Posts Tagged: honey bees
Our catmint is in mint condition.
So is the cat.
The catmint (Nepeta mussinii) is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae or Labiatae). It's a perennial with two-lipped blue or blue-violet flowers that blooms from spring through fall. It grows so well that it can become invasive.
Just like the cat.
As soon as the temperature hits 50 degrees, the honey bees are all over it, poking their heads inside the floral caps as if trying on hats.
And the cat, Xena the Warrior Princess, is right there. She likes to sniff, nibble and rub the catmint.
If she were in a catnip (Nepeta cataria) patch--catnip has whitish-pinkish flowers--she would be rolling in it in a crazy euphoric frenzy.
Although feline reactions differ considerably, the two plants belong to the same mint family.
Plant catnip and cats will roll wildly in it. Plant catmint and it's sniff, nibble and rub.
Bee on Catmint
Like an Acrobat
Cat Sniffing Catmint
Redmaids aren't red.
They're purple-petaled with white centers and yellow stamens.
The California native wildflower (Calandrinia ciliatais) from the purslane family (Portulacaceae) blooms from February through May.
Farmers who grow baby spinach and other crops consider it a weed. Honey bees don't. It's a food source that helps them build up their hives in the spring.
If you ever see a patch of redmaids, you'll surely see bees foraging among the bright blossoms.
There's a patch on Hutchison Drive, near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis. New World Carniolan bees reared by bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Laidlaw facility, can be seen foraging there.
A patch of redmaids and a bee posse.
Field of Redmaids
Covered with Pollen
Honey bees don’t like tulips, right?
You don't plant tulips to attract bees, and you don't attract bees with tulips.
They prefer such bee friendly plants as lavender, salvia, catmint, sedum, cherry laurels and tower of jewels—not to mention fruit, almond and vegetable blossoms.
But last weekend, a lone bee—probably a confused lone bee—buzzed around our tulips in the back yard and then dropped inside to roll in the pollen.
She stayed inside the tulip for about five minutes. When she emerged, a layer of gold dust clung to her.
Bees don't like tulips? This one did!
Bee on Tulip
Rolling in the Pollen
The Campus Buzzway, a quarter-acre field of wildflowers planted last fall near the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at the University of California, Davis, is brilliant in gold and blue, the UC Davis colors.
The gold: California poppies. The blue (blue/purple): lupine.
There's also coreopsis or tickseed planted there but it just finished blooming last fall.
The Buzzway, funded by Häagen-Dazs, is located next to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden designed by the Sausalito team of landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki.
The public opening of the two bee friendly gardens, initially slated for June, is expected to take place in the fall, probably in September, but no date has officially been set.
Spring, summer, fall and winter--expect great things in these two gardens. They will be a year-around food source for the honey bees at the Laidlaw Facility and surrounding area; a food source for various other insects, including native bees and butterflies; and an educational experience for visitors. Folks can glean information on what to plant in their own yards or create a bee friendly garden.
There's an old saying that "All that glitters is not gold." As for as the bees and the bee scientists at UC Davis, are concerned, this IS gold.
Bee on Lupine
Bee on a Poppy
The news is not good.
The honey bee crisis is worsening.
Back in November of 2006, commercial beekeeper David Hackenberg of Pennsylvania sounded the alarm. Fifty 50 percent of his bees had collapsed in Florida. Other beekeepers came forward with equally bad news: some individuals reporting losing one-third to 100 percent of their bees.
Quickly referred to as colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon is characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, flying off and leaving behind the queen bee, brood and stored food.
Fast forward to today: a federal survey shows a heavy bee dieoff this winter, and research published last Friday in the journal PLOS (Public Library of Science) shows an alarming number of pesticides found in pollen and wax samples from 23 states and a Canadian province.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, agrees that bees are in trouble and the declining population is worsening. Scores of beekeepers have reported opening hives and finding them virtually empty.
Meanwhile, another federal survey on bee winter losses will take place April 1 through April 14. That should shed more light on a darkening crisis.
Perhaps CCD is due to a yet undiscovered virus. Perhaps it's due to a combination of factors: pesticides, diseases, pests, viruses, malnutrition and stress.
"Unexpected, periodic losses of honey bee colonies, very similar to this, have been noted in the bee journals since the late 1800s, but they tended to be very short term," Mussen says in his March 19th Bee Brief, published on the UC Davis Entomology Web site. "In 1965, 66, and 67 a similar problem persisted for three years. Our current session is the longest yet."
"The intensity of research on possible leads to the causes of CCD is increasing around the world, as other countries are having similar losses in their honey bee colonies," he writes in his Bee Brief. "The global nature of the problem suggests that some other, more fundamental aspect of the environment may be involved. Honey bees prosper best and are best able to resist diseases, parasites, exposures to toxins, etc. when they have fed on a quality diet.
"For bees in general, and honey bees in particular, that means a constant supply of pollens that provide their required proteins, vitamins, lipids, sterols, minerals, antioxidants and carbohydrates. While global warming may not directly challenge a species of insect that can prosper from very cold climates to the equator, climate change may result in more stress on the bees. Increased periods of dry, hot weather or cold, rainy weather, could limit availability and access to those important pollens. The bees will have to rear their brood at the expense of their body nutrient reserves. The brood will be less well fed, and in turn will not be good at rearing the next 'round of brood.' "
That sort of downward spiral, Mussen says, will leave the bees very fragile and susceptible.
The MAAREC Web site (Mid-Atlantic Apiculture and Extension Consortium) hosted by Pennsylvania State University, offers latest updates on the crisis.
Tending the Bees