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‘Citizen Scientists’ To Help Gauge Wild Bee Population

Scientist Gretchen LeBuhn is trying to save the nation’s wild bee population. But to achieve her goal, she’s resorting to some unconventional means, namely the help of ordinary citizens from across the country.

On Saturday 100,000 ‘citizen scientist’ volunteers will spend about 15 minutes counting the number of bees that visit “lemon queen” sunflowers they’ve planted following instructions on LeBuhn’s website,www.greatsunflower.com. Participants will monitor the flowers for bees twice monthly through the end of the summer, uploading the information into a central database.

Studies have shown that pollinators affect 35 percent of the world’s crop production, but climate change and a little-understood phenomenon called “colony collapse disorder” are threatening honey bees, a key pollinator. Though researchers have reported a drastic decline in the populations of domesticated honeybees since at least 2006, the statistics on wild bees have remained more elusive.

LeBuhn hopes the new data will help scientists identify where native bee populations are doing well and where they’re doing poorly. Hopefully, the hundreds of thousands of sunflowers planted by volunteers will have the added benefits of providing wild bees with an enriched and expanded habitat.

“We’re really leveraging science dollars to do a survey we could never do using traditional methods,” said LeBuhn, an associate professor at San Francisco State University. “It would just be incredibly cost prohibitive. I was thinking of sending my grad students up to Napa [County] and having them count bees,” she added. “But to do that at any bigger scale than one county would be impossible. So it’s amazing to get all these people participating.”

Participants don’t need to know whether the bee they’re watching is a bumblebee, a carpenter bee or a honeybee, LeBuhn said, though a guide available on her website can help with identification.

There are more than 4,000 different species of native bees in North America, according to Science Daily, but many of them have already disappeared. LeBuhn says that of the nine species of bumblebees known to live in the San Francisco area, researchers have only been able to find four of them in recent years.

Click here to read the full article by by Lucia Graves on huffingtonpost.com

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TED TALK – Dennis vanEngelsdorp: a plea for bees

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gardendog:

Solar Beeswax Melter

I have a bunch of beeswax from cut-outs…so what to do? I came up with this design based on a few I’d seen online and was able to pull together most of the material from around the house. The concept is pretty simple – sun heats up metal, melting wax into a trough. 

Seemed to be working well, though I think it needs a full day of sun to fully melt the wax. It got warm enough today to melt the wax into piles, though not warm enough to make it run into the trough. We’ll see tomorrow after it gets full sun all day. 

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gardendog:

Tangerine Trees, Marmalade Hives

The other night fellow Backwards Beekeeper Roberta and I responded to a call in Culver City from a guy claiming to have a hive the size of two basketballs in his tangerine tree. Sure enough, we showed up to discover one of the largest tree hives any of us had seen. Despite being nearly sunset, we couldn’t resist and decided to try to take the whole thing while all the bees were in for the night. 

We were going to need back-up for this one, so Roberta called in Yvonne for some extra support. The three of us tediously trimmed away branches overhead, freeing the hive of the thousands of buttressing branches needed to keep this massive hive in place. Eventually we got it to a place where we could cut off one branch and bring the whole thing down. I held on to the limb as Roberta and Yvonne hacked away with a pole trimmer. After what felt like forever, we sawed our way through and were able to bring it down. 

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We trimmed the branches some more to allow us to stick the whole thing in a box. Surprisingly the bees were very cooperative throughout, all things considered. 

It was a major team effort and a lot of fun. Thanks Roberta and Yvonne, you guys are amazing!

Stay tuned for a video of this hive being cut-out and tied into their new home in a Langstroth hive.  

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gardendog:

FEATURED BEEKEEPER: 
Ed (Redondo Beach, CA)

Ed, a member of Backwards Beekeepers, is a man on a mission. His first encounter with bees came when a hive set up shop in his property. Not knowing his options, Ed had an exterminator out to get rid of the bees – a decision that haunts him to this day. As a gardener and wildlife lover, Ed set out to find a better option, a way to redeem himself. 

After some googling, Ed found the Backwards Beekeepers and the rest is history. He’s got bee fever as bad as anyone. 

In addition to going out and rescuing bees himself, Ed made friends with an exterminator who he convinced to do live captures. She now drops off at least three swarms a week. Ed basically runs a bee orphanage – connecting people who need bees with bees in need. 

Today we scooped up three swarms from him – two of which went to a new home in Laguna Beach 

The third of Ed’s rescues went to newbie beek Mark in Woodland Hills. 

Click here to read the full post by gardendog

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“Finding a Home” Night at the Mar Vista Community Council
“Rob and Chelsea McFarland spoke for another creature in vital need of a home: bees. Said that a world without bees is a world without food. The best way to protect bees is to give them homes wherever possible. The Council approved a pilot study for their bee program.”
Article by: Andy Shrader / Photo Credit: Roy Persinko

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Attracting Pollinators With Native Plants (pdf)

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Southern California Coastal Pollinator Planting Guide (pdf)

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The Melissa Garden  – a honeybee sanctuary (Healdsburg, CA)

“The “Weissenseifener Haengekorb” was designed by the german sculptor Guenther Mancke. The form and shape of the hive is created according to natural/wild bee hives. The design would like to reflect the oneness of the colony – what is called the “Bien”. The “Bien” describes the animal with a thousand body parts (individual bees). The “Bien” is an organic interpretation of an individual (Tautz). Already through his outer shape it reveals it’s nature– as if the egg shaped skep would be the outer shell or skin of this living being. The inner shape allows the “bien” to unfold it’s own natural gestalt, in harmony with it’s instinctual life forces.”

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How doth the little busy bee 
Improve each shining hour 
And gather honey all the day 
From every opening flower!

Isaac Watts

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