Posts Tagged: honey bees
If you've ever strolled the streets of New York, you probably noticed a few honey bees here and there.
Not the HIVES (they're illegal), but the BEES.
Tomorrow, the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene will vote on whether city residents can keep bees in the Big Apple.
The answer ought to be a resounding "yes."
We need bees in the Big Apple--and elsewhere throughout the country and the world.
A great article in Sunday's New York Times drew attention to the issue. The headline buzzed: "Bees in the City? New York May Let the Hives Come Out of Hiding."
Reporter Mireya Navarro put it succinctly: "New York City is among the few jurisdictions in the country that deem beekeeping illegal, lumping the honey bees together with hyenas, tarantulas, cobras, dingoes and other animals considered too dangerous or venomous for city life."
Fact is, aggressive pit pulls, notorious panhandlers (including the Wall Street bankers) and and sneaky pickpockets can thrive in the city, but not the three-quarter-inch-long insect that pollinates blossoms.
Currently if you have a hive in New York, you could be fined $2000.The good news is that there's a good chance the ban on beekeeping will end March 16 when the New York City Health Department votes whether to amend the health code to allow beekeeping.
We were glad to see Häagen-Dazs come out in support of overturning the New York City beekeeping ban. In a Feb. 24th news release, the ice cream brand officials pointed out that the honey bee crisis is threatening our food supply. "Not only is the honey bee endangered, so too are the caretakers of our petite pollinators," the news release noted. "Today the average age of a commercial beekeeper is 60 years old. Beekeeping is a dying art that needs to be sustained and supported."
And one way to do that is to encourage backyard or hobbyist beekeepers. We can also plant bee-friendly gardens, avoid insecticides, and spread the word about the importance of bees and other pollinators.
Häagen-Dazs helps support honey research at the University of California, Davis, and Pennsylvania State University. The brand also supports the half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven and the quarter-acre Campus Buzzway at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.We suspect that if New York lifts the bee ban, we'll see scores of beekeepers coming out of the wordwork...er...their hives.
And from the rooftops.
Like Stained Glass
It's a peach of a tree, but it isn't a peach.
It's a nectarine, a close variety of the peach--the result of a genetic mutation.
In between the rain storms, honey bees are nectaring the nectarines and packing pollen, getting ready for the spring hive build-ups.
Like peaches, nectarines originated in ancient China, and not in Persia, as the botanical names, Prunus persica (peach) and Prunus persica var. nucipersica (nectarine), might suggest.
European colonists began growing nectarines in America as early as 1616, historical documents show. That's the same decade that the colonists brought the honey bee to America. So non-native honey bees have been nectaring the non-native nectarines in what is now the United States for almost 400 years.
Two things haven't changed much in four centuries: the beauty of the delicate pink blossoms and the beauty of the industrious bees.
A sure sign of spring...
Bee in Nectarine Blossoms
Pollen-Packing Honey Bee
The old Town Hall off Main Street, Vacaville, Calif., is the perfect backdrop for Iceland poppies (Papaver nudicaule) thriving in planters.
The Iceland poppies, sometimes called arctic poppies, are native to northern Europe and North America. "Papaver" is the Greek word for "poppy."
Last Sunday, around 8 a.m., we spotted two pollinators--the honey bee and the mason bee--nectaring the blossoms.
Honey bee: Apis mellifera. (Contrary to Jerry Seinfeld's incorrect information in The Bee Movie, foragers are worker bees, and all worker bees are female.
The mason bee? A female from the genus Osmia (Family Megachilidae)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, said this mason bee could be the blue orchard bee (BOB), Osmia lignaria propinqua, "but I would need to be able to see the face of the bee to be sure. BOB females have distinctive horns at the bottom of the face. Osmia are difficult enough to separate under a microscope, and only a couple can be identified to species from photos at just the right angle."
It's probably too early for BOB, he said. Whatever the species, the mason bee declined to turn around.
Not an I-Pod
It didn't take long.
Last year at this time the field next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road at the University of California, Davis stood bleak and barren.
Nothing there but scattered patches of grass and a few pocket gophers and ground squirrels.
Last fall, after an international design competition, the site morphed into the truly beautiful Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden designed as a year-around food source for the bees in the Laidlaw apiary and as educational opportunities for visitors. Visitors will learn all about honey bees and what to plant in their own gardens to attract pollinators. (Folks can also download the 21-page design, which includes the list of plants.)
Next to crop up: The quarter-acre Campus Buzzway, planted with California poppies, lupines and coreopsis (tickseed). Blue and gold? Those are the university colors. The Buzzway sprawls on land once occupied by the Baxter House.
Fast forward to today, Feb. 26. The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven and its neighbor, the Campus Buzzway, are beginning to take off, just like the beginning pilots that practice their take-offs and landings at the nearby University Airport.
Among the first to bloom: the salvias, lupines, and almond trees. Next: the Teucrium fruticans, cultivar "Azureum."
The Teucrium fruticans, or bush germanders, are in the mint family, Lamiaceae. They're evergreen perennial shrubs native to the Mediterranean and produce strikingly brilliant blue flowers.
And you know how much bees like the color, blue.It's pure bee bliss.
How fuelish is the honey bee?
Is it as fuel-efficient as say, the new Volkswagen that gets an estimated 170 miles per gallon, more MPG than any other vehicle?
National Public Radio recently posted an interesting article on its Web site comparing the VW with the HB (the honey bee, Apis mellifera).
It seems that when the German engineers rolled out their new VW--an 837-pound car with a 2.6-gallon diesel fuel tank--they boasted it could go 416 miles without stopping for gas.
Nice going, but wait just a minute!
"We suggest," wrote NPR author Robert Krulwich, "that Germany's proud engineers take picnic baskets to the nearest springtime hill and meet their energy-efficient masters, honey bees."
Krulwich recalled that in 1957, Canadian scientist Brian Hocking figured out "bee miles to the gallon."
"Experimenters take a bee, give it all the honey it can eat, and then tether it to a pole," Krulwich wrote, adding that this procedure "neither harms nor seems to disturb the bee."
So, our busy little bee flies around the pole until it runs out of fuel. "The pole measures the distance flown by the rotating bee," Krulwich explained. "Because the experimenter now knows how far a bee can travel on a bee-belly of fuel, you scale up to imagine how far it would go if it had a gallon-sized belly. That's how you calculate Bee Miles Per Gallon."
Hocking's formula: flight efficiency of a bee=0.5 mg per 1 kilometer.
The bee. By far.
The bee gets nearly 5 million miles per gallon, or specifically 4,704,280 MPG.
And that's without packing pollen.
Honey Bee in Flight
Target: Almond Blossoms