Educational and Fun Activities at the UC Davis Bee Haven Open House

Catch and release. Release and catch.

No, wait. Catch...examine...and then release.

That's what attendees will do at the UC Davis Bee Haven's 15th anniversary celebration, set from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 6 on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.

They'll be using a bee vacuum device to scoop up a honey bee, carpenter bee, bumble bee or other pollinator for close observation.

The half-acre garden is located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Research Facility. Both are part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.

The open house, free and family friendly, will include a tour of the garden at 11 a.m.; catch-and-release bee activity to observe bees up close; information about low-water plants; and presentations on University of California pollinator research.

The haven is open daily from dawn to dusk (no admission). It is described as "a unique outdoor museum that provides resources for local bee pollinators, inspires and educates visitors to create pollinator habitat gardens, and provides a site for the observation and study of bees and the plants that support them."

Director of the garden is Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension - Apiculture, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Christine Casey is the manager, the academic program management officer.

Workers installed the garden in the fall of 2009, under the tenure of interim department chair Lynn Kimsey, now UC Davis distinguished professor emerita, and with primary funds from the Häagen-Dazs ice cream brand.  Featuring a series of interconnected gardens with names like “Honeycomb Hideout,” “Nectar Nook” and “Pollinator Patch,” it was designed to provide the Laidlaw honey bees with a year-around food source, raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, and serve as a research site.

A six-foot worker bee sculpture of ceramic and mosaic anchors the garden. It's the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis.  UC Davis distinguished professor Diane Ullman and Billick co-founded and directed the UC Davis Art-Science Fusion Program, and their art and that of Ullman's entomology students, as well as members of the community and other volunteers, are showcased throughout the garden.