No Sweat....Just Pollen...

Look closely at a patch of California golden poppies and you may see a sweat bee (genus Halictus) collecting gold pollen. The pollen basket is on the hind legs but you'll see "gold" also dusting the head and abdomen.

Native bee, commonly known as "halictid bee." Native plant. In fact, the California golden poppy, Eschscholzia californica, is the state flower.

And the rumor that it's "protected" and you'll get arrested if you pick a poppy along a roadside is inaccurate.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife sets the record straight on its website:  "It is often believed that there are laws prohibiting the cutting or damaging of the California poppy because it is the state flower. While there is no law protecting the California poppy specifically, California Penal Code Section 384a(opens in new tab) requires written landowner permission to remove and sell plant material from land that a person does not own, and removing or damaging plants from property that a person does not own without permission may constitute trespass and/or petty theft. However, these laws do not prevent the collection of California poppies on private land by the landowner. California poppies are a beautiful and easy-to-grow addition to your garden, and although you may choose to pick them from your property, they last much longer in the ground!"

Want to learn more about native bees? California has some 1600 species of wild or non-managed bees. Be sure to read California Bees & Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists. It's the work of University of California authors, all with UC Berkeley connections: Gordon Frankie, now professor emeritus, UC Berkeley; Robbin Thorp (1933-2019), UC Davis distinguished emeritus professor who received his doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley; photographer Rollin Coville, who holds a doctorate in entomology from UC Berkeley, and Barbara Ertter, curator at the UC Berkeley-based  University Herbarium and Jepson Herbarium.

The Bohart Museum of Entomology is hosting an open house on bees, both wild and managed, from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, May 19 in Room 1124, Academic Surge Building, 455 Crocker Lane. It's free and family free.