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From the UC Blogosphere...

Feel the Buzz: Want to Become a Master Beekeeper?

Find the queen? This photo was taken in the apiary of Jackie Park-Burris Queens, Palo Cedro. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Want to feel the buzz? If you're a beekeeper and have kept bees for at least a year, you might want to become a Master...

Posted on Friday, May 27, 2016 at 3:54 PM

Christine Merlin: Why Those Monarchs Migrate When They Do

Texas A&M University biologist Christine Merlin examines a monarch. (Photo courtesy of Texas A&M University)

From her post at Texas A&M University, located at College Station, 90 miles northwest of Houston, Christine Merlin...

Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 3:54 PM

No Sweat? Yes, Sweat!

Sweat bees from the genus  Lasioglossum on an Iceland poppy. This image was taken with a NIkon D800 with a 60mm macro lens. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Ever seen a mob of tiny sweat bees? The bees below, from the genus Lasioglossum  (as identified by native pollinator...

Posted on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 5:13 PM

Daily Life For Master Gardeners

Shopper's Remorse

By Andrea Peck


Mail order is all the rage right now. It's so simple; you order what you want and it arrives on your doorstep contained in an oversized box and excess packaging. If you're really lucky you'll get bubble wrap. But, have you thought about ordering plants this way?

Apparently there is a whole plant market out there in cyberspace. You can virtually order any plant you like. We can all picture the scene: you are sitting alone in the dark of night, the glowing light of the computer screen is the only illumination in the room.  You find the plant of your dreams. It's on Ebay. Maybe Amazon. The tiny picture gives away very little. Despite this you are convinced that your garden must possess this novel plant. Still, you pause. You notice that the vendor is located across the globe. Will your exotic grow in your microclimate? The price is enticingly low. (must be Ebay). But, here it is, after midnight—there are no rules. Impulse shopping seems like the very thing you need to do if only to feel like you have done something so that you can get back to bed and get some rest. You press the purchase button.

Sounds innocuous right?

Most of the time it is. In fact, let's face it, sending plants and seeds by mail is nothing new. There are large companies that make a fortune by tempting you with glossy, surely Photoshopped images that make you think you can smell the leaves upon the page. This is standard operating procedure.

There are times, however, that ordering a plant online can potentially cause havoc. This recent article describes the increasingly problematic occurrence of selling plants over the internet. Apparently, a number of vendors are selling invasive plants despite the fact that they are banned. Invasive plants not only pose a significant threat to the environment, but are often illegal to sell or purchase.

Banning the sale of invasive plants makes sense when you consider the threat that they impose. One notorious aquatic plant, giant salvinia, or kariba-weed, is capable of doubling in size every 8 to 10 days. The plant is so compact and thick that it basically smothers out sunlight and oxygen, killing the animals and plant life that live beneath it. Despite this, it has been sold recently through internet vendors. Generally, plants such as these are sold as aquarium or container species. Their ability to proliferate and grow easily is certainly a selling point.  Whether online shopkeepers understand the ramifications of what they are selling—and the illegal aspect of it—remains to be seen.

When you consider the vastness of the internet, it's not difficult to see how containment of sales could present a problem. But, it is the inability to thoroughly regulate online sales that makes the job truly invasive. Considering the resources available to us, however, it does seem that these large online companies would find a simple way to monitor what is sold.

Until then, the impetus must depend on the consumer. Ultimately, it is the buyer who stands to lose his money—and much more. For more information I've included a link to the in Department of Agriculture's invasive species information site:    https://www.invasivespeciesinfo.gov/index.shtml



Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 8:06 PM

Taking Possession of the Lavender

A black-faced bumble bee, Bombus californicus, stretches between two lavender stems as a honey bee moves in to gather nectar. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Possession is nine-tenths of the law. It also applies to bees foraging on lavender. A black-faced bumble bee (Bombus...

Posted on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 5:39 PM

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