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UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab - The Buzz, Volume 8, January 2016
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Happy New Year !!

Year in Review
 
Highlighting our Accomplishments in 2015 

 
* Dr. Frankie was given an award at the Ecological Society of America annual meeting in Baltimore, MD for his extensive work on native bees in urban habitats!  Congrats on all your hard work!

* The 2014 Farming for Native Bees Identifications are completed and we are now up to 127 species (up from 106 the previous year) for all eight of our Brentwood farm locations!
 
* We completed another round of new signs educating people about bees and flowers at the following gardens:  Gateway Museum (Chico), Rancho Santa Botanic Garden, and the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden. Thank you Hind Fund and JiJi Foundation for your generous support.
 
* Members of our team at the Urban Bee Lab gave a total of 61 presentations (talks, garden tours, interviews, workshops, and conferences) and reached over 5,000 people with our work on native bees.

* We extended our Farming for Native Bees project into avocado orchards of Ventura Co. and have completed two full years of monitoring at selected farms.

* Our Costa Rica Bee Project received another grant from the National Geographic Society which will help us to continue our bee work in Bagaces as well as help us extend our bee outreach and education to other parts of the country!

* Sonoma is such a great city for bees and is getting even better now with the addition of several new gardens.  We just finished installing a new bee garden at Cornerstone in front of Potter's Green utilizing ancient watering techniques using ollas!  Stay tuned for a new bee garden at the Gunlach Bundschu Winery...

* We are now halfway through our 10 year citizen science project, the Sonoma Bee Count!  

* The Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Garden is expanding their gardens to include a new native bee garden and is now a part of the urban statewide survey as Camarillo's official monitoring site!

 
We're already very excited for all of our 2016 plans! It will be a dynamic, active year. Some things we're looking forward to... 

* A very busy field sampling season, especially after what is shaping up to be a wet winter.

* New Ventura County bee plant installations in the avocado groves. 

* Developing modules that synthesize our research to determine 'best practices' for native bee farming. 

* Initiate sampling work on wildlands of Mt. Diablo in Contra Costa County. 

* Continue development of Costa Rica outreach program and bee garden installations. 

* Fundraising for our California Native Bee documentary with Team Candiru.

* Presenting our work at CA Small Farms and EcoFarm conferences.
 
We would like to give a special thanks to YOU, our supporters, for making this work so meaningful. 


Volunteer Spotlight

 
Lisa Lackey: Bee Garden Docent Extraordinaire! 
 
         Since joining our lab last year in the Spring, Lisa has been instrumental in ramping up our gardening and outreach efforts. She spends her Friday afternoons in our Berkeley garden tirelessly weeding, pruning, planting, etc. The garden has never looked better - largely due to Lisa's incredible dedication. She has also joined us for farm trips and bee monitoring. Furthermore, Lisa has led several outreach efforts, giving public garden talks and tours along with tabling at various events. Thank you for all that you do, Lisa!
 
1. How did you get interested in bees and the work that we do? 

'I have always been interested in insects, in terms of ecology, and love plants.  Since the Lab studies the interaction of bees and flowers, which are so crucial to each others’ existence, it seemed intriguing.  Plus, I have found it exciting to learn, not only about the various flowers and bees, but also what gardeners and farmers can do to preserve and promote these amazing pollination events.'
 
2. What's been the most enjoyable part about working in the Lab?

'It is wonderful to work around the riot of flowers being visited by bees in the bee garden, but it has been even more enjoyable working around the other people who are interested and enthused about bees.  Their enthusiasm is quite contagious.'
 
3. Do you have any favorite stories, tidbits of bee information, or memories from your time with us this past year? 

'When I first came to the Urban Bee Garden last February, it was a solid carpet of Oxalis weeds and not a bee in sight.  I was shown where the garden paths were and started to weed between the paths, thinking there was nothing there but weeds.  I found a “Phacelia tanacetifolia” plant tag buried under the Oxalis and realized it had been a Phaceliaflower bed.  Then I found the stones that rimmed the planting bed and slowly uncovered the previous year’s bee garden.  It was like a treasure hunt.  
 
I knew very little about the bees. When spring came I saw a huge bee with a shiny abdomen and exclaimed, “Oh, what a large bumble bee!”  I was informed it was a carpenter bee, not a bumble bee.  How embarrassing.  I have since learned a lot about the bees and plants in the garden and wanted to give bee talks, because they say the best way to learn is to teach, and I have so much to learn.'
 
Upcoming Events:

January 16th - Sara will be presenting at the Alameda County Beekeepers' Association monthly meeting at 7:30 PM in Oakland.

January 20th - We will be sharing details of our Farming for Native Bees Project at the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium in Asilomar. Registration required.

January 23rd - Dr. Frankie will be at the San Luis Obispo California Native Plant Society meeting presenting our work. 

February 27th - Sara will be giving a general bee talk at the Anderson Valley Land Trust in Boonville. 

** June 1-5th - We will be hosting our workshop on native bee biology, ecology, and identification with the Jepson Herbarium. Register now- the course fills up quickly! 

Interested in bringing us to an event? Fill out a presentation request form here
Special thank you to all of those who currently fund our research and outreach work - none of this would be possible without their generous support! 
 
USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (Nat'l and CA State)
 
Western Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (WSARE)
 
Mary A. Crocker Trust
 
Contra Costa County Fish & Wildlife Propagation Fund
 
University of California, Berkeley
 
JiJi Foundation
 
Save Mt. Diablo
 
National Geographic Society

"Bee plants are not just good for bees. The resources they provide will attract a wide variety of flower-loving organisms, including other beneficial insects, hummingbirds, and small seed- eating birds. A whole ecosystem can arise as bee plants mature, transforming the garden into a small wildlife sanctuary. 

 -From one of our 2015 publications (free and downloadable),    'California Bee-Friendly Garden Recipes'
January's 'Bee Bite'
"How often do you get stung on the job?"
 
     This is one of the most common questions that we get asked by the general public. The answer, surprisingly, is not too often! We have never had to wear protective gear while working and only get stung when we make a mistake - for example, accidentally reaching into a net and not realizing that there are two bees in there instead of one. Bees are not inherently aggressive; rather, they're defensive. They are too preoccupied with three things- pollen, nectar, and mating- to pay attention to us unless we get in between them and one of these three things. 

      When a native bee does sting us, she (male bees don't sting!), doesn't leave her stinger behind in our skin. In fact, her stinger is part of the same anatomical structure that she uses to lay eggs: the ovipositor. She also doesn't die after stinging us like honey bees do. If she were to lose her ovipositor or die, she would not be able to contribute to the next generation of her species. When one honey bee dies after stinging a person, there is little impact because their death often serves to help protect the hive. In contrast, when one solitary native bee dies, then her entire contribution of offspring to the future generation dies with her. 

                
 
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