Posts Tagged: honey bees
You can tell it's summer along Yolo County roads by the acres and acres of sunflower fields.
Looking like real-life Van Gogh paintings (Van Gogh painted them in vases, Mother Nature paints them in rows), the sunflower fields are nothing short of spectacular. With tousled heads rising toward the sun and golden locks nodding in the breeze, they stand their ground.
Sunflowers (Helianthus Annuus), native to North America, are one of our most recognizable flowers. They're a good food source, a designer's dream, and dugout tradition.
Earlier this year we fielded a call from a young man from southern California who wanted to know when the sunflowers would bloom in Yolo County. He wanted to propose to his girlfriend in a sunflower field.
This is one agricultural crop that does not go unnoticed. Not by people, not by animals, not by birds, and especially not by honey bees and sunflower bees.
Honey bees and a sunflower bee forage on a sunflower head. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bee boxes line a sunflower field. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A spectacular sunflower field. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Flowering artichokes indicate one of two things (1) someone never bothered to harvest them or (2) someone loves bees.
We let our artichokes flower. So does the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. Owned and operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, the haven provides a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators; raises public awareness about the plight of honey bees, and encourages visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.
It's delightful to watch the honey bees helicopter in, touch down in the purple forest, and thread their way to the food source.
It's especially delightful to know that National Pollinator Week is next week, June 17-23. Launched six years ago by the U.S. Senate, designated by the U.S. Department of Interior, and initiated and managed by the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, it's an opportunity to address "the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations," according to the Pollinator Partnership website.
It's not only about the bees, but other pollinators, such as birds, butterflies, bats, beetles, ants, wasps and yes, even flies.
Why are pollinators important and why should we care? Go to the Pollinator Week's
"Fast Facts" page.
One such fact: "About 75 percent of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths."
Meanwhile, the flowering artichokes are getting a real workout. Often, you can't see the forest for the bees.
Honey bee heads toward a flowering artichoke. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Touchdown! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You can't see the forest for the bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The next time you're around a lamb's ear--no, not the animal, the plant (Stachys byzantina)--watch for buzzing bees.
Especially the European wool carder bees (Anthidium manicatum). The females card the fuzz from the soft, silvery-gray leaves for their nests. Both the males and females sip nectar from the blossoms.
The males are quite territorial and bodyslam honey bees and other foraging insects. They're trying to save the sweet nectar for the females and mate with them.
It was windy this morning in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It didn't seem to bother the patrolling European wool carder bees. But their presence--and the body slams--bothered the honey bees.
The haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is open from dawn to dusk. There is no admission.
European wool carder bee nectaring on Lamb's Ear. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Side view of European wool carder bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bees are quite distinguishable from European wool carder bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program is installing mosaic ceramic panels on cement planters at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the UC Davis central campus.
Diane Ullman and Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program and their associate, professional mosaic ceramic artist Mark Rivera of Davis, began installing the work, titled “Life in the Hive,” on Thursday, May 30.
The newest addition joins two other mosaic ceramic-paneled plants. One showcases honey bees and bee friendly gardening, and the other focuses on plants and alternative pollinators, such as butterflies, bumble bees, carpenter bees, blue orchard bees, and metallic green sweat bees.
Students in the Entomology 1 class, taught by Diane Ullman, associate dean in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and professor of entomology, and self-described “rock artist” Donna Billick, created the panels on all three of the once-barren cement planters.
The latest addition, “Life in the Hive,” is the work of the spring-quarter Entomology 1 class. The students will gather in the haven on Saturday, June 1, to complete the installation. They will then discuss their work at a special event from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, June 4 in the haven.
“Life in the Hive,” lettered with “Honey Bee Haven” and “Häagen Dazs,” depicts the life cycle of the worker bee, queen bee, and drone. It also features a waggle dance, the queen bee and her retinue, and a newly emerged queen bee stinging and killing a competing queen ready to emerge from a cell. The art also depicts nurse bees, undertakers and foragers.
Another panel shows a “before” and “after” person: "before" when he was deathly frightened of bees, and "after," when he developed an appreciation for them.
The UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, launched in 1997, helps students reach across disciplines to learn science through art, and art through science, Ullman said. Each course focuses on key areas of biology, physics or environmental science and expressive art media, including ceramics, graphics, textiles, photography, poetry and music.
The haven is a year-around food source for bees and other pollinators and is designed to (1) raise public awareness about the plight of bees, and (2) to show visitors what they can plant in their own gardens. Part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, it is located just a few yards from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.
The garden is open to the public from dawn to dusk for self-guided tours. For guided tours (nominal fee involved), the contact person is Christine Casey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Multiple hands at work on the mosaic ceramic panels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Artists Diane Ullman and Mark Rivera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
This art depicts "before" and "after": "before" when the man was deathly afraid of bees, and "after," when he developed admiration. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The life cycle of the honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Artists Donna Billick, Diane Ullman and Mark Rivera. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What a match--honey bees and pomegranate blossoms.
Watching the golden bees forage amid the brilliant red blossoms in the late afternoon is a delight to see, especially when the sun backlights them.
The ancient fruit, native to Iran, is one of the world's first cultivated fruits. Thankfully, it is now "trendy" in California, with some 30,000 acres of pomegranates in production. We treasure its ruby-red kernels, tart flavor, and high antioxidant content. Since ancient times, the fruit has symbolized health and fertility. It's been said that Adam and Eve weren't tempted by an apple in the Garden of Eden, but by a pomegranate. In Egypt, the pomegranate was known as "The Fruit of Kings."
Spanish settlers introduced the pomegranate tree to California in 1769. The honey bees came later: 1853.
But when you think about it, honey bees and pomegranates have been together for millions of years--just not in California.
The pomegranate tree in our yard is 86 years old and has seen generations of bees come and go.
A promenade in the pomegranates...
A backlit honey bee heads for a pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Caught in flight, a honey bee makes a beeline to a pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The nectar of the gods. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)