Posts Tagged: UC Davis
Irving Berlin wasn't writing about carpenter bees when he penned "Easter Bonnet":
In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it
You'll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade
I'll be all in clover and when they look you over
I'll be the proudest fellow in the Easter parade
However, if you watch carpenter bees move from flower to flower as they gather nectar, you're bound to see one with its head inside a blossom.
An Easter bonnet, to be sure.
I captured this image of a carpenter bee visiting a California native wildflower, "Bird's Eyes" or "Bird's-Eye Gilia" (Gilia tricolor), on the UC Davis campus. It's aptly named. It's a light lavender and purple tubular flower with a yellow throat and powder-blue stamens.
She looked like a ballerina, with her long, thin antennae; slender, delicate body; and translucent, finely veined wings.
She dropped down on a stem in a UC Davis flower bed. Her eyes glowed a metallic gold. Perhaps she was about to feed on pollen, honeydew or an aphid. Maybe she was just investigating a site to lay her eggs.
Whatever, she graced a plant for only a moment and then was gone.
Lacewings lay their eggs on plant stems so that the emerging larvae can devour aphids, mites, thrips, soft scales and other soft-bodied prey. Dinner's ready! In fact, lacewing larvae eat so many aphids they’re called “aphid lions.” They also eat each other.
The green lacewing (Chrysopa spp.) is both a beauty and a beast. As an adult, it’s a thing of beauty. In the larva stage, it acts like a beast, complete with fierce-looking sicklelike mandibles. It's a beneficial beast, though. Gardeners welcome its voracious appetite and cheer when they see macro images of a lacewing larva lunging forward, impaling an aphid, and then sucking the juices.
Take that, you aphid!/h4>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>/o:p>/h4>
It's not spring until you see honey bees, carpenter bees and butterflies on Tidy Tips.
That would be Layia platyglossa, a wildflower native to southern California. Its common name is "Tidy Tips" or "Coastal Tidy Tips." It's a daisylike flower with yellow petals tipped in white, thus the name. It's a member of the aster family.
A flower bed in the center of the UC Davis campus (near the Science LaboratoriesBuilding) boasts an intermingling of the yellow-and-white Tidy Tips and sky-blue Desert Blue Bells (Phacelia campanularia).
Insects think so, too. On any given day you'll see honey bees, carpenter bees, butterflies and lacewings holding family reunions.
Painted Lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui)
An article in today's San Francisco Chronicle indicated that the Berkeley City Council is "poised to transform all the city's parks and open spaces into habitats for bees."
That's the kind of news we need more of, more often.
"If the council approves the resolution," wrote Chronicle reporter Carolyn Jones, "all future landscaping would be 'pollinator-friendly' flowering native plants intended to attract bees, bats, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds, beetles and flies."
And about time!
Indeed, the declining bee population should concern us all. Bees are beneficial insects. They pollinate our fruits, vegetables and nuts. They provide honey, wax and other products. One-third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. Without bees, life as we know it would cease to exist.
The Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on the bee resolution at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24 at Old City Hall, 2134 Martin Luther King Way, Berkeley. We expect the council will hear protests about bee stings. Some folks, whether they're allergic to bees or not, dislike bees simply because they sting. Say "bees" and they think "stings."
Bees? Stings. Bees. Stings.
That's not what bees are all about.
The Berkeley protestors should take a look at the UC Davis Arboretum. The UC Davis campus is oh, so fortunate to have an arboretum filled with bee friendly plants. The bees go about their business while arboretum fans go about theirs. Folks stroll the paths, relax on benches and admire the gardens--which include bees, butterflies and other insects.
And in October when the half-acre Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is dedicated on the grounds of Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis, the landscaping on campus will be even more enjoyable. It will be a place to inform, educate and entertain.
That's the way it should be.
Of course, plans for the Berkeley bee habitats would include precautions. All bee friendly landscaping would be planted at least 30 feet from children's play areas, barbecues, garbage cans and picnic tables.
"Staff would also post signs in the parks explaining the importance of bee habitats," Jones wrote.
Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates got it right when he told the Chronicle reporter: "I read about the bees declining and thought 'This is terrible. What can we do?' Making our parks pollinator-friendly is totally possible and economically feasible and a good way to help bees in our city."
Now the next step ought to be to encourage residents to plant bee friendly gardens.
Honey bee on salvia
To really know the honey bee industry, visit an apiary or bee yard.
From a distance, you'll see a beekeeper working the hives.
Look closer, and you'll see bees landing on visitors.
Look even closer, and you'll see an individual bee going about her work.
In the camera world, it's like going from a telephoto to a macro lens. Close, closer and closest yet.
These photos were taken yesterday (March 19) at three queen bee producing companis in Glenn County, located some 100 miles north of Sacramento. The occasion: UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey was leading her class of U.S. and international students on a tour of commercial queen bee producers. First stop: C. F. Koehen & Sons, Inc., in Glenn. Second stop: Heitkam's Honey Bees in Orland, and third, Olivarez Honey Bees, Inc., in Orland.