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Posts Tagged: National Pollinator Week

An Apple from Your Pollinator

An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but thankfully, they don't keep our bees away. The blossoms, that is. We need those pollinators!

During National Pollinator Week, June 16-22, it's a good idea to pay tribute to the apple. 

If you've ever photographed a bee on an apple blossom, then captured an image of apples hanging from the branches, and then aimed your camera at a basket of apples, you can easily see the connection from A (apple) to B (bounty), thanks to our bees.

Apples (Malus domestica of the rose family, Rosaceae) is an ancient fruit, originating from Central Asia. In fact, you can still find its wild ancestor Malus sieversii, there today, according to Wikipedia.

Pomologists tell us that there are now more than 7500 cultivates of apples.

Apples are not only bee business but big business. "About 69 million tons of apples were grown worldwide in 2010, and China produced almost half of this total," Wikipedia tells us. "The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 6 percent of world production. Turkey is third, followed by Italy, India and Poland.”

Hats off to the pollinators!

A honey bee pollinating an apple blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A honey bee pollinating an apple blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A honey bee pollinating an apple blossom. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Apples hanging from a tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Apples hanging from a tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Apples hanging from a tree. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey

The bounty--thanks to bees! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The bounty--thanks to bees! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

The bounty--thanks to bees! (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, June 20, 2014 at 8:49 PM

The Colors of Pollinator Week

As we near the end of celebrating National Pollinator Week, June 16-22, look around and see all the insects foraging on reddish-orange flowers. And occasionally, you might see a reddish-orange insect like the showy Gulf Fritillary butterfly.

Orange, a color commonly associated with autumn, Halloween and Thanksgiving, is also a color that brightens many of our seasons and draws attention to special occasions, including Pollinator Week.

The reddish-orange Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) spreads its wings on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). A honey bee (Apis mellifera) and a sunflower bee (Melissodes agilis)  forage on a blanket flower (Gallardia). Another bee, the leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, and a green bottle fly take a liking to a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia).

Pollinators come in all sizes, shapes, colors and species, from bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles, to flies.

Many folks throughout the country observe National Pollinator Week once a year, but some organizations, such as the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, protect our pollinators and promote pollinator conservation every day.

On their website:

"Pollinators are essential to our environment. The ecological service they provide is necessary for the reproduction of over 85 percent of the world's flowering plants, including more than two-thirds of the world's crop species. The United States alone grows more than one hundred crops that either need or benefit from pollinators, and the economic value of these native pollinators is estimated at $3 billion per year in the U.S. Beyond agriculture, pollinators are keystone species in most terrestrial ecosystems. Fruits and seeds derived from insect pollination are a major part of the diet of approximately 25 percent of all birds, and of mammals ranging from red-backed voles to grizzly bears. In many places, the essential service of pollination is at risk from habitat loss, pesticide use, and introduced disease."

Indeed, pollinators pack a punch.

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) spreads its wings on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) spreads its wings on a purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae) spreads its wings on a purple coneflower(Echinacea purpurea) (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A sunflower bee (Melissodes agilis)  forages on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A sunflower bee (Melissodes agilis) forages on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A sunflower bee (Melissodes agilis) forages on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A green bottle fly rests on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A green bottle fly rests on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A green bottle fly rests on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on a blanket flower (Gallardia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) on a blanket flower (Gallardia) (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A leafcutting bee, Megachile fidelis, on a Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, June 19, 2014 at 10:31 PM

It's National Pollinator Week!

Honey bee on zinnia. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's National Pollinator Week! Do you know where your pollinators are?

It was good to see the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) conduct its recent "Be a Scientist" project. Thousands of participants across the state counted pollinators (and also mapped places where food is grown and checked off the ways they are conserving water), according to Pam Kan-Rice, assistant director, News and Information Outreach, UC ANR.

In a news release posted this week, she reported that "10,697 people counted pollinators, including bees, butterflies, bird and even a few bats."

“It's encouraging to see so many Californians interested in pollinators because they play a vital role in producing food,” said Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC vice president for agriculture and natural resources, in the news release. “People are conserving water in many different ways, which is important because water is a limited resource even in non-drought years. And, surprisingly, almost half of the people participating in our survey said they grow food.”

"Preliminary results," Kan-Rice reported, "show that people counted 37,961 pollinators in a three-minute period. Flies were by far the most abundant, accounting for 79 percent of the pollinators counted."

Meanwhile, on the national level, the Pollinator Partnership announced that National Pollinator Week, established by U.S. Congress in 2007, is growing by leaps and bounds. (Or maybe by wings and feet.)

In a press release, the Pollinator Partnership officials wrote: "Pollinators, like bees, butterflies, birds and other animals, bring us one in every three bites of food, protect our environment. They form the underpinnings of a healthy and sustainable future."

One of the many ways we can protect our pollinators is to pass the Highways BEE Act, introduced in Congress by Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), co-chairs of the Congressional Pollinator Protection Caucus (CP2C), to create and/or preserve pollinator habitat along our highways. Individuals, along with regional and local organizations, are signing an online petition at http://www.pollinator.org/BEEAct.htm.

BEE is an acronym for "Bettering the Economy and Environment" Pollinator Protection Act.

And at the UC Davis level, the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is hosting an open house at its Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Friday night, June 20, in observation of National Pollinator Week. The event, free and open to the public, will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. Visitors will receive zinnia seeds until they're all gone.

The bee garden, installed next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility in the fall of 2009 with generous financial support from the premier ice cream company, is a year-around food source for bees and is also intended to raise public awareness of the plight of the honey bees and to provide ideas on what to plant in our own gardens.

When you walk through the front gates, you'll immediately see the six-foot-long mosaic ceramic honey bee created by self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. It's anatomically correct right down to the wax glands.

Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who recently retired as a professional bee wrangler, talks bees with Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC ANR vice president. The bee sculpture, in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is the work of Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who recently retired as a professional bee wrangler, talks bees with Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC ANR vice president. The bee sculpture, in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is the work of Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis who recently retired as a professional bee wrangler, talks bees with Barbara Allen-Diaz, UC ANR vice president. The bee sculpture, in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, is the work of Donna Billick. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

That's one pollinator! Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC ANR, holds up a finger designating one pollinator. This is Donna Billick's bee sculpture in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It was funded by Wells Fargo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
That's one pollinator! Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC ANR, holds up a finger designating one pollinator. This is Donna Billick's bee sculpture in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It was funded by Wells Fargo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

That's one pollinator! Barbara Allen-Diaz, vice president of UC ANR, holds up a finger designating one pollinator. This is Donna Billick's bee sculpture in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. It was funded by Wells Fargo. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Tuesday, June 17, 2014 at 10:26 PM

Not Your Usual Pollinator

Since this is National Pollinator Week, you're probably out celebrating the bees--maybe doing hand stands, cartwheels and pirouettes.

But have you ever thought about beetles as pollinators? They are.

We spotted this little critter on a California golden poppy at the Sonoma Mission in Sonoma, Calif. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, knew what it was immediately, even though through all the pollen.

It's a melyrid beetlea flightless beetle. Some species found elsewhere in the world are loaded with poison and are eaten by poison-dart frogs and passerine birds, including the pitohui. Scientists writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) say these frogs and birds derive their poison from melyrid beetles and if they don't eat enough of them, they lose their toxicity. Indeed, there's a golden poison-dart frog that carries enough venom to kill 10 people, according to National Geographic.  

If you want to know what this melyrid beetle looks like when it's not wearing its coat of many pollen grains, check out this photo by Peter Bryant of UC Irvine and another photo by Thomas Roach of Lincoln, Calif., an insect photographer and a frequent visitor to the Bohart Museum of Entomology on the UC Davis campus.

Melyrid beetle (Endeodes insularis) on a poppy petal. (Photo y Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Melyrid beetle (Endeodes insularis) on a poppy petal. (Photo y Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Melyrid beetle (Endeodes insularis) on a poppy petal. (Photo y Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of melyrid beetle covered with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Close-up of melyrid beetle covered with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Close-up of melyrid beetle covered with pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Have You Hugged Your Pollinator Today?

Have you hugged your favorite pollinator today?

It's National Pollinator Week, and you're allowed to do that this week. Actually, any time you feel the inclination.

Honey bees, bumble bees, wool carder bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees--they're all out there, ready for a hug.

'Course, they may misinterpret your actions.

This is the fifth annual Pollinator Week, when we pay tribute to bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles--and flies, too. Don't forget the flies. And all the other pollinators out there.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging us to celebrate pollinators June 20-26. Perhaps what we should do, along with celebrating them, is vow to save them.

Female wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) heads for lupine at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Female wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) heads for lupine at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Female wool carder bee (Anthidium manicatum) heads for lupine at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) sips nectar from a marguerite daisy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee (Apis mellifera) sips nectar from a marguerite daisy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee (Apis mellifera) sips nectar from a marguerite daisy. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) foraging on a coneflower.  (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) foraging on a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Metallic green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) foraging on a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) nectaring a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) nectaring a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) nectaring a coneflower. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 7:38 PM

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