Posts Tagged: artichoke
Bee food. That's what the globe artichoke is. Bee food.
Many of us let our artichokes flower, not because we don't like the vegetable, but because we like bees better.
Whether you see bees flying in formation, or in a gaggle (lacking organization), they're making a beeline to the artichoke (Cynara cardunculus).
Although native to the Mediterranean region, the artichoke is California's official vegetable, as proclaimed on April 10, 2013 by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. And why not? California produces nearly 100 percent of the U.S. crop, and Monterey County (home of Castroville, the self-proclaimed Artichoke Center of the World) accounts for 80 percent of the crop.
We never tire of watching the bees navigate "the purple forest," threading in and out of the petals, trying one entrance and exiting another and returning like giddy explorers without a map.
Humans would need a GPS or an app for that.
Honey bees flying in formation toward an artichoke in bloom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Carrying heavy loads of pollen, bees look for more. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A hot spot! Honey bees engage in a little pushing and shoving. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
What the world needs now is "love, sweet love" and...more ladybugs.
Ladybeetles are our friends. They gobble up aphids and other pests in our garden, and then look around for more. They have insatiable appetites.
Last Friday morning, as volunteers worked in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, University of California, Davis, the artichoke plants stirred.
Two ladybugs were in the midst of making more ladybugs.
Yes! We need more ladybugs.
During the grand opening celebration of the haven on Sept. 11, we spotted a web-weaving spider eating a ladybug.
One ladybug gone.
But many more to come.
Volunteers interesting in tending the plants--and maybe spotting a few ladybugs, as well as honey bees, butterflies, dragonflies, sweat bees, praying mantids and a variety of other insects in the garden--can show up at the haven on Fridays at 8:30 a.m.
Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager of the California Center for Urban Horticulture, UC Davis, and one of the key persons involved in the development of the garden, is coordinating the volunteers. She can be reached at email@example.com or (530) 752-6642.
And oh, if you like to capture images of plant and animal life inside the garden, don't forget your camera.
Beneath a Leaf
Honey bees have a "choke hold" on artichokes.
They absolutely love flowering artichokes.
Take the artichokes blooming in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Sometimes 10 or 15 bees try to gather on a single blossom.
The "beeline" of honey bees, bumble bees and sweat bees turns into a collision course not unlike a NASCAR race.
"Hot spot," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. "They're all heading for that hot spot of nectar."
The artichoke (Cynara crdunculus)? It's a thistle, and bees are ravenously fond of thistles.
A rule of thumb: When you're trying to attract bees, don't harvest the artichokes. Let them bloom.
Lots of Bees