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“Bay Area’s ‘urban’ bees like native, diverse plantings”

By Lou Fancher via mercurynews.com

Bay Area's 'urban' bees

Dr. Gordon Frankie said native bees have preferences, and knowing what they like can improve the health of your garden.

“If they have a choice, they’ll go after native plants,” said Frankie, a professor and research entomologist at UC Berkeley. He and Steve Gentry, a founding member of the Mount Diablo Beekeepers Association, teamed up for a recent Lafayette Library Foundation Science Cafe presentation.

Frankie’s point — that local gardeners hoping to attract Agapostemon texanus or Xylocopa varipuncta, two local native bee species, should include native plants in their gardening plans. And mulching should be done lightly because 70 percent of all native bees nest in the ground and can’t burrow through materials heavier than soil.

A project at Frog Hollow Farm and other Brentwood farms is demonstrating the impact of placing native plants between crop rows.

Urban areas are ideal for bees, Frankie claimed, because of the diverse food supply they offer. The Oxford Tract Bee Garden he and his team of researchers planted allows them to monitor and categorize bees’ attraction to native and nonnative plants. A 10-city survey across California is providing a detailed picture of the bee population. San Diego, he said, is the worst city for attracting bees.

“It’s their gardening culture: No one is using diverse, floral plants,” Frankie said.

On the other end of the spectrum, a 30-by-30-foot garden in Ukiah had 68 bee species, and Santa Cruz is a hotbed beehive community. (The Bay Area is fifth on that list.)

Gentry, known by local residents as “Bee Man” — although he is considering an upgrade to “Emperor of Bees” — began the popular event’s 60-minute talk with a bucket.

“All of these products from bees are helpful to humans,” he declared, pulling hunks of beeswax and jars of honey, pollen and actual bees from the container. “Their history goes back thousands of years.”

Within five minutes, Gentry had advocated (beeswax is used for lubricants in cosmetics, candles, wax-resist dyeing and food preserving), acknowledged (“We have some hindrance about eating insects, but watch a bear break into a bee’s nest. He’ll eat the whole thing,” he said), and advertised (pollen is the new superfood, with protein, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, according to Gentry).

He also shared a 30-year-old epiphany he had while watching a black bear and her two cubs demolish a rotted tree while feasting on termites.

“I wasn’t the first person to see natural things. Forty thousand years ago, hunter-gatherers watched bears, bees and insects, too. The timeline is long,” he said.

Skipping through honeybee history, from Middle Eastern origins to monks in monasteries needing dependable light sources to small farmers before World War I who kept just enough hives to feed their families and pollinate their crops, Gentry landed on the contemporary world’s bee dilemmas.

“Industrialization changed farms. They became bigger, and now, large pollination contracts and commercial beekeeping are driving the business. (More than a million) hives are brought into the central Southern California valley for pollinating almonds each year.”

Frankie, whose business is less about keeping bees and more about watching them, asked the Science Cafe audience of gardeners, beekeepers and general science fans a series of questions.

Delighting at stumping his listeners, he said 1,600 bee species were attracted to California’s 5,000 flowering plants, drawing a hefty percentage of the United States’ 4,000 total bee species.

“Notice, you are not on their list,” he said. “Bees are vegetarians. They’re not after you or your burgers. Wasps are the ‘meat bees’ after your burgers.”

Generating a local buzz
The University of California Press will publish Gordon Frankie’s findings in a forthcoming book, “Native Bees and Their Flowers in Urban California Gardens.” Bee appreciators who don’t want to wait can find information at http://nature.berkeley.edu/urbanbeegardens/index.html and diablobees.org.

Read full story · Posted in Yay Bees

ARTICLE: California Native Plants that Bees Can’t Resist 
by Bob Sussman – matilijanursery.com 

“In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not.” -Yogi Berra 

There are tons of books, articles on the web, and scientific info. that will tell you what plants attract bees and why. Some info. will tell you to plant flowers that have purple, yellow, or white flowers to draw more bees to the garden. Well some purple flowers attract more than others and bees aren’t supposed to see red yet some red flowering plants attract plenty of bees. Truth is most flowering plants do indeed attract bees since most plants are pollenated by bees. 

In the bee attraction business sometimes theory and practice diverge. Some flowers draw more bees than others and you can see it, those are the ones you want for your garden. You want the flowers that cause the bees to go “beemanic”. Here’s a list of the big “5” bee attractants at the nursery, this may not jibe with scientific theory but in practice it works.
 

Number 5
Abutilon palmeri-a desert native and a member of the mallow family, it gets covered with orange- gold poppy colored flowers. They flower from spring through fall require full sun and are about 3’ x 4’. They seem to benefit for an annual trimming. Check these out.

Number 4 
Galvezia – Island Snapdragon- there are a few species and selections of Galvezia but they all come from either the Channel Islands off the coast of California or Cedros Island off the coast of Mexico. The Galvezia’s vary in size but are roughly 3’x3’, generally grow in semi-shade to full sun, flower from spring through fall. Their red tube flowers also attract hummingbirds. The Galviezia in the picture is Galvezia ‘Gran Canon’ and it flowers than most of the other verities, while they attract several types of bees this is the only one that would sit still long enough for me to focus the camera. 
 

Number 3
Sphaeralcea-Desert Mallows grow throughout the southwest and Mexico. They can range in color from red to light pink. While there is some variation in size, roughly 4’ x 4’ will be a pretty close approximation of what it will do in your garden. We grow mostly the orange flowering verity at the nursery we also have the pink flowering verity growing too and they seem to prefer the pink to the orange.
 

Number 2
Romenya coulteri-Matilija Poppy- The Matilija poppy has the largest flowers of any poppy in the poppy family. It can be a large perennial shrub and its native range is from Monterey County to Baja Mexico growing sporatically about 30+/- inland from the Pacific Ocean. They are spring flowering but with a bit of watering the flowering can be extended through summer.

Number 1
Monardella odoratissima-Mountain Mint-Mountain Beebalm-is a small growing perennial with purple to lavender flowers and a very strong minty fragrance. It’s got to be a big nectar and pollen producer because they attract all kinds of bees and butterflies. In nature they grow from California to Washington and inland as far as Utah. They flower from spring through fall if you occasionally deadhead – chop back the old flowers and leggy growth. 
 

I know there are lots of lists of plants that attract bees but the bees at our nursery fly by many of those to land, collect nectar, and pollen from these. Why? I couldn’t tell you the scientific reason this is only the observation, the bees know and they aren’t saying!

To see the bees performing live you can check out our YouTube page: http://www.youtube.com/user/matilija8225?feature=results_main

Or even better come down to the nursery, pop the truck, and take some of these home for your garden and watch the beeeeeeeeessss!

(For more information go to www.matilijanursery.com)

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NATIVE BEES

1. Macropis nuda.
2. Agapostemon texanus. US sweat bee
3. Peponapis pruinosa. Squash and gourd bees
4. Bombus impatiens. The Impatient Bumble Bee
5. Osmia lignaria. The Blue Orchard Bee
6. Hylaeus sp.
7. Habropoda laboriosa. The Southeastern Blueberry Bee
8. Xylocopa varipuncta. The Valley Carpenter Bee
9. Bombus morrisoni. Morisson’s bumble bee
10. Perdita minima.
11. Xylocopa virginica. Eastern Carpenter Bee
12. Bombus vosnessenskii.
13. Bombus affinis.
14. Megachile sp. Leafcutter bees
15. Andrena cornelli. Miner bees
16. Anthophora centriformis. Digger bees, or anthophorids
17. Nomada sp. The Wandering Cuckoo Bee
18. Augochorella pomoniella. Sweat bees

[click here to read more via pollinator.org]

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[via teetoo] “Bumblebee on a blue lupin in my garden”

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Rarest of Bumblebees Rediscovered: “Cockerell’s Bumblebee”

“The most rare U.S. species of bumblebee, last seen in 1956, has turned up once again in the White Mountains of south-central New Mexico. Called “Cockerell’s Bumblebee,” this prized pollinator is known from an area of less than 300 square miles, giving it the most limited range of any bumblebee species in the world…

Any story about bees surviving in the wild is uplifting news in light of the well-documented decline of bees worldwide. Recently the U.N. reported bee losses of up 85 percent in some areas of the industrialized northern hemisphere, where pesticides, pollution, and parasites may all be to blame.

Cockerell’s Bumblebee, among nearly 50 species of bumblebees native to the U.S., has avoided many of these threats, living on protected national forest and tribal lands. For that reason, it is not especially surprising for an insect species to be rediscovered after decades, when people might otherwise imagine that it may have gone extinct…”

[click here to read the full article on news.discovery.com]

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Beeswax Bottles Candle Set
Recycled Wood Beehouse
Cast Stone Bee Skep

Bee Tumbler

The Beekeeper’s Bible

Honeycomb Stick

Chalkboard Honey Pot

Worker B Treatment Stick

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Bee Basics (from Bug Girl’s Blog)

“A beautiful publication was recently released by the USDA Forest Service and the Pollinator Partnership:
Bee Basics: An Introduction to Our Native Bees by Beatriz Moisset and Stephen Buchmann.

“The full-color 40 page booklet is jam-packed with information about how representative bees of 3,500 species inhabiting the US and bordering areas make a living, which flowers they visit, whether they nest underground or in hollow stems or wood. The diversity of bees is examined along with notes on their wasp ancestry. The lives of leafcutter, mason, bumble bees, miners and others is explored…. Tips for easy things gardeners, home owners and naturalists can do to protect and conserve bees and their flowers are given. “

It is about as nice an introduction to basic bee biology as you could ask for, with the bonus of beautiful artwork.  If you haven’t downloaded your free copy of the PDF, get with the clicking!!”

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California Farmers Plant Bee-Friendly Habitat to Bolster Populations

“Farmers in California and other states have begun planting bee-friendly flowers and shrubs to attract bees, whose populations have been severely declining in recent years under a complex set of circumstances. Farmers hope to sustain native bees and strengthen dwindling honey bee populations as well as lower their pollination costs. For many farmers that rely on bees to pollinate their crops, creating safe bee habitat and reducing chemical assaults can help stem the tide of declining pollinator populations…

California farmers are provided seeds for native plants like wild rose, aster, sage, manzanita, and other shrubs and trees to entice bees… The effort comes as honey bees, maintained by beekeepers, and native, or wild, bees are perishing in great numbers. Bees are essential pollinators of about one-third of the U.S. food supply, and they’re especially important in California, the nation’s top producer of fruits and vegetables. This makes the pollinator problem dire in this state, where large farms often grow single crops that rely on pollination and don’t offer bees a varied diet.

The die-off is blamed on colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which all the adult honey bees in a colony suddenly die. The disorder has destroyed honey bee colonies at a rate of about 30 percent per year since it was recognized in 2006, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Before that, about 15 percent of colonies died per year from a variety of pests and diseases. Researchers aren’t sure what causes the disorder, but they suspect a combination of stressors, including pesticides, mites and parasites, and lack of proper nutrition…

Read Beyond Pesticides’ factsheet: “Backyard Beekeeping” on what you can do to boost pollinator populations…”

[click here to read the full article on enewspf.com]

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