- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
How about almond, yellow starthistle, leatherwood, cultivated buckwheat, safflower and wild oak?
Those are the varieties that will be offered by Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology at Briggs Hall on Saturday, April 12 during the 100th annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day.
Mussen will be offering honey tasting to one and all--come one, come all--from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. And it's free. You grab a toothpick, poke it in the honey dish, and enjoy.
Folks don't usually like the bitter taste of almond, Mussen says. That's why you won't find it sold in stores. His favorite? Starthistle. It's an invasive weed, but don't tell that to the bees. They love it.
It's also a good time to ask Mussen about honey bees and check out the glassed-in bee observation hive in 122 Briggs. There you can look for the queen (she's the one with a number on her thorax) and watch the colony at work. In addition, the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is planning scores of educational displays and fun activities. You can learn what an insect is--how it differs from spiders and other critters. You can create maggot art, follow the termite trails and "bet" at the cockroach races. You can learn about forensic, medical, aquatic, apiculture and forest entomology. Like pollinators? Learn about the major pollinators in your backyard. Like fly fishing? Tie a fly.
At the Bohart Museum of Entomology, home of nearly eight million insect specimens, you can see insects have been recently discovered and insects that are threatened and extinct. You can also hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks (live!) in your hand.
All in all, it plans to be a fun day for picnickers who love bugs--or want to learn more about them and what they do.