Posts Tagged: honey bees
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
On the grounds of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, something as simple as a freshly watered potted plant will do.
Without water to ventilate and cool the hive, the wax inside an overheated hive on a hot day will melt and the brood will die.
However, if you see a honey bee collecting water, you might also see a European paper wasp (Polistes dominula).
These wasps need water to mix with their saliva and wood fibers to build their nests (right). They also bring back water for the offspring and to cool their nests.
Honey bees stand on the lip of the container or on rocks or sediment. They don't like getting their feet wet. Not so with wasps.
European Paper Wasp
Without this "something," your table fare would be sparse.
And now, there's an official day to celebrate them.
The second annual National Honey Bee Awareness Day is set Saturday, Aug. 21.
The good folks at Pennsylvania Apiculture last year launched the first National Honey Bee Awareness Day to "bring together beekeepers, bee associations and clubs, as well as other interested groups and individuals to connect with communities and advance beekeeping."
They created a website filled with educational information, fun facts about bees, and how to help them survive.
This year the focus is on honey, local honey. The theme: "Local Honey-- Good for Bees, You, and the Environment!”
Of course, bees are more valuable for their pollination services than the honey they produce. Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the American diet. In fact, it's said that "between 50 to 80 percent of the world’s food supply is directly or indirectly affected by honey bee pollination," according to the National Honey Bee Awareness Day website. "Whether it’s pollination of apples, or pollination of the seeds to produce grain for livestock, the food chain is linked to honey bees. The world's production of food is dependent on pollination, provided by the honey bees."
So it was with great concern that we read last week about the killing of two bee colonies at an urban farm in San Francisco. Seems that someone invaded the Hayes Valley Farm--where the non-profit San Francisco Bee-Cause keeps its bees--and deliberately sprayed pesticides inside the openings of three hives. Two colonies collapsed and died--and not because of colony collapse disorder (CCD). The third hive sustained major losses.
Pesticides. Pesticides killed them.
Each hive held between 60,000 and 100,000 bees, so around 200,000 bees died.
Ironically, the bee hives were there not only for pollination, but as educational tools. And the honey was to be sold to benefit more educational activities.
Some theorize that the culprit hates or fears bees, and sought to eliminate them.
Perhaps the vandal would want to exist on foods NOT requiring bee pollination, such as wind-pollinated or self-pollinated crops like barley, corn, oats, rice, rye, sorghums and wheat.
Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, is a study in diversity.
Bees, including honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees and sweat bees, along with other pollinators, share the pollen and nectar in the half-acre bee friendly garden.
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology, has logged some 50 different species of bees in the garden since its inception. He began a baseline monitoring process when the garden was a field of weeds, instead of dreams.
Today we spotted a yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii)
and a honey bee sharing a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). Minutes later, a honey bee and a sweat bee occupied another coneflower.
The garden, planted last fall, changes daily, which it is meant to do. When the grand opening celebration of the haven takes place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, expect to see scores of visitors--both humans and pollinators--sharing the garden.