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Keep Us Buzzing: Plants and Tools for the Honey Bee Haven

Raised toward our $5,000 Goal
43 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on February 28, at 11:59 PM PST
Project Owners

Down to the Wire

February 28, 2021

Thanks to everyone who has donated and shared during our campaign. There's just 12 hours to go to raise funds for tools and plants to keep the Haven buzzing and blooming. To recognize these final 12 hours, here are twelve top plants for the bee garden. 

Starting at the top left (listed alphabetical by genus): calamint, ceanothus, redbud, coneflower, California poppy, gaura, toyon, sedum, sage, sunflower, aster, and germander.

Hope this gives you ideas for your own garden. 

Some Things Just Don't Get Noticed

February 25, 2021

I don't know about you, but for me Thursdays seem to just fly by. The bee garden equivalent of Thursdays is calamint, Calamintha nepetoides. This member of the mint family just doesn't get the respect it deserves. 

It's almost impossible to find in garden centers, probably because the individual plants aren't especially striking. Flower sales are all about the bling! But put this plant in front of a bee and watch the magic happen. This is the one plant in the Haven that stops visitors in their tracks wanting to know what it is and where they can get it. There's never a day of bloom when it isn't covered with bees. We plant it in large masses for a striking effect.

For me, this is what makes the Haven so valuable. We provide education and interaction with bees and flowers that our visitors can't get elsewhere.

Thanks for your support!

Bees Eat Their Broccoli

February 24, 2021

Scientists who study bee diets have noticed that they’ll generally select the most nutritious plants, making them the envy of parents everywhere. As we all power through mid-week, today I’d like to call out that workhorse of bee plants, the Lamiaceae, or Mint family. 

Study after study around the world, including our work at Davis, has shown that this group of plants is preferred by many bee species. This is especially noteworthy because these plants’ pollen is not accessible to bees. That must be some really tasty, quality nectar.

Suggested plants in this family include any herbs, catmint, lavender, and rosemary. Most attractive in our studies was Russian sage, shown here with coneflower. This is a good combination, since the latter is a pollen source.

Observations like this guide us not only as to what to plant in our bee gardens, but allow researchers to focus on groups of plants that may be especially nutritious for bees. By studying the chemistry of these plants, we can learn more about what keeps bees healthy. 

Thanks for your support of our part in this important work.

And as an aside, if you grow broccoli in your winter vegetable garden, leave some plants to flower. The pollen is high-protein and a valuable winter food for bees.

Slowly But Surely, We're Getting There

February 23, 2021

We're so close! Just $195 more will get us to $2500. Slow and steady will get us to our goal: we've had among the largest number of donors of any of the Crowdfund campaigns running this cycle. I'm very appreciative of this broad interest in bees and the Haven.

Today's featured bee is another slow and steady character. The valley carpenter bee, Xylocopa sonorina, is the largest bee in the Haven (and in all of North America). The female is a striking all black color with a blue iridescence if the light hits her just right. The male is affectionately known as the 'teddy bear bee' since he looks like a fuzzy brown bear. He's active towards the end of the day and is less commonly seen than the female. As you can see in his picture, they nest in tree branches. They are the only cavity-nesting bee that excavates their own nest; other species use existing cavities created by other animals.

This large bee isn't as nimble a flyer as some of the smaller, faster bees. They are buzz pollinators, however, meaning that they bring us food like tomatoes that honey bees cannot pollinate. This video has more information about food garden pollination.

Week 4: The Home Stretch

February 22, 2021

It's the last week of our Crowdfund! Thanks to all who've shared and donated. Your support is amazing, and without it we could not keep buzzing and blooming. 

Each day of our last week will feature a bee or plant that really stands out. Today it's Bombus melanopygus, the blacktailed bumble bee. Although not quite as common as the blackfaced or yellowfaced bumble bees, Haven visitors should see this one starting around mid-April. 

This bee stands out to me for a few reasons. This was the bumble bee species that was the first queen I ever observed as a new bee gardener. She was also the first queen of any species seen that year in the Haven. She's pictured here on Spanish lavender. 

Second, this is also the first species for which I had the chance to observe a color morph. From about north of Redding into southern Oregon, this bee has an orange band on the abdomen. I had a chance to see this (second picture) on a bee-watching trip.

Finally, this is the first (and only) bumble bee species I've observed in my own garden. I'm in a fairly urban area and was thrilled to see a queen, worker (third picture, shown on the California native Carpenteria californica), and a male. This indicates they are established in the area. Build it and they WILL come!

Please help us out so we can raise $2500 for the month. Thank you.

Week 3: Our Supporters Are the Bee's Knees and the Cat's Whiskers

February 19, 2021

In other words, you're the best! These two expressions came into common use in the 1920s and referred to things that were small or overlooked but nonetheless important. Kind of like the Haven and our bees.

We're raised nearly $2000 thanks to your generous support and sharing. Next week I'll be wrapping up with a tool review to give you an idea of how we'll be using your donations. Gardeners might also find some useful tips about tools to purchase for their own gardens.

Also next week is a bee garden Q&A session over Zoom. I'll be on from 12:15 to 12:45 PST on February 23 taking questions about bees and gardens. To join: Meeting ID 995 0184 7681 and passcode 671621. We'll start with a look at ceanothus, one of the best shrubs for the California bee garden, and then open it up for questions.

Ceanothus is a diverse plant genus that supports a wide range of animals. Which is a perfect lead into another great Crowdfund to consider supporting this month. Now in its 10th year, Biodiversity Museum Day is an annual UC Davis event at which all of the campus museums and collections, including the Haven, open at no charge to the public. They're seeking funds to create videos about the collections that will expand their reach beyond this one-day event. Donate to this program here.

Thank you for your continued support. It is greatly appreciated.

Week 2: Sometimes things just don't go as planned

February 14, 2021

Sometimes when you thought you've got something all figured out, a few curves come your way. I'd hoped to provide frequent project updates, including videos about the flowers and bees active in the garden. After all, you should see what your hard-earned dollars are supporting.

My computer had other ideas, however, and the backup I'm using during repairs is too outdated to support much video work. This highlights just how valuable your contributions are. Like many University programs, we are expected to be self-supporting. Hence the need to keep old computers going as long as possible. 

In the meantime, here's a picture of a plant you might not have expected to see at the Haven that's blooming now. This is the flower bud of California pipevine or California Dutchman's pipe, Aristolochia californica. This native vine isn't used by bees, but is the larval food source for the pipevine swallowtail butterfly, Battus philenor.  Notice that the flowers emerge before the leaves, which is a bit unusual. While bees are our focus, we know that many of our visitors are interested in habitat gardening for many animals, and like to include a few plants and features to showcase this.

Thanks for your continuing support!

Week 2: We're Getting A Little Nutty

February 08, 2021

We'll be getting a little nutty at the Haven soon, as our almonds will be blooming shortly. California's $5 billion plus almond industry couldn't exist without the hardworking honey bees like the girl shown here. 

At the Haven, we've long recognized the importance of honey bees to our state's nut and fruit growers and home gardeners. After all, we were created because of Häagen-Dazs' concern about pollination of these ice cream ingredients.

Unfortunately our demonstration orchard has seen better days. We have a few large remnant almond trees from the time when the land we're on was a commercial ranch. I love the snowy flower petals they drop in early March.

I'd like to make the second week of our Crowdfund campaign all about fruit trees. Our goal is to raise $1000 this week to re-build our orchard. An added benefit is that we can use our orchard to teach classes on fruit tree pruning once we can do in-person training. Please consider helping us if you can. Thanks!

I'd also like to give a shout out to another bee-supporting Crowdfund that's running now. The California Master Beekeeper Program does education to ensure our state's beekeepers have access to the latest, science-based information to keep their hives healthy. They're raising funds to develop an online training program to reach even more beekeepers. You'll find details here

Thank you for a great first week

February 06, 2021

The Haven team really appreciates everyone who has donated or shared this week. Your support will be a great help to keep us buzzing and blooming! To get a peek at what's happening in the garden right now, check out our latest video:

Wow! Thank you for your generosity

February 03, 2021

Thanks to all who have donated or shared. We're on track for a great campaign. Our first week ends on Sunday, February 7. Can you help us get to 25 percent of our goal -- $1250 -- by then?

Let's Keep it Going

February 02, 2021

Twenty-four hours into our campaign and we've almost reached 10 percent of our goal. Thanks to everyone who has donated; please feel free to share.

Haven volunteers worked today and were thrilled to learn we've already raised enough to purchase one professional grade dumping cart. Their sore backs are greatly relieved.

Let's keep it going! We still need new tools, and most importantly, more plants for the bees. Thanks, everyone.

Off to a strong start

February 02, 2021

We're five hours into the first day of our Crowdfund and the donations are starting. Thanks! We've about halfway to our first purchase: a dumping garden cart. This will make pruning and removal of green waste to the compost pile a breeze for our hard-working volunteers.

Choose a giving level


Junior Bee Gardener

Perfect for kids who may wish to contribute from their allowance. This will fund one plant. Donors will be recognized on social media.


Solitary Bee

Ideal for individual donors. This will fund multiple plants or a small pruning tool. Donors will be recognized on social media and our web page.


Flower Power

Keep us blooming with a donation at this level. This will allow us to purchase a fruit tree for the Haven. Donors will be recognized on social media and our web page.


The Hive

Got a family or friend group that likes to work together to do good? Consider becoming a Haven Hive donor. Gifts at this level will support garden irrigation repairs or purchase a back-friendly ergonomic dump cart or similar tool. Donors will be recognized on social media and our web page and will receive permanent recognition in the garden.


Queen Bee

Help lead our efforts through support at this level. Donations at this level will support replacement of garden zones or larger tool purchase. Donors will be recognized on social media and our web page and will receive permanent recognition in the garden.

Our Crowdfunding Groups