Bees, Butterflies, and Other Insect Pollinators

March 26, 2009

Insects have fascinating lives and behaviors most of us never notice. But if you spend even 15 minutes watching bees or butterflies, you’re sure to be drawn into their worlds and want to know more about them. Here are some places to see them and resources for learning about them.


Oxford Tract Bee Garden
Open to the public as part of the free Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour on Sunday, May 3, in 2009, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Created by UC Berkeley’s Dr. Gordon Frankie and his students and colleagues, this garden serves as a lovely experiment in attracting bees from the surrounding area of central Berkeley. Begun as part of a project to understand whether Bay Area urban cities support substantial bee populations despite human development, the garden is also an outreach tool for advising gardeners, teachers, and other urbanites on planning their own gardens to encourage bees and other flower visitors.

Coyote Hills Regional Park Nectar Garden
8000 Patterson Ranch Rd., Fremont
(510) 795-9385
Open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Located adjacent to the visitor center, this garden is designed to attract birds and butterflies. Several naturalist-led educational programs are offered in the garden during the year, along with an annual Butterfly and Bird Festival, on April 25 in 2009.

Peralta Community Garden
Corner of Peralta Ave. and Hopkins St., Berkeley
Open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in good weather.

The artful Peralta Community Garden primarily contains 30 individual vegetable plots. It also includes an extensive collection of plants native to the East Bay and others from throughout California, including a remarkable collection of native bulbs. This garden attracts the greatest diversity of native bees of any garden studied by UC Berkeley native bee expert Dr. Gordon Frankie.

Green Hairstreak Corridor Walks
April 12, 26, May 9, 2009, 1 p.m.
Beginning at 14th Ave. and Rivera St., San Francisco
$10 suggested donation, no one turned away for lack of funds
RSVP required: (415) 564-4107 – walks

Liam O’Brien and Dierdre Elmansoumi lead easy walks (less than 1 mile) to explore the green hairstreak butterfly’s habitat in natural areas as well as streetscape plantings of its host plants. The walks will follow the green hairstreak butterfly corridor in San Francisco from the south (14th Ave. and Rivera St.) to the north (Grand View Park).



Birds & Butterflies–Easy Garden Enchantment
Four Tuesday lectures, April 14 – May 5, 2009, 7 – 9 p.m., plus one Saturday field trip, May 2, 2009, 8:45 – 10:45 a.m.
$40 plus $5 materials fee
Online registration: or

Corinne Greenberg shows how to welcome the birds, butterflies, and other beneficial critters into your garden. Be captivated by the beauty of native plants and learn year-round ecological gardening tips through slide shows and lessons on natural history and easy garden management.

Bay-Friendly Gardening: Go Native–Planting for Pollinators
Saturday, April 18, 2009, 9 a.m – 12 pm
Marin Art and Garden Center, 30 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Ross
Advance registration required:
(415) 455-5271

Attract birds, butterflies, and beneficial insects, and learn to diversify your garden by including California native plants that provide food, shelter, and nesting places for wildlife.

Butterflies in the City and the Sticks
Four Tuesday classes, 7 – 8 p.m., starting May 5, 2009, plus four Saturday field trips starting May 9, 2009
Online registration:, or

This class with instructor Sally Levinson will cover identification, life cycles, butterfly gardening, photography, and caterpillar rearing. On field trips, participants will look for field marks, behavior, and favored plants.

Pollinator Paradise: An Introduction to Native Bees and Pollination Ecology
Saturday, June 6, 2009, 1 – 4 p.m.
Regional Parks Botanic Garden Visitor Center, Wildcat Canyon Road and S. Park Drive, in Tilden Regional Park, Berkeley
$35 garden members/$40 nonmembers
Advance registration required: or (510) 528-0526 (days)

Instructor K. Ruby will provide an overview of pollination ecology with a focus on native bees. Topics include pollinator syndromes, plant strategies, bee life cycles, and bee taxonomy, as well as the dangers facing pollinators, how native bees protect biodiversity, and ways to support pollinator diversity in your urban or suburban garden. On a tour of the garden the class will explore plant-pollinator interaction, see native bees at work, and learn how scientists observe and monitor pollinator activity.




Urban Bee Gardens website
This is THE source of information about native bees in urban Berkeley and the surrounding area, complied by UC Berkeley native bee expert Dr. Gordon Frankie and his students.

Bees in Berkeley? Frankie, G.W. et al., Fremontia 30:3&4, 50-58, July-October 2002.
Report of a survey conducted by Dr. Gordon Frankie and his colleagues on urban bee populations and host flowers in Berkeley and Albany, CA.

The Bumblebee Queen (for ages 4-8). Text by April Pulley Sayre, illustrations by Patricia J. Wynne, Charlesbridge Publishing, 2006.
This story follows a female bumblebee as she finds a nest, gathers nectar, lays eggs, and tends her colony through spring, summer, and fall.

Farming for Bees: Guidelines for Providing Native Bee Habitat on Farms. Mace Vaughan, Matthew Shepherd, Claire Kremen, and Scott Hoffman Black.
Download a free PDF or order the full-color printed version: $10 Xerces Society members, $15 nonmembers (both from the Xerces Society store:
This updated booklet outlines ways to protect and enhance habitat for native crop pollinators in the farm landscape. It includes advice on simple changes that can be made in farm management for the benefit of native bees, as well as how to create important habitat features.

Making Room for Native Pollinators: How to Create Habitat for Pollinator Insects on Golf Courses. Matthew Shepherd and the Xerces Society, U.S. Golf Association, 2002.
Download a free PDF or order the full-color printed version: $7.50 Xerces Society members, $10 nonmembers (both from the Xerces Society store:
Maintaining pollinator populations is one of the most valuable ways in which a golf course can contribute to a healthy environment. These guidelines offer tips for providing habitat for native bees.

Native Pollinators: How to Protect and Enhance Habitat for Native Bees. Mace Vaughan and Scott Hoffman Black, Native Plants Journal, Summer 2008.
How to foster bees by observing, protecting, and enhancing nesting sites and year-round sources of pollen and nectar.

Study reveals desires of bees, native and non. Ron Sullivan and Joe Eaton, SF Chronicle, March 21, 2007.
From the research of UC Berkeley native bee expert Gordon Frankie and UC Davis butterfly expert Art Shapiro, here are some plant preferences of native bees and butterflies.

Yerba Buena Nursery: Bay Area Native Bees
Results of a study hosted by Yerba Buena Nursery in Woodside on bees native to the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.



Nature in the City Green Hairstreak Project
Internet home of the project to restore the ecological corridor of the locally rare Green Hairstreak Butterfly in San Francisco.

Art Shapiro’s Butterfly Site
This website describes over 34 years of data collected by Dr. Arthur Shapiro, professor of Evolution and Ecology at UC Davis, in his continuing effort to regularly monitor butterfly populations across central California.

Basics of Butterfly Gardening. Ann B. Swengel, North American Butterfly Association, 1995.
Download a free PDF at
Regional butterfly gardening brochures for many parts of the country, including the Bay Area.

Butterflies and Ecosystem Management. Ann B. Swengel, North American Butterfly Association, 2003.
Download a free PDF at
What matters to butterflies in habitat management?

Butterflies and Moths of North America: Checklists
Searchable website featuring occurrence maps (by county within California), species accounts, checklists, and photographs of butterflies in the U.S. and Mexico.

Butterfly Gardening. Phil Van Soelen.
Extensive lists of native nectar and larval host plants for California butterflies.

Butterfly Gardening: Creating Summer Magic in Your Garden, 2nd edition. Xerces Society, Smithsonian Institution, Sierra Club Books, 1999.
This book on attracting butterflies and moths to your garden includes appendices of larval host and nectar plants.

California Native Plants that Attract Butterflies, Friends of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden
A detailed list of California native plants that attract butterflies, divided into plants that attract nectar-feeding adult butterflies and those that provide food for butterfly larvae.

Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions. Arthur M. Shapiro and Tim Manolis, UC Press, 2007.
Comprehensive field guide for both beginning and experienced butterfly watchers with up-to-date information on all of the butterfly species found in the Bay and Sacramento Valley areas. Includes information about butterfly natural history, conservation status, biology, photography, and more.

Straight Talk about Butterfly Habitat Management. Ann B. Swengel, North American Butterfly Association, 2003.
Download a free PDF at
Butterfly life cycles and how they relate to habitat management and gardening.

Tips for Making Caterpillars and Butterflies Feel Welcome in Your Yard (Berkeley)
A detailed list of plants (native and not) fed on by caterpillars in Berkeley and vicinity, including both larval host plants and nectar plants.

Top Butterfly Nectar Flowers: Bay Area, California. Barbara Deutsch and Sally Levinson, North American Butterfly Association.
Download a free PDF at
Guide to mostly native butterfly nectar flowers for Bay Area gardens as well as caterpillar food plants for Bay Area butterflies.



Resources for identifying and learning about insects of the San Francisco Bay area, including many photographs.

The Forgotten Pollinators. Stephen L. Buchmann and Gary Paul Nabhan, Island Press, 1997.
The first, and still the most important, major general-audience book to address the importance of the interaction between insects and plants and how modern developments are threatening this essential process.

The Habitat Garden Book: Wildlife Landscaping for the San Francisco Bay Region. Nancy Bauer, Coyote Ridge Press, 2001.
Clear and compact beginner’s guide to native and non-native plants that attract birds, bees, butterflies, and beneficial insects.

Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology. Eric Grissell, Timber Press, 2006.
A thorough introduction to the biology and ecology of insects commonly found in North American gardens, as well as a guide to principles of ecologically sound gardening.

Pollinator Conservation Handbook: A Guide to Understanding, Protecting, and Providing Habitat for Native Pollinator Insects. Matthew Shepherd, Stephen L. Buchmann, Mace Vaughan, and Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society, 2003.
A comprehensive guide for homeowners, educators, city park managers, and public land managers on how to provide, enhance, and manage habitat for pollinator insects.

Pollinators in Natural Areas: A Primer on Habitat Management. Scott Hoffman Black, Nathan Hodges, Mace Vaughan, and Matthew Shepherd, The Xerces Society.
Download a free PDF or order the full-color printed version: $2.50 Xerces Society members, $5 nonmembers (both from the Xerces Society store:
This primer provides a summary of how land and wildlife managers can account for the habitat needs of pollinators, with information about how tools such as fire, grazing, mowing, herbicides, and insecticides can be adjusted to benefit pollinators.

Pollinator-Friendly Parks: How to Enhance Parks and Greenspaces for Native Pollinator Insects. Matthew Shepherd, Mace Vaughan, and Scott Hoffman Black, Xerces Society.
Download for free or order in print (for a small fee):
Practical advice about providing habitat for native bees and butterflies in all types of parks and greenspaces, including lists of host plants for caterpillars, advice on choosing plants that offer nectar and pollen, and creating nest sites for solitary bees.

Xerces Society Pollinator Gardens Page
How to enhance habitat for pollinators in gardens and other managed landscapes.

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