Backyard Orchard News
Honey bees and the Blue Angels...
Honey bees sometimes seem to fly in formation over such plants as flowering artichokes, but their precision--if you could call it that--never matches that of the Blue Angels.
For one, the pollen-packing bees are wobbly and bump into one another. But they always seem to know where they're going and how to get there. They're the pride and joy of the agricultural world as they collect pollen and nectar.
The Blue Angels' flight demonstration squadron is the pride and joy of the U.S. Navy. In fact, their mission is " to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach."
The Blue Angels' show drew thousands of spectators on Sunday in San Francisco. We watched the aerobatics from the deck on the Flying Fish charter sportsfishing boat. We we all surged with patriotism, excitement and awe as the Blue Angels maneuvered their Hornets into diamond and delta formations, solos, slow passes, barrel rolls and tight turns.
Honey bees engage in their own kind of air show as they carry their pollen and nectar back to the hive. They don't do diamond and delta formations or barrel rolls, but back at the hive, they know how to perform waggle and round dances, making slow passes and tight turns.
Honey bee "squadron" aiming for the flowering artichokes. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue Angels maneuvering their Hornets into a diamond formation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bees buzzing by, performing their solo missions. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Blue Angels roar past the city of San Francisco. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
She described it to a "T."
That would be "T" for territorial.
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, spotlighted the European wool carder bee in her current edition of the Bohart Museum Society newsletter.
The males are aggressive. Their territorial behavior is "in your face." They will chase away bees, butterflies and even small birds, like hummingbirds. "They will also check out humans, flying up to them and hovering," Kimsey says.
But it's not something we should be worried about. The wool carder bee is a pollinator.
"We tend to think of all exotic species of insects as being pests," Kimsey wrote. "By and large, that's true but there are exceptions. The wool carder bee, Anthidium manicatum, may be one of these exceptions."
She describes it as a species of European leafcutter bee "that has successfully colonized North America. However, North America isn't the only place these bees have invaded. They are now found in north Africa, South America, Asia, the Canary Islands and even in New Zealand. World domination is ahead."
The wool carder bee (so named because the female scrapes or cards leaf fuzz for her nest) was accidentally introduced into the U.S. from Europe in the early 1960s and was first discovered in New York State. It spread quickly across the continent. Scientists found it in Davis, Calif., in 2007.
They're about the size of a honey bee, Kimsey says "but they are brightly marked with yellow on a black background with a bright yellow face. Only honey bees in Disney movies are black and yellow. Males are considerably larger than females, and have a spine on either side of the last two abdominal segments and three spines on the last segment."
Those spines have been mistaken for stingers, but only females have stingers.
We've seen the males protect patches of lamb's ear, catmint, foxgloves, oregano, cosmos, African blue basil, and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) in our yard. They mean bees-ness. We've seen honey bees working frantically, trying to forage as quickly as possible without getting targeted. We've also seen some of them crippled on the ground.
The female wool carder bees build their nests, Kimsey says, in rotting wood or preexisting tunnels, such as beetle burrows.
Kimsey mentioned that the Bohart Museum scientist Tom Zavortink experienced female carder bees "carding" wool from his socks!
The Bohart Museum Society newsletter is mailed to its members. The society is a campus and community support organization, and like the Bohart Museum, is dedicated to teaching, research and public service. For more information on the society, including how to join, see this page.
Male wool carder bee heads for the photographer. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wool carder bee zeroing in on catmint. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A male wool carder bee attacking a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This week at Lindcove REC the John Deere Company installed two John Deere Field Connect™ soil...
Craig Hornung installs a soil moisture sensor.
Screenshot of data from soil moisture sensor.
These things go together:
Ham and eggs, macaroni and cheese, and beer and bugs.
Beer and bugs? Definitely! Haven't you ever had a few crickets with your Kölsch?
Well, you will if you attend the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science's event, "Bugs and Beer—Why Crickets and Kölsch Might Be Matches Made in Heaven," set from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Crickets? It's what's for dinner. And more.
UC Davis Professor Charles Bamforth, aka “The Pope of Foam,” will team with David George Gordon, aka "The Bug Chef," to create eight different insect-inspired creations for the ultimate tasting experience, says spokesperson and administrative assistant Elizabeth Luu. It was her idea--and a fine one at that!--to launch the event.
The RMI "has been a hotspot for famous chefs, wine and beer pairings, and cutting-edge research for all things gastronomic," Luu says. "The Institute places itself in the forefront of the entomophagy—'bugs as food' movement by providing an informational but entertaining dining experience for the curious consumer."
Eighty percent of the world consumes insects as a protein source, Luu points out. "As the world's population continues to grow exponentially, there is more need than ever for an alternative protein source."
Indeed. We prefer our honey bees in hives or photographs but people in many parts of the world, including Africa and Asia, eat brood comb. They consider it a delicacy.
Drone pupae, some beekeepers say in The Bee Source forum, are delicious, especially drizzled with a little honey. Bon appétit!
The UC Davis event will demonstrate various, innovative and creative uses for insects as a food source. You'll hear short lectures followed by tastings led by Bamforth and Gordon. Bamforth, by the way, is the distinguished Anheuser-Busch Endowed professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, and Gordon is a celebrity chef and the award-winning author of The Eat-a-Bug Cookbook.
Tickets are $50 for the general public and $25 for students. Here's what else is good about the event: A portion of the proceeds will go to the UC Davis Bohart Museum of Entomology to fund teaching and research.
To register, visit the RMI website. For additional information, contact Elizabeth Luu at email@example.com or at (530) 754-6349.
RMI was made possible through the generous donation of $25 million from Robert Mondavi in 2001. The institute, involved in research, education and outreach, is comprised of two departments: Viticulture and Enology and Food Science and Technology.
Would you eat honey bee larvae? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Wax moth larvae: good source of protein? And throw in a few small hive beetles for good measure? (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
How's your front yard looking?
A little bit brown due to the drought? Thinking of replacing some of your plants with drought-tolerant ones? And hoping to attract some bees, butterflies and other wildlife?
You're in luck. The UC Davis Arboretum is planning its next public plant sale this Saturday, Oct. 11. The theme is, appropriately enough, "The New Front Yard."
The plant sale will take place in the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to members only from 9 to 11 a.m. (but if you're not a member, you can join at the door), and it's open to the general public from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
UC Davis Arboretum officials point out that many homeowners want to replace "high-water use plants with low-water alternatives" and they're going to help you. "We are going to have the area's largest selection of attractive, drought-tolerant, easy-care, region-appropriate plants including lots of California natives and Arboretum All-Stars."
They've published a list of some "attractive, region-appropriate plants that save water and support wildlife," complete with botanical names and photos. (Download PDF)
They include California buckeye, manzanitas, California pipevine, narrow leaf milkweed, Frikart's aster, Caliifornia aster, coyote brush, creeping Oregon grape, Blonde ambition blue grama grass, western spicebush, concha Ceanothus, Ray Hartman's California lilac, western red bud, Island mountain mahogany, California fuchsia, California buckwheat, St. Catherine's lace, coast silktassel, salt heliotrope, toyon, purple lantana, Goodwin Creek lavender, cape weed, monkey flower, deergrass, Hopley's purple oregano, Santa Margarita foothill penstemon, hollyleaf cherry, blue oak, California coffeeberry, pink chaparral currant, flowering currant, Santa Catalina Island currant, white sage, Cleveland sage, autumn sage, Santa Barbara sage, Cascade Creek California goldenrod, alkali sacaton, yellow autumn crocus and Roger's red grape.
Those are just a few of the plants they're offering for the plant sale.
Ah, so many choices, so little space. And one of the best parts? The bees and butterflies and other pollinators they attract.
A Gulf Fritillary butterfly on purple lantana. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee on pink chaparral current. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Sweat bees (Halictus ligatus) on goldenrod. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A syrphid fly, aka hover fly and flower fly, on Russian sage. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)