joy Landis' blog for the latest updates.
Making a difference--that's what it's all about.