heather-mckean-2ZplT45TfBM-unsplash.jpg

Bees

Wild Willow Farm is excited to welcome you to our self-guided tour! Follow the signs around the farm and  learn about each landmark along the way. Thank you to local Chula Vista High School students for helping to create content for each QR code! 

Honey bees....

Honey bees are the single most frequent visitor to flowers of naturally occurring plants worldwide. One out of eight interactions between a non-agricultural plant and a pollinator is carried out by the honey bee. Honey bees were recorded in 89 percent of the pollination networks in the honey bee's native range and in 61 percent in regions where honey bees have been introduced by humans. Honey bees are native to Africa and middle east and southern Europe and have become naturalized in ecosystems around the world as a result of intentional transport there are more than by humans. In San Diego species of native bees. Bees are very Critical to the health of natural ornamental and agricultural landscapes while honey bees and social life live in hives and cooperate with one another, most of our native bees have solitary lives in wood or underground tunnels and do not make honey. Females bees mate then make a nest, collect pollen for their young, and lay eggs. Males bees live to mate and only pollinate when they visit flowers fox hectare to fuel their flight. California is recognized globally as an area of exceptional plant diversity containing a host of plants found nowhere else in the world. It is also the most important agricultural area in North America, producing half of the US supply of fruits, nuts, and vegetables at an annual value of $16.45 billion, and exporting $6.5 billion of food and agricultural commodities abroad. In 1997, honey bees alone were credited with contributing $4.2 billion to crop productivity in California. Finally, we explored the habitat relationships and resource needs of bee species by sampling bees on California native plants in six chaparral/oak woodland and riparian sites from January through October of 2001. In fact, we found all of them there 54% in both habitat types, 17% in riparian alone, and 29% in chaparral/oak woodland alone. This work could not have been completed without the assistance of the many farmers and ranchers in Yolo and Solano counties who permitted us access to their properties and provided us with invaluable information. During the past four years, it has been documented that California’s native bees make an important contribution to crop pollination. This contribution could become even more valuable as an “insurance policy” if honey bees become more scarce or fail altogether. In addition, bumblebee colonies produce only one reproductive generation per year, and thus only one nest is established per colony per season.

 

The honey bee’s global importance is further underscored when considering that it is but one of tens of thousands of pollinating species in the world, including wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and other bee species. Honey bees are native to Africa, the Middle East, and Southern Europe and have become naturalized in ecosystems around the world as a result of intentional transport by humans. Bumblebees move relatively slowly among flowers and are easy to recognize by their hairy chunky forms and yellow bands on their backs and abdomens. This is a group of medium to small elongate bees so named because of a tendency to alight on the skin and lap up sweat for moisture and salt.

 

More about bees...

An unprecedented study from around the globe has shown that honey bees are the world’s most important single species of pollinator in natural ecosystems and a key contributor to natural ecosystem functions. One out of eight interactions between a non-agricultural plant and a pollinator is carried out by the honey bee. The honey bee’s global importance is further underscored when considering that it is but one of tens of thousands of pollinating species in the world, including wasps, flies, beetles, butterflies, moths, and other bee species.

 

Why care about bees?

Bees are important as indicators of environmental quality, are key in the continued existence of our wildlands, vital to sustainable pollination of crops, and serve as food that supports a diversity of other species. In addition, bees are critical to the health of natural, ornamental, and agricultural landscapes.

 

Beyond the honey bee...

Honey bees are social, live in hives, and cooperate with one another, most of our native bees are solitary, live in wood or underground tunnels, and do not make honey. The hard-working females mate, make nests, collect pollen for their young, and lay eggs. Males live to mate and only pollinate inadvertently when they visit flowers for nectar to fuel their flight. Native bees come in various shapes and sizes from the somewhat intimidating Valley carpenter bee at one inch long to tiny sweat bees that are less than one-quarter inch.

 

Bees also tend to forage consistently on one plant species before returning to the nest to deposit their pollen loads. This behavioral fidelity enhances the chance that pollen will be transported from flower to flower of the same species, ensuring reproduction. Although male bees do not collect pollen, they too are often hairy and can transfer pollen as they visit flowers in search of nectar or mates. Over 4,000 species of bees occur in North America, and 1,500 are currently found in California (Thorp, observations). The vast majority of these bees are “solitary” species rather than the familiar social honey bees and bumblebees. Females of solitary species collect pollen, mold it into a pollen “loaf,” and seal it along with a single egg into a nest cavity.

 

Our work during the past four years has documented that California’s native bees make an important contribution to crop pollination. This contribution could become even more valuable as an “insurance policy” if honey bees become more scarce or fail altogether. We have also shown that all of these native bee species occur in wild habitats and show some degree of dependence on the native California flora.

 

Bees are major pollinators of Angiosperms and therefore their apparent decline is of importance for humans and biodiversity. We synthesize the results of 12 recent reviews to provide a global picture of the threats they face. Habitat loss is the major threat to bee diversity, whilst invasive species, emerging diseases, pesticide use, and climate change also have the potential to impact bee populations.

 

The western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is the most frequent floral visitor of crops worldwide, but quantitative knowledge of its role as a pollinator outside of managed habitats is largely lacking. Here we use a global dataset of 80 published plant-pollinator interaction networks as well as pollinator effectiveness measures from 34 plant species to assess the importance of A. mellifera in natural habitats.

 

Action is needed if we are to arrest and reverse current declines in bee populations, and thus safeguard their future biodiversity. Given that the first step – to halt land-use change – is economically and politically unlikely to occur, what can be done to minimize the biggest threat to bee biodiversity? One approach is to embed biodiversity maintenance within agricultural development; support your plants and bees at the same time!

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • instagram-icon_1057-2227