Backyard Orchard News
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)
A video of the soil health workshops that were held last week on Tuesday, December 10th in Davis and Wednesday, December 11th in Five Points with Jay Fuhrer, a district conservationist with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service office in Bismarck, ND and Brendon Rockey, a farmer from Center, CO is now available for viewing. These workshops attracted over 150 participants and generated many good ideas and interactions between attendees.
The Conservation Agriculture Systems Institute (CASI) thanks all who took part and also extends warm gratitude to Jay and Brendon for taking the time to share their experiences with California Ag stakeholders.
Biotic soil resulting from conservation agriculture practices.
During this season, Carlos Crisosto, CE postharvest physiologist, Kearney Agricultural Research & Extension Center and the UC Davis Plant Sciences Department, is often asked how to determine maturity, as well as best practices for harvesting and storage of ‘Fuyu’ persimmons. ‘Fuyu’ persimmons completely lose their astringency before harvest and can be consumed while they are still firm. Harvest time is usually determined according to the fruit color and size. The best method of harvesting is to clip the fruit from the tree with small clippers (orange clippers), leaving the calyx attached to the fruit. It is also possible to snap the fruit from the tree but this practice is not recommended as it may injure the fruit and adjoining shoot. During harvesting and packaging, fruit must be handled carefully to avoid bruising, which can result in undesired marking as the fruit ripens. Penicillium, Botrytis and Cladosporium fungi may infect ‘Fuyu’ persimmons during storage, especially, if the skin has been damaged during postharvest handling.
‘Fuyu’ persimmons are very sensitive to chilling injury which is expressed by accelerated fruit softening, flesh browning, and translucency (jelly-like consistency) during and after storage. These symptoms appear more severe after 2-4 days at 68oF (20oC) following storage. Chilling injury is more rapid and severe at 41oF (5oC), especially, combined with ethylene exposure. Previous studies led by Dr. Kader demonstrated that exposure to 1 and 10 ppm ethylene at 68oF (20oC) resulted in accelerated softening to less than 4 pound-force ( the limit for marketability) after 6 and 2 days, respectively. Exposure to 1 and 10 ppm ethylene at 41oF (5oC) will induce fruit firmness below 4 pound-force (soft) after 15 and 8 days, respectively. Therefore, the use of 1-MCP, ethylene removal and/or exclusion of ethylene during packaging and storage at 32oF (0oC) operations is strongly recommended for maintaining quality and extending ‘Fuyu’ persimmon storage life potential.
A ‘Fuyu’ persimmon is firm when mature.
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)