You'll not only see honey bees in a bee observation hive, but specimens of bumble bees, cuckoo bees, carpenter bees, long-horned bees, squash bees, plasterer bees, mining bees, leafcutter bees, wool carder bees and sweat bees.
The exhibit is in the Southard Floriculture Building on the May Fair grounds, located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Participating are the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, both part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology; and the newly formed UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton, owner of BD Ranch and Apiary and a volunteer at the Laidlaw facility for several years, is providing the bee observation hive, a glassed-in box that enables viewers to observe the activity that goes on inside a bee hive.
Fishback, a past president of the Sacramento Area Beekeepers' Association and member of the California State Beekeepers' Association, is an educator as well as a beekeeper. He speaks about bees at schools, organizations and festivals. His daughter, Emily, 2, accompanies him on many of his talks.
“Emily loves bees,” said Fishback, who keeps 125 hives on his property in Wilton. She knows that a bee has six legs, four wings and five eyes, and that each bee has three body parts: the head, thorax and abdomen. She knows that a honey bee eats pollen and nectar, pollinates flowers and makes honey.”
UC Davis graduate students, including squash bee expert Katharina Ullmann and area beekeepers (among them Jesse Loren of Winters and Lindsay Weaver of Sacramento) will be available during part of the fair (weekend) to share their experiences with fairgoers.
Children attending the Dixon May Fair on Mother's Day, Sunday, May 12 can make a "Honey Bee on a Stick," an arts and crafts project that doubles as a hand-held fan and puppet. Executive director Amina Harris of the Honey and Pollination Center, an area beekeeper and a former school teacher, will help the children create the take-home art. The free activity is from from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Southard Floriculture Building. Harris crafts the bee art using a yellow paper plate, duct tape, googly eyes, a stick, and pipe cleaners (for antennae).
The Dixon May Fair's floriculture building, staffed by superintendent Kathy Hicks of Dixon, includes stunning garden displays and a myriad of plants and cut flowers. It is open from 4 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
A day in the life of a single worker bee...
A honey bee tumbles off the flowering catmint (Nepeta) and struggles to right herself.
Her wings tattered, her body battered, she does not buzz away.
Perhaps she is approaching the end of her six-week lifespan--three weeks working inside the hive and three weeks working outside the hive. Bee scientists say that worker bees literally work themselves to death.
As a forager, she likely made about 40 trips a day gathering nectar and pollen. Forty trips a day. It's like going to the grocery store 40 times a day. Oops, forgot something. Got to return to the store.
Bees can forage from a distance of up 5 miles away from their colony, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
She's just one bee of about 60,000 in the colony. And now, she will not return. She may have eaten something she shouldn't have or may have an intestinal infection, surmised Mussen.
Or maybe she was poisoned by a pesticide, snagged by a bird, bitten by a spider, or ravaged by Varroa mites.
Still, seeing a honey bee tumble off a blossom and die is something we humans rarely observe.
Meanwhile, her sisters keep working the blossoms, tasks needed to keep the colony alive. Back at the hive, the queen bee is busily laying about 2000 eggs a day to replace all the adult bees who die every day.
A day in the life of a single worker bee...
It's not "Rise and Shine!" any more.
It's "Sparkle and Shine."
"Sparkle and Shine," a yellow rose related to the Julia Child Rose, drew quite a bit of attention at the UC Davis event, "Roses: the "Eyeconic Weekend," sponsored May 4-5 by the California Center for Urban Horticulture (CCUH) at Foundation Plant Services, 455 Hopkins Road, west of the central campus.
Participants loved it--and so did the honey bees. The bees--probably from the nearby Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility--beelined to that floribunda, but they also foraged on many other roses.
CCUH executive director Dave Fujino described the event as quite successful. The good news is that some of the roses are still available for sale. An online rose catalog depicts such roses as Yabba Dabba Doo, Big Momma, Tiddly Winks, Wild Blue Yonder, McCartney Rose, Passionate Kisses, and Oh My!
You can email Fujino at email@example.com with your rose request (and ascertain the availability) and then purchase the roses at the Foundation Plant Services site, corner of Hopkins and Straloch roads, from 4 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8 and Friday, May 10, Fujino said. (From west Hutchison Drive, take Hopkins Road and then Straloch Road. See map.)
Then it's gearing up for next year's rose days. The event (free admission) is always held the first weekend of May, right before Mother's Day. Guests look forward to touring eight acres of roses, learning rose care at informational/training sessions, and gracing their gardens with their choices.
The bees foraging on the roses are "free" but they won't go home with you because they already have a home!
We all take short cuts--short cuts around the campus, to the beach, to a favorite restaurant...
Honey bees take short cuts, too.
We've often watched assorted bumble bees and carpenter bees drill a hole in a long-tubed flower to rob the nectar.
And we've watched honey bees benefitting from this behavior.
Today we observed a carpenter bee, Xylocopa tabaniformis orpifex, engaging in nectar robbing in salvia at the UC Davis Arboretum. Nectar robbing occurs when a bee or other animal circumvents the usual plant-pollinator relationship and "cheats" by entering a flower from the outside to steal nectar, thus avoiding pollination or contact with the anthers.
There's excellent information on bumble bees, their habitat needs, their behavior, and identifying characteristics in a free, downloadable PDF from the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation: "Conserving Bumble Bees: Guidelines for Creating and Managing Habitat for America's Declining Pollinators."
The PDF mentions that "short-tongued bumble bees will engage in 'nectar robbing' from flowers with a long corolla tube by biting holes at the base of the corolla and drinking the nectar from the outside of the flower." The bee grabs the reward but doesn't contribute to "the plant's pollination needs."
The 40 mile-per-hour howling wind didn't seem to bother the syrphid fly, aka hover fly and flower fly.
It clung to a blossom on the tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii, and proceeded to nectar. Its wings sparkled in the morning sun.
This is a pollinator and one that's often mistaken for a honey bee.
A honey bee it isn't. It's a fly.
If you want to read more about them, be sure to check out entomologist Robert Bugg's UC ANR publication, Flower Flies (Syrphidae) and Other Biological Control Agents for Aphids. Click on the link for access to a free 25-page PDF.