Learn About Native Bees and the Flowers They Visit

Jun 13, 2014

It's just in time for National Pollinator Week, June 16-22.

Native bee enthusiast Celeste Ets-Hokin of the Bay Area is on a three-fold mission: She wants to protect North America's premier pollinators; she wants to inspire an appreciation for the importance and diversity of our native bees; and she wants people to create a habitat for native bees in their own gardens.

So, as an educational tool meant for all ages, Ets-Hokin originated the idea of a Wild Bee Gardens app to "show the dazzling diversity of North America's native bees." The app links native bees to many of the flowers they frequent.

The app is a comprehensive introduction to what the UC Berkeley zoology graduate calls "the essential world of native bees." It's comprised of some 300 photographs of native bees and their floral resources (primarily by entomologist/insect photographer Rollin Coville of the Bay Area) plus 100 pages "of extensive background and educational material in the form of guides."

Topics covered in the guides include:

  1. The role of native bees in our natural ecosystems
  2. The ecology and life cycles of native bees
  3. How to create a successful bee garden
  4. How to identify the native bee visitors that will appear in these gardens

Ets-Hokin wrote the text, obtaining answers to her questions from native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis (co-author of the newly published Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide) and UC Berkeley faculty members Gordon Frankie and Clare Kremen. They are acknowledged in the app for their contributions of scientific knowledge and research.

Ets-Hokin also praised the "amazing job" of the design and development team, Arlo and Rebecca Armstrong.

Where to get Wild Bee Gardens? The I-Pad version  is now available on the Apple App Store for the introductory price of $3.99. Those purchasing the app will receive the upcoming, expanded iPhone version at no additional cost, said Ets-Hokin, adding that they also will receive free downloads of all future enhancements.

Ets-Hokin devotes her time to the public awareness and conservation of native bees. This includes establishing a native bee demonstration garden with the Alameda County Master Gardeners at Lake Merritt, Oakland; and coordinating the publication of native bee calendars??.