Let's Celebrate National Pollinator Week

Bug Squad By Kathy Keatley Garvey June 14, 2019

A ceramic/mosaic sculpture, “Miss Bee Haven,” anchors the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It is the work of self-described rock artist Donna Billick of Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

A ceramic/mosaic sculpture, “Miss Bee Haven,” anchors the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. It is the work of self-described rock artist Donna Billick of Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Honey Bee Haven.jpg

Did you know that next week is National Pollinator Week?

It is. June 17-21 is the week set aside to celebrate pollinators and how we can protect them.

Actually, National Pollinator Week should be every day.

Launched 12 years ago under U.S. Senate approval,  National Pollinator Week zeroes in on the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles, according to Pollinator Partnership, which manages the national celebration.  (Other pollinators include syrphid or hover flies, mosquitoes, moths, pollen wasps, and ants. Pollination involves the transfer of pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma.)

On the UC Davis campus, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will be a "hive" of activity next week, announced manager Christine Casey, academic program management officer. "We'll be hosting National Pollinator Week events Monday through Friday, June 17 to 21, between 10 a.m. and noon each day." Activities include bee information and identification, solitary bee house making, and catch-and-release bee observation.

The haven volunteers also will sell bee friendly plants and bee houses to support the haven (cash and checks only).

A new event at the haven is hive opening. At 11:45 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, California Master Beekeeper Program volunteers will open the hive in the haven "so visitors may see the girls in action." The haven, installed in the fall of 2009,  is located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. It is open from dawn to dark, free admission.

The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation is planning a free webinar Insect Apocalypse? What Is Really Happening, Why It Matters and How Natural Area Managers Can Help on Tuesday, June 18. The webinar, by Scott Hoffman Black, executive director of the Xerces Society begins at noon, Eastern Time, which is 9 a.m., Pacific Time. 

Black says he will "explain the latest science on insect declines and highlight important ways natural areas managers can incorporate invertebrate conservation into their land management portfolio. Though they are indisputably the most important creatures on earth, invertebrates are in trouble. Recent regional reports and trends in biomonitoring suggest that insects are experiencing a multi continental crisis evident as reductions in abundance, diversity and biomass. Given the centrality of insects to terrestrial and freshwater aquatic ecosystems and the food chain that supports humans, the potential importance of this crisis cannot be overstated. If we hope to stem the losses of insect diversity and the services they provide, society must take steps at all levels to protect, restore and enhance habitat for insects across landscapes, from wildlands to farmlands to urban cores. Protecting and managing existing habitat is an essential step as natural areas can act as reservoirs for invertebrate diversity." Click here for more information and to register.

Happy Pollinator Week! Think the "b" alliteration: bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles. But don't forget the flies, ants, mosquitoes and moths!

Visitors to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven can learn what to plant to attract pollinators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Visitors to the Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven can learn what to plant to attract pollinators. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Protecting Honey Bees and Wild Pollinators From Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides

Beyond Pesticides advocates for widespread adoption of organic management practices as key to protecting pollinators and the environment, and has long sought a broad-scale marketplace transition to organic practices that legally prohibits the use of toxic synthetic pesticides, and encourages a systems-based approach that is protective of health and the environment. Learn more (below) on the role that pesticides play in pollinator decline, and actions you can take to BEE Protective. For information on growing plants to protect pollinators, see our Pollinator-Friendly Seeds and Nursery Directory. Use the Bee Protective Habitat Guide to plant a pollinator garden suited for your region, and consider seeding white clover into your lawn; learn more from Taking a Stand on Clover.

Read more: https://www.beyondpesticides.org/programs/bee-protective-pollinators-and-pesticides/bee-protective

A Former Lawn Sets The Stage For A Wildflower Super Bloom In Woodland Hills

Los Angeles Times (Home & Garden)     By Lisa Boone     May 15, 2018

Andrea Fields' former front lawn is now filled with low water plants, a swale and a plethora of wildflowers. The Woodland Hills homeowner took advantage of the turf removal rebate in 2015 -- and received $15,000 to remove and relandscape her front and back lawns. (Katie Falkenberg)California's super bloom hasn't materialized the way it did last spring, but that hasn't stopped Woodland Hills homeowners Ron Gales and Andrea Fields from enjoying a spectacular wildflower bloom of their own.

Walking up to the house in springtime, it's hard to believe the landscape was "an ugly lawn filled with weeds" when they purchased the home in 2009.

When the drought hit, the couple wanted to save water but was overwhelmed by the prospect of removing more than 6,000-square-feet of turf. When the Metropolitan Water District began offering turf removal rebates in 2015, the couple felt empowered to remove both lawns and start over.

They turned to landscape designer Marilee Kuhlmann of the Santa Monica-based Urban Water Group, who had transformed their neighbor's yard with low-water, low-maintenance plants.

To create the meadow-like gardens, Kuhlmann first removed the lawns, which the couple had stopped watering. She then transformed the blank canvas with permeable pathways made from broken concrete to allow visitors to experience the garden firsthand — woolly grevillea, sun-loving purple celosia intenz, flowering desert willow and rock roses, prickly yucca and fragrant calamint and Russian sage, among others. With water conservation in mind, she also installed a drip irrigation system, added mulch to retain moisture and swales and rain barrels to collect rainwater.

Lupine and California poppies bloom in Woodland Hills. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)Three years ago, Fields broadcast several packs of wildflowers, including California poppy, lupine and clarkia, in the gardens. From then on, the gardens have been inhabited with brightly colored wildflowers year-round, especially in the spring.

"We wanted color," Fields says of the makeover. "We wanted it to look natural. We like the wild look."

And while Fields admits that wildflower cleanup can be labor-intensive, she isn't complaining.

"The backyard looks so amazing from our kitchen," she says of the project which cost $15,000 after a turf removal rebate of $15,000. "It's just spectacular. We sit and have dinner and look out over the backyard, and it makes us feel like we are living in a beautiful forest."

The backyard, which was formerly a lawn, in bloom. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

A partial list of plants used in the Gales-Fields gardens:

Acacia farnesiana, or 'Sierra Sweet'
Aloe 'Fairy Pink'
Arctotis 'Pumpkin Pie'
Celosia intenz and argentea
Cercis canadensis, or 'Forest Pansy'
Chilopsis linearis, or 'Lucretia Hamilton'
Cistanthe grandiflora, or 'Jazz Time'
Cistus x pulverulentus, or 'Sunset'
Dasylirion wheeleri
Eremophila racemose
Fuchsia thymifolia
Grevillea 'Bonfire,' 'Moonlight' and grevillea paniculata
Hakea nodosa
Helictotrichon semp., or 'Sapphire'
Hesperaloe parviflora, 'Breaklights;' parviflora yellow, 'Pink Parade'
Juncus phaeocephalus
Lavandula 'Regal Splendor'
Leucadendron 'Red Eye,' Leucadendron salignum, 'Silvan Red,'
Maytenus phyllanthoides
Melampodium leucanthum
Myoporum montanum
Penstemon 'Garnet,' Penstemon ambiguus, 'Shadow Mountain'
Perovskia atriplicifolia 'Little Spire,'
Pimelea 'Snow Clouds'
Prosopis 'Hybrid Phoenix'
Rhamnus californica 'Mound San Bruno'
Rudbeckia 'Black Eyed Susan'
Salvia chamaedryoides, Salvia greggii 'Red,' 
Salvia greggii 'Sierra Linda,' Salvia guarantica 'Black & Blue'
Santolina neapolitana 'Lemon Queen'
Verbena rigida

Show us your garden makeover

We're highlighting yards and gardens that go from heavy water users to thrifty water sippers. If you've given your yard a drought-tolerant makeover, send "before" and "after" pictures to home@latimes.com. We may include your yard in an upcoming Saturday section.


Twitter: @lisaboone19

For an easy way to follow the L.A. scene, bookmark L.A. at Home and join us on our Facebook page for home and garden design, InstagramTwitter and Pinterest.


A Pasadena garden mixes fresh and modern design with a rustic style

Before & After: A massive front lawn is transformed into an inviting, low-water landscape

Photos: Ready to scratch the grass? Here are 27 inspiring lawn-free yards


10 Garden Ideas to Steal from Superstar Dutch Designer Piet Oudolf

Gardenista     By Michelle Slatalla     April 7, 2018

If the world of gardening has rock stars, Piet Oudolf qualifies as Mick Jagger, David Bowie, and Prince rolled into one. The Dutch landscape designer—whose work is instantly recognizable for its dreamy romanticism and oft-copied for its emphasis on sustainable, sensible plantings—makes it look so easy. But is it?

We’ve dog-eared Oudolf’s books. Hummelo and Planting: A New Perspective are our two gardening bibles (and we quote from both below). Reading them, you learn that signature Oudolf style calls for drifts of grasses, perfectly appropriate perennials, and garden beds that look beautiful even in the depths of winter. Here are 10 of Piet Oudolf’s best ideas to steal for your own garden.

Continue reading at: https://www.gardenista.com/posts/10-garden-ideas-to-steal-from-superstar-dutch-designer-piet-oudolf/

Photography via Hummelo, courtesy of The Monacelli Press.

Using Science to Design a Bee Garden: Color and What Bees See

The Bee Gardener    By Christine Casey    March 26, 2018

Bee gardening news and education from the UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven

Spring is here, and planting is underway in bee gardens throughout California. And planting, especially if you're creating a new garden, means you are thinking about design. In this series of posts I will cover various aspects of garden design -- such as color, texture, shape, and size -- from the perspective of what bees need. Based on research, this information should provide a solid foundation for a successful bee garden.

This post will focus on color. An understanding of color theory is helpful in creating an aesthetically pleasing garden for us, but color is also relevant for bees. All color wheel screen shots shown here are from the Adobe web page

1. Complementary colors. Colors opposite each other on the color wheel are complementary; this is one of the easiest ways to select colors. Using opposite colors together makes each color appear more vibrant.

Complementary colors are those that are opposite each other on the color wheel.

Red and green are complementary colors. Note how the red flowers are accentuated against the green of the foliage in this photo of 'Royal Bumble' sage.

Purple and yellow are excellent complementary colors for a bee garden

2. Analogous colors. Colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel are analogous; using these colors can be a bit trickier, especially with hot colors like oranges and reds. One way to combine these effectively is to mix in white, as is done here with white gaura in this planting of the analogous colors pink (echinacea) and purple (tall verbena).

Analogous colors are those that are next to each other on the color wheel

Analogous colors can be softened with white flowers

3. Shades of one color. This is the easiest combination to pull off. Cool colors (blues and purples) tend to create a calming effect and make the garden appear larger, while warm colors (reds and yellows) create energy and make the garden appear smaller. Here is an example of shades of a cool color (purple) used in the Haven: 

Shades of one color can also create an effective garden color scheme

Shades of purple in the Honey Bee Haven

So how do we meld this with bee biology? Here are some pointers:

1. Bees see color differently than we do. They don't see red at all, and see purple very well....there's a reason we have so many purple flowers in the Haven. Here's an example: the first photo shows a flannel bush flower in daylight, while the second shows it under ultraviolet (UV) light, which is the light spectrum where bees see. The 'invisible' nectar (to us) is a bright blue beacon to bees under UV light.

Flannel bush flower as we see it

Flannel bush flower as bees see it

But, you might be thinking, I see bees on red flowers all the time! Well bees can use more than color to find a flower, which brings us to scent....I'll discuss this in a future post. 

2. Does color pattern in the garden matter to bees? One study (Proc. R. Soc. London B. 2003. 270: 569-575) found that honey bee foraging distance was longer in simple landscapes; this makes sense because honey bees do best with a varied diet and need to travel further to find a mix of flowers in a simple landscape. Conversely, waggle dance activity was greater in complex landscapes because the patches of plants were more variable -- high quality and low quality plants were mixed together. So it's also important to ensure a good mix of high-quality bee plants in appropriately-sized patches.

3. Another aspect of flower color often not considered is patterns on the flowers themselves. Called nectar guides, these serve to guide bees into the nectary. Of course they pick up and deposit pollen as they do this, thereby pollinating the flower.

Spotted nectar guides in the center of Texas ranger flowers

For lots more detail about how bees see, check out this article. My next post will cover shape, size, scent, and texture. I'll finish with suggested plant lists and planting plans. Here's to your successful bee garden!


Wildflower Garden Mega Time Lapse - 9 Full Months

The Pollinator Partnership  Jim Burnham published to YouTube March 17, 2018

Jim Burnham created this nine-month time lapse of a huge wildflower garden in Washington, IL. It is a designated Monarch Waystation and part of the Illinois Buffer partnership to improve pollinator habitat. Check out the Pollinator Partnership quotes at the end! Nine months and 148,000 plus photos compressed into a spectacular time lapse showing a wildflower garden from early Spring to Winter.  (Original music composition "Spring" by Simeon Amburgey) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CrRSfRfy78w&t=304s

Winter Pruning in the Bee Garden

The Bee Gardener    By Christine Casey     February 8, 2018

The Haven volunteers and I are busy doing winter pruning. I'm often asked about pruning by garden visitors: what to prune, when to do it, and how much to cut back. We prune most of our plants fairly hard to stimulate as much new growth as possible since new growth often produces more flowers. After all, making flowers to feed the bees is what we're all about!

We perform this task every year in late January and into early February. We delay pruning until then to provide forage and cover for the many birds that use the Haven and to ensure that any frost damage is confined to the outer part of the plant. Here's how we prune different types of plants at the Haven.

Herbaceous perennials

These plants are typically cut back to the base, although in the case of plants like milkweed that are late to re-sprout, it can be helpful to leave visible stems so you'll remember where the plant is located. Some examples from the Haven:

The first photo shows calamint, Calamintha nepetoides, just before pruning. You can clearly see last year's dead flower stalks with this year's new growth at the base. Cut the old stalk down to the top of the new growth.

The next picture is sedum 'Autumn Joy', Hylotelephium 'Autumn Joy' just after pruning. Isn't the new growth cute? It looks like tiny heads of lettuce! I prune this plant earlier -- in late fall or early winter -- as the hollow stems make great overwintering sites for beneficial insects like ladybird beetles.

The final example is 'Walker's Low' catmint, Nepeta x faassenii 'Walker's Low'. No need to be gentle with this plant; we prune ours with electric hedge trimmers. The photos show the same patch of plants before and after pruning.  

Calamint before pruning. Note the new growth at the base of the plant.

continue reading: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=26190.

NOTE: This is a really good article on gardening for bees.

Scientists Discover Optical Illusion Some Flowers Use to Attract Bees

Inquisitr/Discoveries     By Lorenzo Tanos     October 21, 2017

New research suggests that there are certain flowers that attract bees with a rather unusual optical illusion that’s visible to the insects, but not to human observers in most cases.

Typically, gardeners attract bumblebees by planting blue flowers such as hydrangeas and delphiniums, as noted on a report from the Daily Mail. These flowers are high in nectar and are easily capable of attracting bees on their own. But the new discovery points to something different altogether — flowers luring the insects with microscopic ridges found on their petals. These ridges spread out a “blue halo” of light, creating an “aura” that could also be used as a bee signal.

“The exciting thing is that it is a new optical trick – we didn’t know that flowers could use disorder to generate a specific color, and that is quite clever,” said study co-author Beverley Glover, from the University of Cambridge in England.

The Guardian wrote that the discovery of how flowers attract bees via optical effects builds on previous research from Glover and her colleagues, who had found that the small ridges on the petals of select flowers are capable of bending light — a phenomenon known as diffracting. Having discovered some plants that could diffract, the researchers examined the petals of 12 different flower species to see if the phenomenon also occurred in them. Using artificial flowers with and without blue halos and testing them on bees, the researchers later found that the bees tended to go to the flowers with halos, while also using the blue hue to inform them which of the artificial flowers came with a sugar solution reward.

Based on their findings, Glover’s team found that each of the flowers’ ridges had their own unique architecture, with the heights and spacings of the ridges tending to vary in particular. And while it was found that all 12 flowers only gave off a weak sheen, the researchers discovered that the ridges were also capable of dispersing blue and ultraviolet light. With that established, the flowers were revealed to have a “blue halo” effect, one that can only be seen by people in darkly-pigmented flowers, and one that differed based on the ridges’ degree of variation in height or spacing.

Humans can’t see the blue hue emitted by the evening primrose’s petal ridges, but bees can. [Image by High Mountain/Shutterstock]The Daily Mail further noted that flowers that attract bees with the blue halo have been around for millions of years. Fossils of flowering plants, or angiosperms, from over 200 million years ago did not yield any proof of petal ridges capable of such optical illusions. But there were “several” examples of blue halo-generating ridges found in examples from two flower groups that had first appeared about 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period. These flowers reportedly existed just as bees and other “flower-visiting insects” were beginning to evolve.

“Our findings suggest the petal ridges that produce ‘blue halos’ evolved many times across different flower lineages, all converging on this optical signal for pollinators,” said Glover.

According to the Daily Mail, the Venice Mallow (Hibiscus trionum), Queen of the Night tulips, a species of daisy (Ursinia speciosa), and a species of evening primrose (Oenothera stricta) are among the examples of blue halo-emitting flowers that attract bees.

[Featured Image by Lucia Speck/Shutterstock]


Happy National Honey Bee Day - August 19, 2017

The Bee Gardener    By Christine Casey   August 18, 2017

This Saturday, August 19, 2017, is National Honey Bee Day. This commemoration was created by Pennsylvania beekeepers to recognize the beekeeping industry, honey bees, and the role they play in our food supply. Let's take this opportunity to honor the hard-working honey bees (they pollinate about 85% of bee-pollinated crops in the US, which is worth billions of dollars annually).

To keep honey bees healthy, access to ample, nutritious forage, i.e. flowers, is essential. It's important to provide year-round bloom and to include both pollen and nectar sources. The Haven's web page includes the information you need to develop this in your own garden...

Continue reading: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24934

EPA Honors Fifth-Grader from Everett, Washington for Protecting Bees and Other Pollinators

Environmental Protection Agency News Releases from Region 10   June 14, 2017

St. Mary Magdalen School 5th grader Elizabeth Sajan’s project “Bee Happy We Happy” helps protect bees and other pollinators and encourages her Everett, Washington community to promote bee health by planting bee-friendly flowers, keeping “weeds,” becoming a beekeeper, reducing pesticide use, and including water sources in a garden. Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recognized Elizabeth Sajan, a 5th grade student at St. Mary Magdalen School in Everett, Washington, for her outstanding work to promote and protect bees and other pollinators in her local community. Elizabeth’s project is among 15 student projects from 13 states to receive the 2016 President’s Environmental Youth Award for their environmental education and stewardship achievements.  EPA presented the award at a ceremony today at St. Mary Magdalen School.

“Today, we are pleased to honor these impressive young leaders, who demonstrate the impact that a few individuals can make to protect our environment,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “These students are empowering their peers, educating their communities, and demonstrating the STEM skills needed for this country to thrive in the global economy.”

As part of the 5th grade science curriculum, Elizabeth learned about pollination and the importance of bees. The topic struck her curiosity and after encouragement from her teacher, Elizabeth embarked on an independent project to educate herself and her community about bee health and beekeeping.

“I am so proud of Elizabeth for taking a topic we were learning about in class and transforming this topic into a passion,” said Julie Tyndall, Fifth Grade Teacher at St. Mary Magdalen School. “She educated the community about the importance of bees as pollinators, how it will affect our lives if bees disappear, and what we can do to help bees thrive in our communities.” 

During her project “Bee Happy We Happy,” Elizabeth did extensive research including reviewing articles, Washington State University Extension videos on pollination and pollinator protection, a TED talk, visiting a local nursery to understand cultivation, and reaching out to organizations and scientists as direct sources. Her research included sources such as the community horticulture wing of the department of pest management of Washington State University Extension, a chemical engineer in Oregon, and a biotechnologist in pharmaceuticals, which helped her to understand chemicals being used in modern agriculture and managing balanced biodiversity. 

Following her research, to engage her community, Elizabeth created an awareness flier, and set out to distribute it across her school and community. Elizabeth shared actions that her community members could take to promote bee health, such as planting bee-friendly flowers, keeping “weeds,” becoming a beekeeper, reducing pesticide use, and including water sources in a garden. She presented to her classmates and principal, and provided fliers to homeroom teachers to discuss with their science classes. At her local grocery, she engaged customers at the door by giving out her flier and discussing her concerns about bee health and how individuals could make a difference in protecting pollinators. Elizabeth plans to continue to get the message out to her family, friends and community to develop more “bee helpers” in her community. 

President’s Environmental Youth Awards information:  https://www.epa.gov/education/presidents-environmental-youth-award


Kate Frey: How to Attract Pollinators

Bug Squad: Happenings in the Insect World   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    June 22, 2017

Pollinator enthusiasts Kate Frey (left) and Annie Hayes, owner of Annie's Annuals and Perennials, receive applause at the bee gardening presentation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

It's National Pollinator Week and you might be wondering where your pollinators are. 

“I'd love to attract honey bees, bumble bees and other pollinators, but what can I do?" you ask. "Where do I start?"

So we asked world-class garden designer Kate Frey of Hopland, a two-time gold medal winner at the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in London, co-founder of the American Garden School, and co-author of The Bee-Friendly Garden (with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University) for her advice.

Few people are as passionate about pollinators and pollinator gardens as Kate Frey.

We heard her speak at the Native Bees Workshop last September at the Hopland Research and Extension Center, Mendocino County, and we tagged along on her guided tour of her one-acre spectacular garden at her Hopland home, where she and husband Ben and assorted pets reside. We also heard her speak on "Gardening for Bees, Beauty and Diversity" May 14 at Annie's Annuals and Perennials, Richmond.

Kate is highly sought as a speaker, whether it be at sustainable landscape programs,  gardening seminars,  or at UC workshops. Among her affiliates: University of California entomologists Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor at UC Davis, and Professor Gordon Frankie of UC Berkeley. (Read what Frankie has to say about native bees.)

So, what to do first? Kate offers these tips:

Create healthy gardens that require no pesticides by using the right plant, right place approach, add quality compost to all plants and irrigate adequately. 

Choose appropriate plants for your water, soils, exposure, climate, and if annuals, season!

Think in terms of abundance, not minimalism. Plant at least a 3-x-3 foot area of each plant, or repeat the same plant throughout your garden. Each honey bee colony needs an estimated one-acre of flowers to support it.

Goal: 12 months of bloom. Plants can be annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees.

Make sure plants do offer floral resources, as many landscape plants don't.

Have patches or repeated plants of the same flower.  Honey bees practice floral constancy.

Include water for honey bees

Sunny spaces are the best.

Provide bee-block nests and mulch-free nest sites for native bees.

All great advice! Indeed, we should think of pollinators as not mere "visitors," but permanent residents. Plant what they like and they will come. To ensure that they will stay stay, leave soil bare for ground-nesting bees, such as bumble bees. And don't forget those bee-block nests, or bee condos, for leafcutter bees and blue orchard bees.

A honey bee forages on the California golden poppy, the state flower. It yields no nectar, only pollen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)But what to plant to attract pollinators?  These are Kate Frey's top 14 favorites "which are long blooming and easy to grow":

Asclepias milkweeds, all

Asters, Aster x frikartii 'Monch' A. ericoides ‘Monte Casino', A. laterifolius Lady in Black' 

Agastache, ‘Black Adder' ‘'Purple Haze' Rosy Giant' ‘Tutti Frutti' and many more

Arbutus unedo, Strawberry tree

Arctostaphylos, most Manzanita

Calamentha nepetoides, Calamentha

Ceanothus, all California lilac

Epilobium, California fuchsia. There are many good cultivars

Eriogonum fasciculatum, California buckwheat

Gaillardia, Blanket flower

Helianthus bolanderi, native shrubby sunflower

Monardella villosa,  Coyote mint

Nepeta faassenii, all nepetas,  Catmint

Origanum,  flowering oregano, all. Origanum 'Santa Cruz' and 'Bristol Cross' are good.

 "Bee gardens make people happy," Kate Frey and Gretchen LeBuhn write in their book. "Whether you enjoy a brilliant chorus of saturated color, a tranquil sanctuary from the busy world, or a hardworking edible garden, there is a glorious, flower-filled bee garden waiting for you."

Yes, we all need a happy place. And so, too, do the pollinators.

Award-winning garden designer, author and pollinator specialist Kate Frey addresses a recent crowd at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials. Her topic: “Gardening for Bees, Beauty and Diversity.” (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Following her talk at Annie’s Annuals and Perennials, Richmond, Kate Frey (center) answers questions and signs copies of her book, “A Bee Friendly Garden,” (co-authored with Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)Read and view more photos: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24474

Grassroots Gardening: 21 Flowers That Attract Bees

Honeybee Conservancy 

With US bees dying at an unprecedented rate, are you doing your part in bolstering the bee population? Beekeeping is a wonderful way to support bees, but it’s not the only thing you can do. Planting flowers that attract bees will provide much needed food for pollinators near you, and can require as little space as a windowsill.

From herbs and ornamentals to hardy winter bloomers, bees benefit from a plethora of plants. This list is by no means comprehensive, but we hope it will help you get ideas for your gardening space. If you have any doubts about whether your land or climate is suitable for any of these plants, you may want to reference your USDA hardiness zone or consult with your local gardening center.

Siberian Squill. Rosendahl, Wikimedia Commons.

Dos and Don’ts

Do: diversify and maximize blooms

To help bees make the most out of their active months, it’s ideal to have plants that bloom at different times across the seasons. Early spring and late autumn blooms will be especially helpful for early foragers or bees going for their last harvest before hunkering down for the winter. It is also ideal to have a variety of flower shapes – from flat to tubular – to accommodate bees with different tongue sizes. Be sure to prolong your plants’ blooms by removing dead blooms and leaves.

If you have a grass lawn, consider replacing it with colorful pollinator plants to make better use of your space and save water. You can also make a compromise by allowing your lawn to share space with flowers that attract bees, such as dandelions, clovers or siberian squill (more on squills below).

Don’t: plant treated or hybridized plants

It is extremely important to avoid using any insecticides, herbicides, or pesticides on your plants – even organic ones contain substances that are harmful to bees. Pesticides contain neonicotinoids, chemicals that are a known danger to bees. If we’re going to do our part in helping the declining population of bees, we must be adamant about keeping our gardens chemical-free. When purchasing plants from nurseries, make sure they haven’t been treated. Also, avoid hybridized plant varieties, as they are often less beneficial for bees (more info on this here).


Flowers that Attract Bees



USDA zones 4 – 8. Full sun. Blooms early Spring – Fall.

Whimsy, joy, colors – pansies have it all, and bees love them. They are great for containers or ground cover, but are often treated as annuals because of their ability to spread quickly. Bred from their predecessor the wild pansy, the many types of pansies can bloom in early spring or later in autumn.

North American pussy willow © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden

North American pussy willow © 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s EdenPussy Willow (right)

USDA zones 4 – 7. Full to partial sun. Blooms early Spring.

These North American wetland shrubs have a beautiful greyish hue and fur-like blooms. Their blooms mark the arrival of spring, making them a perfect treat for early foraging bees. Humans may also enjoy using their dried stems as decorations.

Siberian Squill

USDA zones 2 – 8. Full to partial sun. Blooms early Spring.

These beautiful blue blooms have a stunning presence that you can enjoy for a few weeks each year. If you have a grass lawn, you can make the most of your space by planting Siberian Squill bulbs throughout it. Their colors will make your lawn pop in early spring, and the plants will recede just in time to let you start mowing in late spring. Just make sure they have good drainage to prevent bulb rot, and be cautious about their ability to spread quickly.


USDA zones 3 – 9. Full to partial sun. Blooms late Winter, early Spring.

Snowdrops are known to announce their arrival by poking out of the snow. They are great for climates with mild to cold winters. Just keep in mind that the flowers will be dormant by summertime, so the soil in which the bulbs rest will be barren.



USDA zones 2 – 8. Full to partial sun. Blooms in Spring.

With their colors and sweet scents, these flowers will attract bees, hummingbirds, and possibly your neighbors too. Peonies benefit from cold winters to aid their bud formation. Try to place them in loamy soil in a spot protected from wind.

Flowers that attract bees: Milkweed ⓒMichaela at The Gardener’s Eden

Milkweed (left)

USDA zones 4 – 10. Prefers sun. Blooms Spring – Fall, depending on variety.

Milkweed not only serves as food to bees, but it is also the only host to monarch butterflies. These plants are great food sources for bees, but beware of their complex flower structures, for bees can get trapped or lose a leg in them. Many varieties are drought-resistant and prefer sun (browse varieties here).

Bee Balm

USDA zones 4 – 9. Full to partial sun, but shade tolerant. Blooms Summer.

As you may guess from the name, bees love these North American prairie flowers. The blooms almost resemble little fireworks, and come in befittingly vibrant shades too. Favoring warm climates, you can enjoy these perennials’ lush, colorful blooms year after year, and so will bees and other winged things.


USDA zones 5 – 9. Full to partial sun. Blooms Spring, Summer.

Bees love them for their nectar, humans love them for their scent and flavor. Everyone wins, and with many different varieties of lavender to choose from, you’ll likely find one that will settle happily in your garden. The plant can do well in many climates, but prefers warm climates and well-drained soil. It is rather drought resistant once established. (Read about the different varieties’ climate preferences and bloom times here)

Woodland phlox. ⓒMichaela at The Gardener’s EdenPhlox (right)

USDA zones 2 – 9. Full to partial sun. Blooms Spring, Summer.

With their star-shaped blooms, these plants are a beautiful addition to any garden, and can make a great ground cover. There are several different varieties, including the wild ground phlox. This variety bears its pink blooms in early spring, which is the reason Native Americans dubbed the April full moon the “Full Pink Moon.”


Annual. Full sun. Blooms Summer.

Zinnias come in many colors and will attract both bees and butterflies to your space. They are relatively easy to plant and will bloom in abundance all summer long if dead flowers are removed.


Annual. Full sun. Blooms Summer.

Like zinnias, marigolds are annuals that can bloom all summer long if properly groomed. Their edible blooms can brighten up your salads as well as your garden, and they are even known to repel pests and animals, such as nematodes.


USDA zones 2 – 8. Full to partial sun. Blooms in Summer.

These flowers are sometimes considered weeds because of their ability to spread easily, but kept in check, they are an invaluable resource for bees and have medicinal value as well. To keep their spread in check, just cut off the dead flower heads before they re-seed.

Flowers that attract bees: Chives. ⓒMichaela at The Gardener’s Eden.Chives (right)

USDA zones 3 – 10. Full sun. Blooms late Spring, Summer.

Resist eating their tasty purple flowers and the bees will thank you! This perennial tolerates cold climates rather well, and is a great way to add a fresh, oniony taste to salads, dishes, or eggs.



USDA zones 5 – 9. Full to partial sun. Blooms late Summer.

These flowers, found in purple, pink, and white, bloom on grass-like spiky leaves that can grow 1 – 5 feet tall. They are relatively low maintenance, and are rather tolerant of drought, pests, and cold weather. Butterflies will also thank you for having liatris in your garden.


USDA zones 3 – 10. Full sun, but tolerates some shade. Blooms Spring through Summer.

Mint is invigorating with its fragrance and flavor – and bees go crazy on their flowers too. Mint is a great choice if you’re looking for an herb that’s low maintenance. They make good ground cover and a tasty kitchen ingredient. Easy to grow, but easy to lose control of too, so be careful about their spread.


USDA zones 5 – 9. Full sun. Blooms Spring, Summer, Fall.

It’s great in stuffing, sauces, and herb pots! Bees love sage’s beautiful flowers, and these perennials are rather easy to grow. Of all the flowers that attract bees, make sure to incorporate this one into your autumn squash dishes.

Chair with Nasturium. ⓒMichaela at The Gardener’s EdenNasturtium (left)

USDA zone 9 – 11. Full sun. Blooms Summer through Fall.

Nasturtiums can keep bees buzzing in your garden well into autumn. Their edible blooms will bring a burst of color to your outdoor space. To maximize the amount of blooms they have, water them regularly and opt for poorer soils. Most nasturtiums are annuals, but some varieties are perennials in zones 9 – 11.

Black-eyed Susans

USDA zones 3 – 9. Full to partial sun. Blooms late Summer, Fall.

These are flowers that attract bees, butterflies, and bring a burst of yellow to your garden. As members of the sunflower family, they can grow up to three feet tall! They make excellent borders, but spread very easily, so be careful about placing them in – or letting them grow into – other plants’ space.


Full to partial sun. Blooms Summer, Fall.

Also known as starflower, borage’s star-shaped blooms start out pink and mature into a beautiful blue. Borage is considered a good neighbor for tomatoes, which bees also love. These plants are annuals, but they re-seed readily, so keep an eye on their spread.


USDA zones 5 – 9. Full sun. Blooms Summer, Fall.

Irresistable to bees and pun-lovers alike, placing one of these shrubs by a walkway will prove to be a wonderful way to pass the thyme. These perennials bear bee-loving flowers in pink or purple, and can grow up to one foot tall.


Full sun. Blooms mid-Summer, Fall.

This perennial has pink, purple, or white flowers, and its late blooms will be appreciated by your bee friends. Oregano provides excellent ground cover and is rather hardy. Harvest its leaves for cooking or medicinal purposes. Drying them will help you make use of its reported immune-boosting properties throughout winter.  

Plant for Bees, Plant for Change

They say flowers that attract bees also bring good tidings for the gardener. Okay, maybe they don’t say that, but there’s something undoubtedly powerful about planting pollinator blooms. The art of gardening is not only a form of relaxation, but also of creating change. With every haven we create for bees, we make clear our stance on their importance, we designate ourselves as their allies, and we become leaders in the movement to create a world that is nourishing to the very creatures that nourish us too. Gardening is no longer a hobby – it is a grassroots movement.

Want to learn more about flowers that attract bees?

Check out these great resources:
Fall Blooming Plants for Bees – Overall Gardener
Planting a Bee Garden – Beverly Bees
Bees and Other Pollinators Love These Flowering Plants – Resilience
5 Early Season Plants Which Attract Pollinators to your Garden – Eartheasy Blog
Siberian Squill – Wisconsin Horticulture
Pussy Willow – The Honeybee Conservancy
Goldenrod – Landscaping.About
Gardening Know-how


Poppy Day Spring Plant Sale is Saturday, March 18, 2017

Theodore Payne Foundation

POPPY DAY SPRING PLANT SALE is tomorrow: MARCH 18, 2017! Special sale items include Trichostema lanatum (woolly blue curls), Dendromecon harfordii (Channel Islands bush poppy), Romneya coulteri (Matilija poppy) and more sought-after native beauties. Quantities are limited! Shop early for best selection.
Discounts to TPF members all day and discounts to non-members after 11:00am (Not yet a member?
Join at the door!), Before you come, see our online nursery inventory:
#CANativePlants #TheodorePayne 
#NativePlantSale #Sustainable#HabitatGardening

These Winter Blooming Plants Give Bees a Boost

The Orgonian   By Kim Pokorny    January 15, 2017

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Bees and other pollinators out and about during the dark days of winter look to gardeners for the nourishment that keeps them going until the more abundant seasons of the year arrive.

"Black-tailed bumblebees are out as early as January," said Andony Melathopoulos, a bee specialist with Oregon State University Extension Service. "Native bees are just starting and will be seen more often later in February when the wild willow starts blooming."

Though there are winter-flowering plants growing in the wild, many pollinators don't live anywhere near them. That makes using cultivated winter bloomers an important consideration when planning a garden.

"Even a small amount of habitat will sustain bees, even rare species," Melanthopoulos said. "These are tiny creatures. Well-thought-out landscapes can provide all the food they need in winter. Gardeners can really help with that."

Granted, there aren't that many plants that flower in winter, but what's out there adds much-needed brightness to the garden and sustenance for pollinators. Melathopoulos suggested the following winter-blooming plants.

Brassicas (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard): If left to bloom into winter (which they will), your brassica crops will attract a bevy of bees.

Hazelnut (Corylus): Members of the Corylus genus - including the popular contorted and weeping hazelnuts - are one of earliest sources of pollen for bees.

Oregon grape (Mahonia): No garden - or bee - should be without one of these evergreen shrubs, especially since it's designated Oregon's state flower. But an even better reason are the insanely yellow flowers that last for weeks.

Heath and heather (Erica and Calluna): Bees zoom in to heaths and heathers like they're approaching a runway. In shades from purple to copper to gold, these low-growing plants make a mat of color throughout the year, including winter.

Winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflora): Though it doesn't have the fragrance of other jasmines, this vining shrub has bright yellow flowers that are a welcome sight in winter.

Burkwood viburnum (Viburnum x burkwoodii): The burke Viburnum is best known for the clusters of fragrant white blooms that bees find irresistible.

Sweet box (Sarcococcus confusa): It's not the inconspicuous wispy white flowers that draw attention in deepest winter, it's the waft of fragrance that attracts both people and bees.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis): Bees get fired up over witch hazel with its crepe-paperlike flowers in colors of orange, red and, most famously, yellow.


Help Bees By Restoring Natural Landscapes, Roadside Planting, Green Belts, Green Roofs and Urban Gardening Initiatives

CATCH THE BUZZ    By Billy Hicks    January 16, 2017

Robbin Thorp, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology, discusses the different varieties of bees at Rush Ranch, recently. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)SUISUN CITY — As a county with an economy strongly tied to agriculture, Solano County should care greatly about the health and well-being of bees.

Educating local residents on ways to improve local living conditions for bee populations was the aim of a highly popular program being hosted by Solano Land Trust at Rush Ranch, recently.

The program, moderated by University of California, Davis Professor Emeritus Robbin Thorp, helped define exactly what bees are and aren’t, identified some different varieties and ways to help support those bee populations.

Related to wasps, which are carnivorous, Thorp said that bees, “are simply wasps that have gone vegan,” relying on pollen and nectar as a food source.

Another key difference is that bees, unlike wasps, not only collect pollen but are adapted to do so efficiently. Bees have branched hairs on their bodies, which wasps do not, aiding in their capacity to carry pollen. Likewise, bees generate an electrostatic charge when they fly, helping pollen cling to them.

The most surprising fact for many was the wide variety of bee species. Most people likely associate bees with the creatures that make honey, but there are between 20,000 to 30,000 bee species in North America, which is more than the total number of species of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians combined.

About 1,600 varieties of bees live in California, and 300 of those call the Solano/Yolo county areas home. Not all of those types live in hives, create honey or live as part of a social group, Thorp said.

Many build nests in the soil or wood. Those living in wood seal off some of these chambers with a slurry made from wood particles.

“Bees invented particle board a long time before people did,” Thorp said.

Even in hot climate conditions, bees have proven to be highly adaptive. Some bee varieties will collect water, deliver it to a hive or nest then fan the water with their wings, Thorp said.

“They came up with the idea for a swamp cooler a long time ago,” he joked.

There are a number of environmental stresses on bee populations, not all of which are manmade. Thorp said there are a number of manmade solutions that can benefit bees – and thus, local agriculture. Among those were the restoration of landscapes, roadside planting, green belts, green roofs and urban gardening initiatives.

More information about steps to help encourage bee populations to thrive locally is available at www.helpabee.org.


The Plants the Help Monarchs Also Help Honey Bees

CATCH THE BUZZ  By Candace Fallon   December 15, 2016

Candace Fallon
Senior Conservation Biologist
Endangered Species Program

Monarchs are in decline across North America. With milkweed loss in the east identified as a major contributing factor to this decline, the national call to action has understandably focused primarily on planting milkweeds, which are the required host plants for monarch caterpillars, and a favorite for honey bees, too. Yet while restoring the millions of milkweed plants that have been lost is certainly an important strategy, monarchs need more than milkweed to support them throughout the year. Adult monarchs need nectar to fuel them during spring migration and breeding and to build up stores of fat which sustain them during fall migration and winter.

There are many sources of information about which species of native milkweeds are best for your region, but information on which nectar plants are best for monarchs has not been available for large areas of the U.S. Working with the Monarch Joint Venture and the National Wildlife Federation, the Xerces Society has created a series of nectar plant lists for the continental U.S. based on a database of nearly 24,000 monarch nectaring observations. Each of the 15 regional guides highlights species that are commercially available, are native to and widely found in the region, and are known to be hardy or relatively easy to grow in a garden setting.

Read more about this project at http://www.xerces.org/blog/to-save-monarchs-we-need-more-than-just-milkweed/  or find a nectar plant guide for your region herehttp://www.xerces.org/monarch-nectar-plants/

These plant lists are works-in-progress and benefit from your help. You can submit additional monarch nectaring observations via our online survey. We are grateful to the many different researchers and monarch enthusiasts across the country who have already contributed to our database – thank you! 

Bee Friendly, Bee Happy and Bee Healthy!

Bug Squad     By Kathy Keatley Garvey    June 9, 2016

Sometimes when you walk through a bee garden, you feel Mother Nature tugging at your arm, pulling you from one breathtaking area to another. You resist the tug and want to linger, to admire the diversity of bees, to marvel at the colors and patterns of the flowers.

That's how we felt when we recently visited the one-acre pollinator bee garden of Kate Frey and her artist husband, Ben, in Hopland, Mendocino County. It's magical.

Kate, a world-class garden designer, and bee expert Gretchen LeBuhn, professor in the San Francisco State University, have just co-authored The Bee-Friendly Garden, an educational, enthusiastic and inspiring book that will help you turn your own garden--large or small, rural or urban--into something magical.

Read more: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=21258&sharing=yes

Bee Trees For Warm Climates

CATCH THE BUZZ   By Connie Krochmal    May 31, 2016

Beekeepers in warm climates can choose from a number of bee trees. Choices include the native red bay and the common banana as well as flowering trees, such as Chinese hibiscus. These plants are great sources of nectar and pollen for bees.

Banana (Musa sapientum or Musa x paradisiaca)
About 40 species of banana are grown for food or as ornamentals. They apparently originated in tropical Asia.

Hardiness varies according to the species. Some ornamental types are...

Continue reading: http://www.beeculture.com/bee-trees-for-warm-climates/#.V03D2DqJzq8.facebook

Pollinator-Friendly Plant Lists

Xerces Society    

United States: Recommended native plants that are highly attractive to pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, butterflies, moths, and hummingbirds, and are well-suited for small-scale plantings in gardens, on business and school campuses, in urban greenspaces, and in farm field borders.

Plant lists are available to download below in PDF format at: http://www.xerces.org/pollinator-conservation/plant-lists/

Flowers Tone Down the Iridescence of Their Petals and Avoid Confusing Bees

University of Cambridge    February 26, 2016

Bee on non-iridescent flower. Credit: Edwige MoyroudIridescent flowers are never as dramatically rainbow-coloured as iridescent beetles, birds or fish, but their petals produce the perfect signal for bees, according to a new study published today in Current Biology.

Bees buzzing around a garden, looking for nectar, need to be able to spot flower petals and recognise which coloured flowers are full of food for them. Professor Beverley Glover from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Plant Sciences and Dr Heather Whitney from the University of Bristol found that iridescence – the shiny, colour-shifting effect seen on soap bubbles – makes flower petals more obvious to bees, but that too much iridescence confuses bees’ ability to distinguish colours.

Whitney, Glover and their colleagues found that flowers use more subtle, or imperfect, iridescence on their petals, which doesn’t interfere with the bees’ ability to distinguish subtly different colours, such as different shades of purple. Perfect iridescence, for example as found on the back of a CD, would make it more difficult for bees to distinguish between subtle colour variations and cause them to make mistakes in their flower choices.

“In 2009 we showed that some flowers can be iridescent and that bees can see that iridescence, but since then we have wondered why floral iridescence is so much less striking than other examples of iridescence in nature,” says Glover. “We have now discovered that floral iridescence is a trade-off that makes flower detection by bumblebees easier, but won’t interfere with their ability to recognise different colours.”

Bees use ‘search images’, based on previously-visited flowers, to remember which coloured flowers are a good source of nectar.

“On each foraging trip a bee will usually retain a single search image of a particular type of flower,” explains Glover, “so if they find a blue flower that is rich in nectar, they will then visit more blue flowers on that trip rather than hopping between different colours. If you watch a bee on a lavender plant, for example, you’ll see it visit lots of lavender flowers and then fly away – it won’t usually move from a lavender flower to a yellow or red flower.”

This colour recognition is vital for both the bees and the plants, which rely on the bees to pollinate them. If petals were perfectly iridescent, then bees could struggle to identify and recognise which colours are worthwhile visiting for nectar – instead, flowers have developed an iridescence signal that allows them to talk to bees in their own visual language.

The researchers created replica flowers that were either perfectly iridescent (using a cast of the back of a CD), imperfectly iridescent (using casts of natural flowers), or non-iridescent. They then tested how long it took for individual bees to find the flowers.

They found that the bees were much quicker to locate the iridescent flowers than the non-iridescent flowers, but it didn’t make a difference whether the flowers were perfectly or imperfectly iridescent. The bees were just as quick to find the replicas modelled on natural petals as they were to find the perfectly iridescent replicas.

When they tested how fast the bees were to find nectar-rich flowers amongst other, similarly-coloured flowers, they found that perfect iridescence impeded the bees’ ability to distinguish between the flowers – the bees were often confused and visited the similarly-coloured flowers that contained no nectar. However, imperfect iridescence, found on natural petals, didn’t interfere with this ability, and the bees were able to successfully locate the correct flowers that were full of nectar.

“Bees are careful shoppers in the floral supermarket, and floral advertising has to tread a fine line between dazzling its customers and being recognisable,” says Lars Chittka from Queen Mary University of London, another co-author of the study.

“To our eyes most iridescent flowers don’t look particularly striking, and we had wondered whether this is simply because flowers aren’t very good at producing iridescence,” says Glover. “But we are not the intended target – bees are, and they see the world differently from humans.”

“There are lots of optical effects in nature that we don’t yet understand. We tend to assume that colour is used for either camouflage or sexual signalling, but we are finding out that animals and plants have a lot more to say to the world and to each other.”

Glover and her colleagues are now working towards developing real flowers that vary in their amount of iridescence so that they can examine how bees interact with them.

“The diffraction grating that the flowers produce is not as perfectly regular as those we can produce on things like CDs, but this ‘advantageous imperfection’ appears to benefit the flower-bee interaction,” says Whitney.