UC Davis Bee Garden Open House on May 12

Did you celebrate National Public Gardens Day today (Friday, May 11)?


It's always held the Friday before Mother's Day to promote awareness of North America's public gardens. The non-profit American Public Gardens Association of Pennsylvania established the observance in 2009.

Want to celebrate it at the University of California, Davis?

The Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, Davis campus, has scheduled an open house on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Here's what's planned, according to bee garden manager Christine Casey:

  • Bee observation and ID demonstrations for kids of all ages
  • Bee and plant experts to answer your questions
  • Learn what and how to plant to help bees
  • Learn about home food gardens and bees
  • Free sunflower plants while they last
  • Free parking at the garden
  • Difficult-to-find bee plants for sale.  (See plant inventory.)

 A little history:

The garden, installed in the fall of 2009, was founded and "came to life" during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project.

 A Sausalito team--landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki--won the design competition.

The half-acre bee garden is anchored by Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long mosaic ceramic bee sculpture that is the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. She and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. The art in the garden is the work of their students, ranging from those in Entomology 1 class to community residents. Eagle Scout Derek Tully planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.

The garden is named for the primary donor, the premium ice cream brand, Haagen-Dazs. Other major donors include the  California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (under the leadership of then State Regent Debra Jamison of Fresno). Names of many of the donors--those who gave $1000 or more--are inscribed beneath the Miss Bee Haven sculpture.

Missy Borel Gable, now director of the statewide UC California Master Gardeners' Program, served as the founding manager of the garden. Under her leadership and the work of the 19 founding volunteers, the bee garden was listed as one of the Sacramento Bee's top 10 garden destinations. The 19 volunteers chalked up 5,229 hours of service between May 2010 and Feb. 15, 2013, when their assignment ended.  At the $10 minimum wage, that would have amounted to $52,290.

Native bee specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, who has monitored the garden since its very beginnings, has identified more than 80 bee species there.

If you visit the garden on Saturday, odds are you'll see many different species, including honey bees, bumble bees, carpenter bees, and sweat bees, as well as butterflies and dragonflies.