Public Release:  Haagen-Dazs gift to support Penn State honeybee research

Penn State

A Sausalito-based team created a series of interconnected gardens with such names as "Honeycomb Hideout," "Nectar Nook" and "Pollinator Patch" to win the international bee-friendly garden design competition, a gift to the University of California, Davis, from the Häagen-Dazs® brand.

The design, the work of landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki, will be brought to life this summer on a half-acre site at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road on the UC Davis campus.

Sibbett is a principal with the Sibbett Group; Baker is a senior landscape architect with RRM Design Group; and Kurotaki is an independent design consultant and an exhibit designer who works for RRM Design Group. Last December Häagen-Dazs ice cream committed $125,000 to the UC Davis Department of Entomology for the garden project. This encompasses site planning, preparation and the design competition.

The key goals of the garden are to provide bees with a year-around food source, to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees and to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own.

"We'll not only be providing a pollen and nectar source for the millions of bees on Bee Biology Road, but we will also be demonstrating the beauty and value of pollinator gardens," said design competition coordinator Melissa "Missy" Borel, program manager for the California Center for Urban Horticulture. "My hope is that it will inspire everyone to plant for pollinators!"

"The winning design fits beautifully with the campus mission of education and outreach, and it will tremendously benefit our honeybees at Bee Biology," said Lynn Kimsey, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology. "The garden will be a campus destination."

Kimsey served as one of eight judges who unanimously selected the design from among 30 entries, submitted from as far away as England. The winning team will be honored at the garden dedication in October, where they will be presented with an engraved name plaque. They will also be given the sweet reward of free Häagen-Dazs ice cream for a year.

"We had so many wonderful garden concepts submitted that making the final choice was really difficult," Kimsey said.

The Sausalito team's design zeroed in on sustainability and visitor experience. The four interconnected gardens, "Honeycomb Hideout," "Nectar Nook," "Pollinator Patch" and "My Backyard" form the "physical and interpretive framework for our honey bee haven design," the authors said. A series of trails connect the gardens. Trellises define the entry ways and reinforce the passage to the next space.

"Incorporated into each of the four sections are gathering spaces that serve as orientation points for guided tours, facilitated programs and 'chat time' with beekeepers and entomologists," the team explained. Identification labels will help visitors know more about the plants, or what they can plant in their own yards.

The design also includes a "Learning Center" building and paths labeled "Orchard Alley," "Save the Bee Sanctuary," "Round Dance Circle" and "Waggle Dance Way."

Judges initially narrowed the 30 designs to six, and then focused on diversity (the winning design has 40 different plants), bloom balance, vision, generational learning, cost feasibility and attention to detail. Judges also declared the team's design as "the most river or environmentally-friendly."

In addition to Borel and Kimsey, the panel of judges included: David Fujino, executive director, California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis; Aaron Majors, construction department manager, Cagwin & Dorward Landscape Contractors, based in Novato; Diane McIntyre, senior public relations manager, Häagen-Dazs ice cream; Heath Schenker, professor of environmental design, UC Davis; Jacob Voit, sustainability manager and construction project manager, Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology.

Schenker praised the winning design as "beautiful and very functional." "The interpretive elements are imaginative," said Schenker. "I think this design team has a great range of expertise and has taken a very well-rounded approach to the program."

Majors said the cost estimate was well organized and the cost of materials very realistic. "The introduction outlined how the design was scalable which shows the collaborative approach of the four-person team and their willingness to work with budget," he said.

Honey bees pollinate more than 100 different U.S. agricultural crops, valued at $15 billion. However, in recent years, the nation's beekeepers have reported losing from one-third to all of their bees due to a mysterious phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

In response, the Häagen-Dazs brand launched the "Häagen-Dazs Loves Honey Bees" campaign in February 2008, committing a total $250,000 donation for bee research to UC Davis and Pennsylvania State University, and redoubled its efforts in 2009 with a second $250,000 donation, bringing the brand's total donation for honey bee research to a half million dollars. It also formed a scientific advisory Bee Board, created an educational Web site and introduced the new Vanilla Honey Bee ice cream flavor. Bees are crucial to nearly 50 percent of their all-natural flavors.

During the last several months, the public has answered the Häagen-Dazs brand's call to action by donating more than $30,000 to support additional honey bee research at UC Davis. In addition, numerous companies have launched programs to donate a portion of their proceeds to UC Davis honey bee research.

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