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Posts Tagged: native bees

Pollinator Gardening!

If you want to learn about what bees do, and how gardeners can support healthy pollinator populations through simple gardening practice, then this is for you: Your Sustainable Backyard: Pollinator Gardening.

Sponsored by the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH), it's a workshop set from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, April 28 on the UC Davis campus. It's for all who love gardening, says coordinator Melissa "Missy" Gable, program manager of CCUH.  

"This workshop is designed both to inspire gardeners and equip them with all the necessary tools to provision pollinating insects in their own landscape," Gable says. "Without the pollination services of European honey bees and native bees, what fruits and vegetables would be accessible to us?"

The first part will include talks by entomologists, horticulturists and design experts from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Room 101 of Giedt Hall.

Lynn Kimsey
, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology at UC Davis, and Dave Fujino, executive director of CCHU, will welcome the crowd from 8:45 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, will speak on "Bees 101: Species Diversity and Behavior" from 9 to 4:45 a.m. Then ,  pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor of entomology at UC Davis, will discuss "Importance of Pollinators and Conservation."

Ellen Zagory, director of horticulture at the UC Davis Arboretum will cover "Bee Plants" from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. The last workshop speaker, Vicki Wojcik, associate program manager of Pollinator Partnership will zero in on "Pollinator Gardening: Design and Maintenance" from12:30 to 1:15 p.m.

Following the formal presentations, participants are invited to (1) tour the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, and (2) visit the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery, where they can see the pollinator demonstration beds and have an opportunity to buy plants at a specially held sale inside the nursery. Members of the Friends of the Arboretum will receive a 10 percent discount.

Both the haven and the UC Davis Arboretum Teaching Nursery will be open from 1:30 to 4 p.m. Thorp and Gable will be at the haven to answer questions during the self-guided tours, and Zagory will be on hand in the teaching nursery's demonstration gardens to field questions.

The registration fee of $45 registration includes parking, morning coffee/tea, scones and a gourmet boxed lunch. See registration site.

This definitely is "the place to bee."

A green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) on a cone flower at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
A green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus) on a cone flower at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A green sweat bee (Agapostemon texanus), on a cone flower at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee and yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) sharing a cone flower in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee and yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) sharing a cone flower in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey bee and yellow-faced bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) sharing a cone flower in the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 9:29 PM

Your Basic Bee Book

Beatriz Moisset
Not all bees are honey bees.

Not all floral visitors are bees.

That's why we're glad to see the publication of Bee Basics:  An Introduction to Our Native Bees.

It will introduce folks to such native bees as leafcutter bees, sweat bees and bumble bees.

It's co-authored by retired biologist Beatriz Moisset of Willow Grove, Pa., and entomologist Stephen Buchmann, international coordinator of the Pollinator Partnership, based in San Francisco. The illustrations, based on Buchmann's photos, are by Steve Buchanan of Wingsted, Conn., known for creating the U.S. Postal Service’s pollinator stamps that were issued June 29, 2007.

Steve Buchmann
Buchmann and Moisset describe native bees as “hidden treasures.”

“From forests to farms, from cities to wildlands, there are 4000 native bee species in the United States, from the tiny Perdita minima to large carpenter bees,” they wrote.

“The honey bee, remarkable as it is, does not know how to pollinate tomato or eggplant flowers. It does very poorly compared to native bees when pollinating many native plants, such as pumpkins, cherries, blueberries, and cranberries.”

The book includes descriptions and illustrations of bees from such families as Apidae, Andrenidae, Halictidae, Megachilidae and Colletidae.

They wrote: “The members of the five most common families, Apidae, Halictidae, Andrenidae, Megachilidae and Colletidae, can be found throughout the North American continent from Canada and Alaska to warm and sunny Florida and Mexico; from forests to deserts; from remote wildernesses to gardens and backyards; even the National Mall in the heart of our nation’s capital sports a native bee fauna. Perhaps the only places where bees are absent are the high mountains.”

“There is even a hardy little bee, the arctic bumble bee, which lives within the Arctic Circle.”

The booklet also offers tips on how to attract pollinators. A great resource!

Steve Buchmann, of Tucson, Ariz.,  received his doctorate in entomology from the University of California, Davis with major professor Robbin Thorp. Now an adjunct faculty member in the entomology and EEB (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology) departments at the University of  Arizona, Buchmann is the author of 150 scientific publications and 12 bbooks, including The Forgotten Pollinators.

Beatriz Moisset, born in Argentina and a resident of the United States for more than 40 years, obtained her doctorate in biology from the University of Cordoba, Argentina. She completed her postdoctoral work at the Jackson Laboratories, Bar Harbor, Maine studying neurochemistry and behavior. A multitalented person (she's an artist, photographer, author and public speaker), she has displayed her pastels and oil paintings at many art shows and contributes her insect photography to the online resource BugGuide.Net.

“I became interested in pollinators after my retirement, combining photography and painting with field observations,” Moisset said.

The book, a USDA Forest Service and Pollinator Partnership Publication, can be ordered from the Pollinator Partnership website for a small donation.

The cover of Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees.
The cover of Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees.

The cover of Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees.

Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 9:07 PM

Hole in One

First you give them roots, then you give them wings.

That's what's happening in our bee condo, a wooden block (nest) with drilled holes for leafcutting bees (Megachile).

They flew in, laid their eggs, provisioned the nests with pollen and leaf fragments, and capped the holes.

We had 11 tenants. Now there's a hole in one.

Success! A leafcutting bee emerged.  Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says that "Some leafcutting bees, especially the introduced ones like the alfalfa leafcutting bee, have more than one generation per year.  Bees of the second and third generation may clean out or partly clean out old nest holes like this and construct a new nest inside.  Sometimes you can find new leaf material inside the old cocoon of the previous nest builder.  Thus, the tunnels get smaller in diameter with succeeding generations.  Kind of like the build up of old cocoons in honey bee comb and resulting smaller inner diameter of the brood cells in old dark comb."

It's all rather exciting being a "beekeeper." We've never had a hole in one--'til now.

If you, too, want to keep native bees, Thorp has compiled a list of where you can buy homes for them or where you can learn how to build your own.  The list is on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research facility website.

You can also buy them at beekeeping supply stores.

Now that we have a hole in one, 10 tenants to go...

Hole in one--a hole signifying the emergence of a leafcutting bee (Megachile). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hole in one--a hole signifying the emergence of a leafcutting bee (Megachile). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Hole in one--a hole signifying the emergence of a leafcutting bee (Megachile). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Leafcutting bee provisioning her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee provisioning her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Leafcutting bee provisioning her nest. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Leafcutting bee on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Leafcutting bee on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Leafcutting bee on sedum. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Friday, August 12, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Going Native

It's good to see so much interest in native bees and native plants.

At the UC Davis Department of Entomology, we're frequently contacted by folks throughout the country asking what to plant to attract pollinators--native bees, honey bees (honey bees not native; European colonists brought them over here in 1622), and other pollinators.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation has a wonderful list of native plants on its website. You click on your region and you'll be directed to a list.

If you poke around the Xerces Society website, you can find information on why native bee habitats are important and how to create native bee habitats. Also check out the pollinator handbook and the fact sheets.

Plant lists are available to download below in PDF format.

Plants for Native Bees in North America

Plants for Native Bees in the Pacific Northwest

Plants for Native Bees in California

Plants for Native Bees in the Upper Midwest

California Central Coast Pollinator Plant List

California Central Valley Pollinator Plant List

Northern California Sierra Foothill Pollinator Plant List

Southern California Pollinator Plants Coast and Foothill Regions

Pollinator Plants for California Almond Orchards


Other good sources of information include native plant societies; the Cal Flora site; and the Urban Bee Gardens project on the UC Berkeley site.

Pollinator
Pollinator

FEMALE SWEAT BEE, Halictus ligatus, on a seaside daisy, Erigeron glaucus x Wayne Roderick, in the Storer Garden, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee
Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee

YELLOW-FACED bumble bee (Bombus vosnesenskii) on a purple coneflower, Echinacea purpurea, at the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Monday, January 10, 2011 at 9:21 PM

So Many Bees

Folks accustomed to seeing only honey bees (which are non-natives) buzzing around their yard probably aren't aware that in the United States alone there are some 4000 identified species of native bees.

And they probably aren't aware of The Bee Course

That's a workshop offered for conservation biologists, pollination ecologists and other biologists who want to gain greater knowledge of the systematics and biology of bees. It's held annually in Portal, Ariz. in the Chiricahua Mountains at the Southwest Research Station of the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). This year's dates are Aug. 22-Sept. 1.

Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and active in the Xerces Society, has taught at The Bee Course since 2002.

The course, led by Jerry Rozen of AMNH, has been operating continuously since 1999, Thorp said, and UC Davis graduates are very much involved. Steve Buchmann who received his Ph.D. at UC Davis in 1978, is one of the instructors. Ron McGinley who received his undergraduate degree at UC Davis, does most of the initial student contact and scheduling for the course, Thorp said.

"There are usually about eight instructors and 22 participants for the 10- day course," Thorp said. "Most of the time is spent in the lab identifying bees to genus.  At least three days are spent in the field so students can see various bees doing their thing, collect them and bring them back to the lab to ID them.  It is a great experience for students to interact with instructors and especially with their peers from round the world."

"Instructors all donate their time to teach in the course, but benefit from the chance to get together with colleagues and a new cohort of interesting students each year.  Every class is different--that is, it takes on its own personality--and each student brings something new and different to the mix."

More locally, Thorp will speak Sunday, March 7 on the amazing diversity of native bees at the 2010 Bee Symposium, sponsored by the Santa Rosa-based Partners for Sustainable Pollination (PFSP). He'll discuss their nesting habits and nest site requirements. The symposium takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Subud Center,  234 Hutchins Ave., Sebastopol.

The fourth annual conference will offer updates and new perspectives on honey bees and native pollinators, according to PFSP executive director Kathy Kellison. 

It's good to see the focus on native bees as well as honey bees. For more information on native bees, be sure to check out the Xerces Society Web site and UC Berkeley's Native Bee Gardens.

Yolo County Bee Collection
Yolo County Bee Collection

THIS COLLECTION of bees, by native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, shows the wide diversity of bees in Yolo County. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Metallic Green Sweat Bee
Metallic Green Sweat Bee

THIS is a male green sweat bee, Agapostemon texanus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Cuckoo Bee
Cuckoo Bee

THIS is a cuckoo bee, probably the genus Triepeolus, maybe Epeolus, and probably a male (identification by Robbin Thorp). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sunflower Bee
Sunflower Bee

FEMALE SUNFLOWER BEE, Diadasia enavata, family Apidae. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Carpenter Bee
Carpenter Bee

THIS is a carpenter bee (Xylocopa tabaniformis). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Posted on Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 7:33 PM

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