Recently our office has received many calls about bee swarms. These calls are typical at this time of year. Each swarm can contain 5,000 to 20,000 bees.
Understandably bee swarms can cause uneasiness to residents unfamiliar with honey bees. While the swarms might seem frightening, the common honey bee is extremely docile. Unless they feel threatened they are unlikely to react defensively.
Swarming bees are in search of a new home. Honey bees prefer dark cavities with an easily defendable entrance at least 9 feet from the ground. Hollowed out trees are ideal sites, but other favored sites include: inside walls of houses, in or around chimneys, in outbuildings, fences, shrubs, water meters, utility boxes, barbecue grills, or under decks.
To learn more about honey bee swarms and hives, please see UC’s Removing Honey Bee Swarms and Established Hives.
- What is a bee swarm?
- Swarm clusters
- Preventing establishment of a colony in your home
- Removing established colonies from your home
- Preventing future invasions
- Finding professionals to assist with colony extractions
- Author: Jim Downer
California is a highly urbanized state with an expanding population. Planned landscapes and gardens are essential for Californians to maintain health promoting environments via urban landscapes. California’s urban landscapes are complex plant systems that provide essential functional, environmental, recreational, and psychological benefits for urban residents.
In 1995 landscapes covered 1.369 million acres in California, which is the most recent reliable data published. This planted area has undoubtedly grown with population increases since that time. In addition to creating beauty and health benefits, the ornamental plant and tree industry creates and supports many jobs and economic activity within the state.
The landscape industry is estimated to have a statewide economic activity well over $5 billion annually, with approximately 60% centered in Southern California. When indirect effects of tourism are included, the economic impact and importance of landscape horticulture nearly doubles. Examples of related employment numbers and their approximate memberships are: licensed landscape contractors (2,500), landscape architects (2,000), sod growers (4), arborists and city street tree managers (800+), urban water agencies (100+), along with urban forestry agencies and groups, irrigation managers and engineers, and municipal parks, planning and public works departments.
Landscapes are populated by two major categories of plants: turfgrasses, and woody ornamentals such as trees, shrubs and vines.
Turfgrass is the largest irrigated crop in the U.S. with an estimated land cover of 40.5 million acres or nearly 2% of the total area of the continental U.S.. The turfgrass industry in California is arguably the largest in the world with the economic impact from golf alone estimated to be more than $15 billion annually.
Turfgrass plays an important role in the landscape and in the lives of Californians. It is aesthetically pleasing and provides a safer, cushioned surface for sports and recreational activities. Turfgrass reduces surface temperature by transpirational cooling. It also lessens glare, noise, soil erosion, and dust thereby reducing air pollution and allergens. Turfgrass provides habitat for wildlife and reduces wildfire hazard. It has been demonstrated to be an effective bio-filter for applied pesticides and nutrients, and for pharmaceuticals and other xenobiotics (substances not normally found) in reclaimed water for irrigation.
Turfgrass also helps to remove carbon from the environment. Long-term soil testing data from Colorado golf courses were used to estimate soil C sequestration. Turf on the average golf course in their study sequestered as much as 450 kg (1000 pounds) C per acre per year, which is 1.5 to 3 times greater than soils under agricultural production.
Trees are perhaps the most emblematic and valuable individuals in landscapes. In part these valuable landscape elements provide shade, which in turn provides energy savings in shaded buildings. Trees absorb and store carbon and thus play a role in moderating global climate change. Trees also mitigate landscape noise, and provide an aesthetic environment where people live.
Unfortunately, the average life span of trees in urban landscapes is only about seven years. Though some studies have called for the survival statistics to be revised upward to 19-28 years, many urban trees still fail to establish or mature to serve their potential landscape functions. Research on sustaining trees in urban environments is more critical than ever as we rely on them for energy savings, carbon sequestration and the other benefits they add to urban landscapes. It is imperative that we find ways to extend the lifespan of these critical landscape elements in urban settings.
Jim Downer is a UCCE Farm Advisor in Ventura County. His specialties include pathology of landscape ornamental, Phytophtohora Root Rot, Mulches, Potting soils, Palm horticulture, and Arboriculture. Additional information about his research can be found here.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) works extensively with the nation’s farmers and ranchers to protect soil, water, air, plant, and animal resources while meeting production goals.
Working with agricultural producers allows NRCS to promote conservation practices approximately 1.4 billion acres of the privately held land in the United States. About 92 million acres of land in our country is tended by home gardeners. In an effort to promote conservation on these lands, NRCS has partnered with other organizations to produce, Backyard Conservation: Bringing Conservation From the Countryside to Your Backyard.
This full-color and informative online resource highlights 10 conservation activities that can be used in your backyard, shared spaces, and public places too.
- Trees add beauty and so much more.
- Trees, shrubs, and other plants can provide homes and food for wildlife.
- A backyard pond will likely become the focal point for all your backyard conservation.
- Wetlands filter excess nutrients, chemicals, and sediment and provide habitat for a host of interesting creatures.
- Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer.
- Mulching cools, protects, and enriches the soil.
- Apply only those nutrients the plants can use. (See our previous post on soil test kits to help you get accurate test results.)
- Terracing makes flower and vegetable gardening possible on steep slopes.
- Drip irrigation and other water conservation practices can save water and money.
- Early detection and treatment of pests means a healthier growing environment.
The County of Ventura Landscape Division applies environmentally friendly practices at the government center site and at county building locations throughout the area. Landscape Supervisor, Scott Bucy, works hard to balance costs, function and environmental benefits.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices are incorporated throughout the division. These principals are front and center in the planning stage and continue through routine maintenance work. Mr. Bucy emphasizes using the right plant in the right place goes a long way in reducing the need for weed, insect and vertebrate pest control in the future. When chemical control measures are required, low toxicity products are used. Using IPM principals to guide choices helps to reduce labor and material costs while reducing potential damage to the environment.
Water usage and conservation is another important consideration throughout the division. Drought resistant and native plants are used during replanting efforts. At the Government Center’s 82 acre site, an onsite weather station and wireless water management system work together to provide high tech water guidance, which greatly reduces usage while insuring plants get enough water to maintain health. In areas in which is practical, wood mulch is used to improve water filtration and retention. These water saving efforts combine to further reduce costs and environmental impact.
These positive choices and long-term benefits go a long way towards improving water quality and reducing costs. While an onsite weather stations and wireless water management systems are more practical on a large scale, the concepts and practices used by the County Landscape Division can help home gardeners save time and expense while helping to improve water quality.
Assistance in implementing changes in your home garden can be found in previous blog posts, or by contacting your local UCCE Master Gardeners by email or by phone at 645-1455.
Cal/OSHA’s 2012 Heat Illness Prevention Campaign provides multiple approaches to protect outdoor workers from heat illness. The campaign is a combination of education, outreach and enforcement efforts.
Education resources for employees are available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Punjabi and Mixteco. These free resources include DVD that features workers from agriculture, construction and landscaping occupations.
Employers can also find resources to help minimize heat illness.
In addition to the online resources, Cal/OSHA will be providing free, one-day programs designed for educators and leaders from community organizations who can help reach workers at risk for heat illness. These “Train-the-Trainer” programs will be held throughout the state, with a class in Ventura on June 15. To learn more about the training program please see the following links in English and Spanish.