Posts Tagged: honey bees
They're called "wonder flies."
And for a good reason.
Folks wonder what they are. As native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says: "We non-Dipterists often refer to these flies as 'wonder flies' since most of us wonder what these tiny diverse flies are."
We recently spotted these "wonder flies" in Napa sharing a squash blossom with honey bees.
Flies are pollinators, too!
If you wonder about these flies, check out BugGuide.Net, where entomologists and others congregate to share "observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures."
There's a magnificent purple aster blooming in the bee yard at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
The aster, a late-bloomer, makes for a picture-perfect apiary scene...white bee boxes in the background...purple aster in the foreground...and the sounds of bees buzzing among the flowers.
In reality, the bees are gearing up for winter, but on this sunny day, autumn mimics spring.
Meanwhile, there's an administrative buzz in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, too. The department is recruiting for an assistant professor/apiculturist.
The research focus of this position will center on investigations pertaining to honey bees (Apis mellifera) and their role in pollinating California’s $6 billion honey bee-dependent crops, according to Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the department. Possible research areas include behavior, genetics, ecology, pathology, physiology/immunology, microbiology, nutrition, toxicology, and parasitology of honey bees.
The call is out. The beginning review date is set (Dec. 1) and a bee specialist is expected to be in place by July 1, 2011.
Hear that buzz?
Bee on purple aster
You gotta love that red buckwheat (Eriogonum grande rubescens).
Attractive to honey bees, native bees and butterflies, red buckwheat is flourishing in the garden. Okay, it's called red buckwheat, but the clusters are rosy pink. They're about the same size as ping-pong balls.
We watched the bees work the flowers last weekend. They crawled up one side and down the other.
This is a highly recommended plant when you're gardening for bees and butterflies.
With autumn settling in and winter approaching, the honey bees won't be working the flowers much longer this year.
But right now, they're in the pink.
Honey Bee on Buckwheat
Honey bees foraging on zinnias?
Yes. It's not considered a "bee plant" like the salvias, lavenders and mints, but bees do forage on it occasionally.
The genus, from the aster family (Asteraceae), derives its name from the German botanist, Johann Gottfried Zinn.
At the Hoes Down Harvest Festival last weekend at the Fully Belly Farm, an organic farm in Guinda, deep in the heart of Capay Valley, life took a celebratory twist. The annual festival, so named because folks put down their hoes to celebrate the harvest, includes educational farm tours, a children’s area, hands-on workshops, live music, and the sale of organic produce (fruits, vegetables, olive oil and honey).
This year, the 23rd annual event, weavers wove, spinners spun and a blacksmith blacksmithed just as our great-grandparents did.
And those little honey bees that make it all possible, buzzed amid the basil, mints, salvias--and yes, zinnias.
Honey Bee on Zinnia
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, emphasizes that if you're planting flowers to attract bees--and you should--be sure to remember them in the fall--not just the spring and summer.
In the fall, food is scarce. In the spring and summer, food is abundant.
We're often asked for plant lists. UC Berkeley has an excellent site on urban bee gardens, and the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a comprehensive list of what to plant in your area.
The blueprint for what's planted in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, is online (21-page PDF). You can download it and see what's planted there.
Also see California native plants that bees visit on the Laidlaw website.
Another way to come up with what to plant is to visit your local nursery. Observe where the bees are.
A visit today to the Mostly Natives Nursery, Tomales (Marin County), showed the bees all over scores of plants, including lavender (below).
Follow the bees and you'll know what to plant.
Honey Bee on Lavender
Working the Lavender