UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab - The Buzz, Volume 9, March 2016
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New Study Documents Wild Bee Declines
"Modeling the Status, Trends, and Impacts of Wild Bee Abundance in the United States"   

This influential paper assesses the status and trends of wild bee populations and their potential impacts on pollinations services in the United States for the first time, making it an incredibly valuable springboard for future research. By using spatial habitat models, national land-cover data, and carefully quantified expert knowledge, the study's authors found that between 2008 and 2013, modeled bee abundance declined across 23% of US land area. This decline was generally associated with the conversion of natural habitat to row crops. This may because natural habitats tend to contain a rich diversity of floral and nesting resources. They also found that the crops most highly dependent on pollinators tend to experience more severe mismatches between declining supply and increasing demand. California's Central Valley is an excellent example. 

National assessments such as this can help focus both scientific and political efforts to understand and sustain wild bees. As new information becomes available, repeated assessments can update findings, revise priorities, and track progress toward sustainable management of our nation's pollinators. This study is particularly timely as there is significant interest on the federal level in pollinator health, as evidenced by the 2014 Presidential Memorandum on Creating a Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.

Our work at the Urban Bee Lab is informed by a desire to protect and restore native bees by furthering understandings of fundamental relationships between bees, flowers, and people. Early data from our Farming for Native Bees Project has shown that habitat manipulation through the addition of targeted bee-attractive plants to farm habitat can increase bee species numbers over time. Increasing the availability of diverse floral resources for our natives bees, especially in areas with significant farm coverage, is a key strategy to support varied and healthy pollinator populations.

Full Paper Citation: Koh, Insu et al. “Modeling the Status, Trends, and Impacts of Wild Bee Abundance in the United States.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113.1 (2015): 140–145. Web.
Meet Chris, Our Undergraduate Researcher!
Many of you have met Chris during outreach events, fieldwork trips, and other Lab activities. He has been working with our Lab for a year and half, first as a volunteer through the Undergraduate Research Apprentice Program and now as a member of our team. He is pursuing a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies at UC Berkeley with a minor in Education.  

Chris loves learning about ecology, food systems, and environmental education. He's worked at several nonprofits centered on these issues in the Bay Area such as the San Francisco Zoo, The HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Learning) Project, and the Community Food and Justice Coalition.  He particularly enjoys participating in fieldwork- especially when the Brentwood orchards are blooming in the Spring! Bumble bees are his favorite bee group and manzanitas (or lupines) are his favorite bee plant. We are extremely lucky to have him on our team as he has already proven himself to be invaluable to all our projects!
Upcoming Events:

March 7th - Farmer Al from Frog Hollow Farm and Sara will be presenting California Small Farms Conference

April 1/2 - Mt. Diablo Bioblitz:  Dr. Frankie will be sampling bees!

April 9th - We will be tabling at the Sunol Wildflower Festival, an annual East Bay Regional Park District event. 

April 17th - Jaime is giving a talk and garden tour at the Regional Parks Botanic Garden in Tilden Park (10a-12:30p).  Click here to register!

April 23rd - Sara will lead an Interpretive Bee Walk with the Anderson Valley Land Trust in Boonville.

May 1st - The annual Bringing Back the Natives Tour will be taking place, with a special stop at the UC Berkeley Bee Garden! 

Interested in bringing us to an event? Fill out a presentation request form here
Our friends Kate Frey and Gretchen Lebuhn have just released a new bee-friendly gardening book, available now!
This is the state of the bee garden in early Feb!  When you come to the May tour it will look totally different and far less weedy!
Salvia mellifera is already in full bloom!

Event Spotlight
Bringing Back the Natives Tour on Sunday, May 1st

Our Bee Evaluation Garden at the UC Berkeley Oxford Tract will be one of 30+ ecologically-minded gardens being featured on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour. Members of our Lab will be available all day to answer questions about our work, while volunteers will be catching and talking about native bees to display some of our research methods. We will be  selling copies of our book (California Bees and Blooms), bee identification flip booklets, and native plants. We will also have some fun activities for children who accompany their parents to the garden! Come join us for a day of fun to learn about plants and bees, and how you can play a role in their conservation. 

March Bee of the Month - Eucera spp.
The bee season is officially in full swing!  Our winter rains have brought green hillsides back to our landscape and early spring natives are starting to bloom.  The orchards of California have burst into flower and with it will come some of the early spring long-horned bees (Eucera spp.).  California is home to 23 species of spring long-horned bees and while we rarely encounter them in our urban surveys, they are common visitors to our Brentwood farm sites.  Males of these bees have extremely long, dark antennae, similar to Melissodes and Svastra, but these bees are only active in the spring, from March until May.
These solitary females construct their nests in the ground in bare patches of soil.  Females are medium-sized and some species have a white and black striped abdomen.  One difference between females of Eucera and their summer counterparts, is that Eucera females do not have branched scopal hairs.  Scopa are the hairs that bees collect and store their pollen on (* you’d need a microscope to see this!).  Males tend to be more slender than the females and they have yellow markings on the lower parts of their faces.  Some of their favorite plants to visit include manzanita’s (Arctostaphylos spp.), salvia’s (Salvia spp.), and lupine’s (Lupinus spp.).   Keep your eyes open for these spring beauties!
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