Billed as "the first comprehensive guide to North American bumble bees to be published in more than a century," it allows readers, both amateurs and professionals, to identify all 46 bumble bee species found in North America and learn about their ecology, changing geographic distributions, and the endangered and threatened species.
Bumble bees, you know, are among the most recognizable of the world's 20,000 species of bees. The genus, Bombus, has only 250 species. A small number, indeed.
A yellow-faced bumble bee, Bombus vosnesenskii, on tower of jewels. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee and yellow-faced bumble bee sharing a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's time for a spray of sunshine.
The golden daisy bush (genus Euryops, family Asteraeae), will do that to you.
The popular perennial both brightens your garden and attracts honey bees and other insects. The name originates from "eurys," Greek for "large" and "ops," meaning eye. Native to South Africa, the genus has about 100 species.
When the wintry andscape seems as drab as a rotten burlap sack, bee-hold the Euryops.
We spotted honey bees foraging on the shrub last Sunday at the Loch Lomond Marina, San Rafael, as the temperature rose to 60 degrees.
Honey bee heading for Euryops. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A perfect match: Euryops and a bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
"How to Attract and Maintain Pollinators in Your Garden."
That's the title of a new publication by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and what a gem this is. It's not only a gem, but it's free. You can download the publication on this site.
"Nearly all ecosystems on earth depend on pollination of flowering plants for their existence and survival; furthermore, from 70 to 75 percent of the world's flowering plants and over one-third of the world's crop species depend on pollination for reproduction," the authors write. "Take a stroll through your neighborhood or a botanical garden or hike in the hills, and experience the shapes and smells of flowers surrounding you. When most people look at a flower, they notice the shape, smell, composition, or structure of the flower, but few take a moment to consider why the blossom appears and smells as it does."
The publication is the work of a nine-member team: UC Berkeley entomologist Gordon Frankie and lab assistants Marissa Ponder (lead author), Mary Schindler, Sara Leon Guerrero, and Jaime Pawelek; international landscape designer Kate Frey; Rachel Elkins, UC Cooperative Extension pomology advisor, Lake and Mendocino counties; Rollin Coville, photographer, UC Berkeley; and Carolyn Shaffer, lab assistant, UC Cooperative Extension, Lake County. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, helped edit the publication.
The publication asks and answers such questions as:
- What Is Pollination?
- Who Are the Pollinators?`
- Why Should You Care About Pollination?
- How Can You Attract Pollinators to Your Garden?
Other topics include:
- General Design Recommendations for Pollinator Habitat
- Designs to Attract Specific Pollinators
- A List of Pollinator Plants That are Successful in Most California Gardens
- Nesting Resources for Native Bees
Of bees, the authors write: "Bees are the most important biotic agent for the pollination of agricultural crops, horticultural plants, and wildflowers...approximately 4000 species of bees exist in the United States, with 1600 of those residing in California. About 20,000 species have been recorded worldwide."
And, as they succinctly point out, "Native bee species come in a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and lifestyles that enable them to pollinate a diversity of plant species." One of our favorites is the metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus).
Last September we enjoyed a tour of Melissa's Garden, Healdsburg, a bee sanctuary owned by Barbara and Jacques Schlumberger and designed by the incredibly talented Kate Frey. “If a honey bee could design a garden, what would it look like?” That's what the Schlumbergers asked Frey back in November of 2007. Although this is a private garden, the Schlumbergers host workshops for schoolchildren, beekeepers and UC Master Gardeners, among other groups. if you ever get the opportunity to tour the garden, you should. A sculpture of Bernard the Beekeeper graces the entrance.
Melissa's Garden is mentioned in the UC ANR Publication, as is the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis and the UC Berkeley-Oxford Tract Bee Evaluation Garden. Also check out the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab website.
A sculpture of Bernard the Beekeeper graces the entrance to Melissa's Garden, Healdsburg. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee foraging in Melissa's Garden. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A metallic green sweat bee on a seaside daisy. It is one of some 1600 species of bees in California. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
International landscape designer Kate Frey (left) of Hopland and her childhood friend, Rachael Long, Yolo County farm advisor/county director of the UC Cooperative Extension, Woodland on a visit to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, UC Davis, in September. Behind them is the mosaic ceramic bee sculpture created by Donna Billick, co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
These freezing temperatures we're experiencing make us yearn for spring.
True, it's still autumn and winter doesn't officially start until Dec. 22, but it's a good time to think of honey bees pollinating the almond blossoms.
California almonds usually bloom around mid-February. We remember, however, that on Jan. 1, 2013 we spotted almonds blooming in the Benicia State Recreation Area. Guess they didn't get the message that it's not spring yet. Bees didn't get the message, either.
Then in early February we cruised over to Matthew Turner Shipyard Park, Benicia, and saw more almond blossoms and a bevy of bees flying.
Let's skip the winter solstice and head right into the vernal equinox!/span>
The freezing temperatures make us yearn for almond pollination season. This photo was taken Feb. 10, 2013 in the Matthew Turner Shipyard Park, Benicia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you're looking for a cause to support, consider the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Davis.
The museum crew, led by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and dedicated.
They have gained a state, national and international reputation as a key source of information. The museum houses nearly eight million insect specimens, collected from all over the world. In addition to the insect specimens, they maintain a "live" petting zoo that includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. A year-around gift shop is stocked with t-shirts, sweatshirts, jewelry, books, posters, insect nets, butterfly habitats, and insect-themed candy.
"Every year we have new insect adventures and those head-slapping moments when you think 'insects do that, really?'" Kimsey wrote in a recent letter, adding that "2013 has been a very active year, with our staff and students strengthening our efforts to provide services and educational programs to the public. We are very proud of our dedicated group of volunteers and staff who bring insect-based programs to schools and public functions throughout northern California."
As in the past, long-time supporters Marius and Joanne Wasbauer have given the Bohart Museum another challenge grant of $5000. "They hope that their gift will inspire others to give and they will match your gift, one-for-one, up to $5000," Kimsey wrote. "Funds from the campaign will be deposited in the museum endowment, which provides invaluable operating support to the museum, its collections, programs and staff."
Folks can donate online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com.
Folks can also sign up for a sponsorship of $2500 to be eligible to participate in the Bohart's BioLegay program and will be able to name one of the new species listed on the BioLegacy website, http://biolegacy.ucdavis.edu. This contribution could also be counted toward the Wasbauer challenge grant.
The insect museum is located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge building on Crocker Lane, near the LaRue Road intersection. It's open to the public Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m. Special weekend hours are also offered, as are group tours. Contact Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Noted entomologist Jerry Powell, director emeritus of the Essig Museum of Entomology, UC Berkeley, volunteers at the Bohart Museum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist Jerry Powell selects a specimen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ethan Wells, 7, of the Woodland Montessori School, delights in an Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hands reach out to touch the Australian walking stick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)