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Davis, California

Friday, February 23, 2024

Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven

What is it and what does it do?

The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven (called The Haven) is an outdoor museum and demonstration garden that is part of UC Davis’ entomology and nematology department. Located on Bee Biology Road, the public can observe and learn about bees’ roles in nature and about what they can do to help the bee population. The Haven was established in 2009 by the ice cream company Häagen-Dazs on the UC Davis campus.

“The facility was established because Häagen-Dazs recognized that many of the ingredients in their ice cream (the fruits and the nuts) were dependent on bee pollinators,” said Christine Casey, the manager of the facility. “They had heard about Colony Collapse Disorder and health issues with bees and wanted to provide a forum for the public to learn about bees and their problems and learn what they can do to be a part of the solution.”

Häagen-Dazs provided funding to establish the garden and financial support for the first few years of operation. Casey noted that the Haven is now self-supporting through grants and donations.

“They also gave some money to Penn State,” Casey said. “Penn State did not establish an independent garden like this one; they established a garden that was a part of their arboretum.”

Casye explained that the uniqueness of the garden resides in its being part of the entomology department and is operated by the people who work with bees and do bee research.

“As far as I know, we are the only bee garden in the United States run by entomologists that is open to the public free of charge, all the time,” Casey said.

The land The Haven was planted on is filled with labeled shrubbery and flowers. Hundreds of bees buzz in and around these flowers as they perform their biological niches. Maintenance occurs on the garden daily by Casey herself and volunteers with tasks including pruning, planting, mulching and weeding. Some volunteers who have experience in beekeeping assist Casey in taking care of the beehive as well.

“There are so many different types of bees and so many different types of plants that from week to week, things can look quite different,” Casey said. “There are about 85 species of bees that have been observed here, and there are about 300 that occur in Yolo County.”

The Haven functions to educate the public about the importance of bees in our daily lives, most prominently in our nutrition. According to their website, “bees are responsible for about ⅓ of all the food we eat, including most of the fruits, nuts, and vegetables […] Bees also pollinate many of our wild plants that in turn provide food and habitat for other wildlife.” Each day, about five to 10 groups come visit and tour the garden to learn about what it does. Visitors can safely observe and interact with bees and identify them.

Because nearly half of the maintenance that occurs on the facility is done by volunteers, The Haven welcomes students who would like to be involved in its efforts with the bee population and education of the public. More information on volunteering and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven as a whole can be found on its website.

Written by: Linh Nguyen – features@theaggie.org


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