2007 Bee Crossing Demo Garden
A central precept for Master Gardeners is the reduction of pesticide use in the environment, and one of our missions is educate on the protection of water quality and environment in Sonoma County by reducing the overall use of pesticides. We offer county residents non-toxic options for reducing reliance on conventional pesticides by providing practical solutions to pest management.
Every year at the Sonoma County Fair the Master Gardeners plant a garden demonstrating sustainable, water-wise gardening, natural pest control techniques, and supporting the environment. For the 2007 fair the garden was called Bee Crossing, and its theme was providing good bee habitat.
9,192 people visited the demo garden at the 2007 Fair
Challenges facing our bees (or, why provide bee habitat?)
Habitat loss: Bees forage up to 5 miles per day, looking for pollen and nectar. As open land disappears, there are fewer sources of food
Pesticides: Most are non-selective, and kill bees and other beneficial insects, as well as pests
Pests and diseases: Problematic ones include contaigous bacterial infections that get into hives; and several kinds of parasites and mites
CCD--Colony Collapse Disorder: For two years running there have been mysterious and huge losses of bee colonies--33% in 2004/05, and another 25% in 2005/6. Research is ongoing, but there are few clues as to what's actually causing this.
Food Supply: The world food supply depends on bees--35% of all our food is pollinated by bees--14 billion dollars worth of agriculture annually.
To attract and provide habitat for bees:
The objectives in bee--friendly habitat are:
- To plant things they know and are attracted to for pollen and nectar
- To plant in large enough patches to allow them to gather a "full load" in one section, since they only go to one flower type on each trip from the hive
- To plant a diversity of plants such that there is pretty much year-round blooming, and they therefore have a continuous nectar source
- To provide a water source--all that flying is thirsty work
- Bees are attracted to blues, purples, yellows and whites
- Plant flowers of different shapes and a diversity of species
- Emphasize natives--bees have been shown to be up to four times more attracted to native plants
- Plant in single-species clusters of around 4 feet in diameter (for the "one type, one trip" thing)
Plants to Attract Bees
|Native Plants||Garden Plants|
|California Blue-bells||Pacelia Campanularia||Black-eyed Susan||Rudbeckia|
|California sun cup||Camissiana bistorta||Lavender||Lavandula|
|Coast Wallflower||Erysimum menziesii||Rosemary||Rosmarinus|
|Lilac||Ceanothus||Russian Sage||Perovskia atriplicifolia|
|Ocean Spray||Holodiscus||St John's Wort||Hypericum|
|Seaside daisy||Erigeron glaucus|
|Western verbena||Verbena lasiostachys|
Hundreds of people visit the Bee Crossing Garden every day of the fair
Bee Facts and Trivia
- An average hive of honeybees contains 40-80,000 bees
- A Bee flies up to 15 mph and roams several miles per day
- In it's lifetime, a single bee will produce 1/2 tsp of honey.
- One pound of honey requires visits to 2 million flowers
- Worker bees are all female, and live only a couple of months
- Male bees are useless for anything except fertilizing the queen
- The queen lives 5 years and lays 1500 eggs per day
Thanks to all the Master Gardeners who toiled like miners to construct and plant the garden, and to those who staff it to answer questions for the duration of the fair.
The Master Gardeners would like to acknowledge the support for the Pesticide Use Reduction program from the Sonoma County Waste Management Agency.