UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab - The Buzz, Volume 3, Mar. 2015
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What's the buzz? A Native bee documentary?!
The Urban Bee Lab is excited to announce the production of a new documentary on California’s native bees! 

"This film explores the lives of the silent majority - the wild bees. They are diverse, numerous, fascinating, and beautiful. We will show in exquisite detail how they overcome life's challenges, finding mates and caring for their young before time runs out!"

The projected documentary will bring our book, California Bees & Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday Books), to life with breathtaking footage of California’s unique, native bees! We'll introduce the public to the 1,600 species of California’s native bees and the hidden lives they lead. After all, native bees provide us the free and crucial ecosystem service of pollinating 100 food crops in North America as well as 90% of California’s flowering plants!  

We intend for this film to extend information about the importance of native bees to thousands of school children, naturalists, gardeners, and researchers. To do this, we are partnering with the professional documentary film group, Team Candiru from Bristol, UK. Specializing in filming the environment at a macro scale, Team Candiru will enable us to watch these bees up-close and personal, throughout their dynamic lifecycles (learn more about Team Candiru's other native bee projects below)! The best part about Team Candiru is that their completed films are free for everyone’s viewing pleasure and education.   

If this short documentary film (~45 min.) project sounds as exciting to you as it does to us, we hope that we can count on your support.  Our goal is to raise $99,000 for the film’s production, but we also need help getting the word out about this new and innovative project.  If you are able to offer support, we would be happy to highlight you on our website, in all promotional materials and venues, and in the credits of the film.

Here is what YOU can do:
  1. Make a tax-deductible donation (Heyday Books is the fiscal sponsor), everything counts, nothing is too small!
  2. Connect us with your community by forwarding this message to other listservs and newsletters you are associated with.
  3. Connect us with family foundations or others interested in pollinators!
  4. Spread the word by sharing on Facebook and Twitter.
Please join us on March 26th, 2015 at 7pm at The Dock at Linden Street for “Bees & Beers” a night to introduce and discuss the new film. We will also be launching a kickstarter campaign for this project shortly.  Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to working with you! For further information, please contact the lab at:
Upcoming Events:

March 7, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a book talk and signing at the Oakland Public Library (Dimond Branch) at 1pm.

March 8, 2015.  Sara Leon Guerrero will be participating at Frog Hollow Farm Blossom Walk. Event starts at 10am, Sara is presenting at 1pm.

March 24, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a radio interview on KZYX Mendocino Public Library for the Ecology Hour Science Edition.

March 25, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a book talk and signing at Pegasus Books in Downtown Berkeley at 7:30pm.

March 26, 2015.  7pm at The Dock at Linden Street for “Bees & Beers” a night to introduce and discuss the new film!  The Dock offers plenty of parking and delicious brews. We’ll provide some small bites.  See you there and help us to “pollinate” by spreading the word and email us if you have any questions!

March 27, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a book talk and signing at Copperfield's Books in Petaluma at 7:00pm.

April 16, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a book talk and signing at the Contra Costa County Public Library in Danville from 6:30 to 7:30pm.

May 3, 2015.  Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour!  Come tour the Oxford Tract Bee Garden during the 1 day a year we are open to the public!!

May 5, 2015.  Gordon Frankie will be doing a book talk and signing at the Castro Valley Library at 6:30pm

June 3-7, 2015.  California's Native Bees:  Biology, Ecology, and Identification.  This course, offered through the Jepson Herbarium workshop series offers an in depth look at native bees with an emphasis on learning how to identify them.  To register, click HERE.
Bee of the Month – Anthophora
As temperatures rise here in the Bay Area (we are the lucky ones in most of the U.S.), bees are beginning to sense that the time has come to emerge.  Spring brings several species of mining bees (Anthophora spp.) that have been overwintering in their underground burrows.  California is home to roughly 60 species of Anthophora, of which 6 are commonly found in our urban survey work.  Females are medium-sized with robust pollen-collecting hairs on their hind legs.  Some species, like A. californica and A. urbana have striped abdomens, whereas others like A. edwardsii and A. pacifica have mostly dark abdomens without banding.  Males, two pictured above, often have pale colored markings on the front of their faces, though it’s hard to tell as they zoom by in a grey blur.
Some species congregate in areas and group their nests in large aggregations.  In the wild, nesting aggregations of A. edwardsii can sometimes contain hundreds of individuals!  You might notice it when you see dozens of male bees hovering just over the ground waiting for a virgin female to emerge from her nest.  The males then pounce on her in a fight to be her suitor and tussles often occur where large balls of bees roll around until a winner is declared. 
These bees are generalist foragers but some of their favorite blooms include the Pride of Maderia, lavender, catnip, salvias, and coreopsis.  Be sure to have some early blooming plants in your garden for these spring flyers.

Meet our Partners: Team Candiru
Team Candiru is a small not-for-profit natural history production company based in Bristol, England. They specialize in visually compelling, educational and scientifically accurate content. Meet the crew, and check out their other projects!
  • James Dunbar is a camera operator who has a strong emphasis on filming insects, spiders and other small creatures. He has created a large portfolio of work that you can find on his website.  James has a B.Sc (Hons) in Zoology from the University of Glasgow with a specializing in the behavior of insects and has an M.A. in Wildlife Documentary Production from the University of Salford.
  • Richard Mann is their second cameraman and specializes in time-lapse plant cinematography! Richard hails from Luxembourg and has studied the field comprehensively; He has B.A. in Wildlife and Media from the University of Cumbria and an M.A. in Wildlife Documentary Production from the University of Salford.
  • Hazel Waring is in charge of outreach, online media, and fundraising! After a background in music, she studied Ecology at the University of Sheffield and specialized in running scientific activities at local schools and museums whilst somehow managing to study the effects of climate change on plants on the side.
  • Dave Gillies is a composer, radio presenter and voice-over artist. He's responsible for the audio side of Team Candiru - writing and performing the music, narrating and adding the sound effects. He also presents a soundtrack radio show on, go listen if you have some time!
So... What's a Candiru? Follow this link for an explanation from James Dunbar, about their team name, and gain some interesting facts about Amazon ecosystems!
Documentary Title Contest: We need your help!
[Your Title Here]:
California Bees and Blooms
Do you have a passion for puns? A talent for titles? Help us come up with a great sounding title for our projected documentary. The subtitle will be California Bees and Blooms, to tie into the book it will be based on. Winner(s) will have their name listed in the credits and will receive a copy of the book. Please, email your catchy suggestions to We will announce any winners in our next newsletter!
Turning Your Garden into a Home for Native Pollinators
A Guide to Bee Hotels
Bee Hotels, or condos, provide a great home for native bees and beneficial insects! Keeping a bee hotel near your garden can ensure that your plants will never be lacking in pollinators, and you’ll help to contribute to the health of your local ecosystem. Here are some tips to constructing your own!

1. Find materials:
These hotels can come in all sizes! Do whatever fits with your space. Here at the Urban Bee Lab, we are installing a large hotel, using some palates, but they certainly don’t have to be that large. An up-cycled bird house would work just as well, or some reclaimed cinderblocks.  Be creative with the materials you have.  From production-perfect to natural structures made of wood logs, pallets, cardboard, rolled paper, bamboo, reeds, stones, pinecones, bricks, tiles and clay, bee hotels come in all sizes and shapes! Keep it natural, though; the use of chemicals will repel insects.

2. Prepare the condos!
When it comes to drilling “bee holes” in wood, take into consideration the fact that different bee species are drawn to different sizes of holes for shelter and egg-laying. Drill into the logs holes of various sizes and depths in a small oblique angle so that any moisture can run out. Don’t drill all the way through; with an open hole there is a chance of draft and predation.  For leafcutter bees, the drilled holes should be 1/4″ wide and 2 1/2 -4″ deep. For mason bees, drill holes that are 6″ deep, 5/16″ wide.  A wall of clay mixed with sand attracts bees who like to nest in sandy earth. You can also add old tin cans or old stone plant pots filled with clay and place it between logs.

3. Location! Location! Location!
Find a sheltered spot, with the opening facing the sun. Full sunlight ensures that there will be enough heat for the developing brood!  

4. Assemble and watch the bees move in!
It is important that you give the hotel a roof against rain so that the wood and reeds stay dry — especially because bees are searching for dry spots. If the house will be freestanding, make sure the back is also protected from rain and wind. Also make sure the materials are well secured in regards to construction. Soon you should begin noticing some plugged holes as bees take up residence!
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