Backyard Orchard News
It was definitely a hot spot.
Honey bees foraging last week on a pomegranate tree on Hopkins Road, west of the UC Davis main campus, competed for food on hundreds of blossoms.
We counted five honey bees on one blossom alone in what amounted to a pushing/shoving match.
Most of the bees probably came from the nearby apiary at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road.
The pomegranate is an ancient fruit and the honey bee is an ancient insect. Millions of years ago, they grew up together in the Mediterranean region of southern Europe. European colonists brought the honey bee to our Eastern coast (Jamestown colony) in 1622; honey bees finally arrived in California in 1853. The pomegranate trees were introduced to California in 1769.
Five honey bees on one pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Four honey bees on one pomegranate blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Two bees on one pomegranate blossom, and about to be three. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Saturday, May 11 is "Moth-ers Day" at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis.
Moth-ers Day? Yes, moths have mothers, too!
The open house, free and open to the public, will take place at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
The focus is on moths, and moths of all sizes, shapes, colors and patterns will be displayed, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Most moths are nocturnal--unlike butterflies which fly during the day.
(As an aside, moth lovers and citizen scientists will unite for National Moth Week, July 20-29. As the website says, "Moths offer endless options for study, education, photography and fun.")
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million insect specimens and is the seventh largest insect collection in North America.
Visitors can also discover the popular live insects in the "petting zoo": Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
The gift shop (yes, credit cards are accepted) includes t-shirts, jewelry, insect nets, posters and books, including the newly published children’s book, “The Story of the Dogface Butterfly,” written by UC Davis doctoral candidate Fran Keller and illustrated (watercolor and ink) by Laine Bauer, a 2012 graduate of UC Davis. The 35-page book, geared toward kindergarteners through sixth graders, also includes photos by naturalist Greg Kareofelas of Davis, a volunteer at the Bohart.
The book tells the untold story of the California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice), Keller said. Bauer’s illustrations depict the life cycle of this butterfly and the children who helped designate it as the California state insect. Net proceeds from the book sales go directly to the education, outreach and research programs of the Bohart Museum. In addition, the book can be ordered online at http://www.bohartmuseum.com/the-story-of-the-dogface-butterfly.html.
Bohart officials schedule weekend open houses throughout the academic year so that families and others who cannot visit the insect museum on weekdays can do so on the weekends. The Bohart’s regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. The insect museum is closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
The last open house of the academic year is from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 9. The theme: "How to Find Insects."
For further information on Moth-ers Day, contact Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 752-0493.
A noctuid cutworm, which will turn into a "dull brown moth," crawls on yarrow in the UC Davis Arboretum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley)
This moth, detected in the UC Davis Arboretum, is a Plume Moth, family Pterophoridae. "It has a very characteristic way of folding its wings lengthwise and holding them perpendicular to the body," said Robbin Thorp, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You'll not only see honey bees in a bee observation hive, but specimens of bumble bees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees, long-horned bees, squash bees, plasterer bees, mining bees, leafcutter bees, wool carder bees and sweat bees.
The exhibit is in the Southard Floriculture Building on the May Fair grounds, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Participating are the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; and the newly formed UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton, owner of BD Ranch and Apiary and a volunteer at the Laidlaw facility for several years, is providing the bee observation hive, a glassed-in box that enables viewers to observe the activity that goes on inside a bee hive.
Fishback, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and member of the California State Beekeepers' Association, is an educator as well as a beekeeper. He speaks about bees at schools, organizations and festivals. His daughter, Emily, 2, accompanies him on many of his talks.
“Emily loves bees,” said Fishback, who keeps 125 hives on his property in Wilton. She knows that a bee has six legs, four wings and five eyes, and that each bee has three body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. She knows that a honey bee eats pollen and nectar, pollinates flowers and makes honey.”
UC Davis graduate students, including squash bee expert Katharina Ullmann and area beekeepers (among them Jesse Loren of Winters and Lindsay Weaver of Sacramento) will be available during part of the fair (weekend) to share their experiences with fairgoers.
Children attending the Dixon May Fair on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12 can make a "Honey Bee on a Stick," an arts and crafts project that doubles as a hand-held fan and puppet. Executive director Amina Harris of the Honey and Pollination Center, an area beekeeper and a former school teacher, will help the children create the take-home art. The free activity is from from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Southard Floriculture Building. Harris crafts the bee art using a yellow paper plate, duct tape, googly eyes, a stick, and pipe cleaners (for antennae).
The Dixon May Fair's floriculture building, staffed by superintendent Kathy Hicks of Dixon, includes stunning garden displays and a myriad of plants and cut flowers. It is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback shows his daughter, Emily, his bee observation hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A day in the life of a single worker bee...
A honey bee tumbles off the flowering catmint (Nepeta) and struggles to right herself.
Her wings tattered, her body battered, she does not buzz away.
Perhaps she is approaching the end of her six-week lifespan--three weeks working inside the hive and three weeks working outside the hive. Bee scientists say that worker bees literally work themselves to death.
As a forager, she likely made about 40 trips a day gathering nectar and pollen. Forty trips a day. It's like going to the grocery store 40 times a day. Oops, forgot something. Got to return to the store.
Bees can forage from a distance of up 5 miles away from their colony, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
She's just one bee of about 60,000 in the colony. And now, she will not return. She may have eaten something she shouldn't have or may have an intestinal infection, surmised Mussen.
Or maybe she was poisoned by a pesticide, snagged by a bird, bitten by a spider, or ravaged by Varroa mites.
Still, seeing a honey bee tumble off a blossom and die is something we humans rarely observe.
Meanwhile, her sisters keep working the blossoms, tasks needed to keep the colony alive. Back at the hive, the queen bee is busily laying about 2000 eggs a day to replace all the adult bees who die every day.
A day in the life of a single worker bee...
Honey bee tumbles off a flowering catmint and lands on a leaf. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Tattered wings of a honey bee. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee thrusts out her proboscis (tongue). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's not "Rise and Shine!" any more.
It's "Sparkle and Shine."
"Sparkle and Shine," a yellow rose related to the Julia Child Rose, drew quite a bit of attention at the UC Davis event, "Roses: the "Eyeconic Weekend," sponsored May 4-5 by the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at Foundation Plant Services, 455 Hopkins Road, west of the central campus.
Participants loved it--and so did the honey bees. The bees--probably from the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility--beelined to that floribunda, but they also foraged on many other roses.
CCUH executive director Dave Fujino described the event as quite successful. The good news is that some of the roses are still available for sale. An online rose catalog depicts such roses as Yabba Dabba Doo, Big Momma, Tiddly Winks, Wild Blue Yonder, McCartney Rose, Passionate Kisses, and Oh My!
You can email Fujino at email@example.com with your rose request (and ascertain the availability) and then purchase the roses at the Foundation Plant Services site, corner of Hopkins and Straloch roads, from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8 and Friday, May 10, Fujino said. (From west Hutchison Drive, take Hopkins Road and then Straloch Road. See map.)
Then it's gearing up for next year's rose days. The event (free admission) is always held the first weekend of May, right before Mother's Day. Guests look forward to touring eight acres of roses, learning rose care at informational/training sessions, and gracing their gardens with their choices.
The bees foraging on the roses are "free" but they won't go home with you because they already have a home!
Honey bee foraging on a yellow rose, "Sparkle and Shine!" (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sign tells it all. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Dave Fujino, executive director of the California Center for Urban Horticulture with Missy Gable, newly selected statewide director of the UC Master Gardener Program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)