Internationally known honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, drew a rousing, standing ovation on Jan. 12 at the 75th annual American Beekeeping Federation's conference in Reno.
ABF president Gene Brandi of Los Banos, who presented him with the plaque, praised him as a outstanding liaison between the academic world of apiculture and real world beekeeping and crop pollination.
Considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, Mussen was known as the “pulse on the bee industry” and as "the go-to person" for consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media. Mussen retired in 2014 but continues answering bee questions. As an emeritus, he maintains an office in Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The ABF is a 4700-member national organization dedicated to ensuring the future of the honey bee, Brandi said. The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees, headed by president Joan Gunter of Towner, N.D., is a charitable research and education foundation that aims to preserve and protect honey bees.
Mussen, recipient of numerous state and national awards, has been described as the “premier authority on bees and pollination in California, and is one of the top beekeeping authorities nationwide" and “a treasure to the beekeeping industry... he is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to honey bees."
Mussen served as a longtime board member of the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) and a consultant for the Almond Board of California. He co-founded the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), serving six terms as president, the last one during the 40th anniversary meeting at UC Davis in 2017. He also was involved in the formation of the American Association of Professional Apiculturists (AAPA) and held the offices of president or treasurer of that association for many years.
Mussen was instrumental in the development of the Almond Board of California's Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds. The Almond Board earlier honored him with a service award, describing him as being an “authoritative and trusted source for guidance on research, technical, and practical problem solving and issues facing both industries.”
Shortly after he retired, both the CSBA and WAS created an Eric Mussen Honorary Award to present to its outstanding members.
For 38 years, Mussen wrote and published the bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and short, topical articles called Bee Briefs, providing beekeepers with practical information on all aspects of beekeeping. His research focused on managing honey bees and wild bees for maximum field production, while minimizing pesticide damage to pollinator populations
During his tenure as Extension apiculturist, Mussen traveled to beekeeping clubs throughout the state, addressing some 20 beekeeping organizations a year. For the last 10 years, Mussen conducted the California State 4-H Bee Essay Contest, disseminating guidelines, collecting entries and chairing the judging.
A native of Schenectady, N.Y., Mussen credits his grandfather with sparking his interest in insects. His grandfather, a self-taught naturalist, would take his young grandson to the woods to point out flora and fauna. As a child, “my only concern was what if, by the time I went to college and became an entomologist, everything we wanted to know about insects was known,” Mussen related.
Mussen turned down a football scholarship at Harvard to attend the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in entomology. This is also where he met Helen, his wife of 48 years. He holds a master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul. His doctoral research focused on the epidemiology of a viral disease of larval honey bees, sacbrood virus.
His activities could fill a book. (See more on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website.)
Suffice it to say that Mussen is, and always has been, pro-bee. "I am basically all pro-bee; whatever I can do for bees, I do it,” Mussen told the American Bee Journal in a two-part interview published in 2011. “It doesn't matter whether there is one hive in the backyard or 15,000 colonies. Bees are bees and the bees' needs are the bees' needs.”
The nationally awarded plaque “bee-speaks” of his work.
If you've been looking for that cabbage white butterfly in the three-area county of Sacramento, Yolo and Solano to win UC Davis Professor Art Shapiro's "Beer for a Butterfly" contest, there's still hope.
Shapiro hasn't found it, either.
Butterflies aren't flying due to the elements: the rain, the cold and the fog.
Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology launched the "Beer for a Butterfly" contest back in 1972 as part of his scientific research. If you collect the first cabbage white butterfly (Pieris rapae) of the year, you can trade "the bug for suds."
Shapiro is offering a pitcher of beer (or its equivalent) for the first cabbage white butterfly collected in 2018 in any one of the three counties. “Since 1972, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20,” he says.
The butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. What does it look like? It's a white butterfly with black dots on the upperside (which may be faint or not visible in the early season). It inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow. The male is white. The female is often slightly buffy; the "underside of the hindwing and apex of the forewing may be distinctly yellow and normally have a gray cast,” Shapiro said. “The black dots and apical spot on the upperside tend to be faint or even to disappear really early in the season.”
In its caterpillar stage, Pieris rapae is a pest. (See cabbageworm on the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program website.)
Meanwhile, the contest rules include:
- It must be an adult (no caterpillars or pupae) and be captured outdoors.
- It must be brought in alive to the department office, 2320 Storer Hall, UC Davis, during work hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with the full data (exact time, date and location of the capture) and your name, address, phone number and/or e-mail. The receptionist will certify that it is alive and refrigerate it. (If you collect it on a weekend or holiday, keep it in a refrigerator; do not freeze. A few days in the fridge will not harm it.)
- Shapiro is the sole judge.
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days of the year, monitoring butterflies of central California (see his website), knows where to find the cabbage whites and usually wins the contest. He has been defeated only four times since 1972--and all by UC Davis graduate students.
The professor collects many of the winners in mustard patches near railroad tracks in West Sacramento, Yolo County. Over the last eight years, five came from West Sacramento; two in Davis, Yolo County; and one in Suisun, Solano County.
The dates and locations:
- 2017: Jan. 19: Art Shapiro collected the winner on the UC Davis campus
- 2016: Jan. 16: Jacob Montgomery, UC Davis graduate student, collected the winner in west Davis
- 2015: Jan. 26: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2014: Jan. 14: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2013: Jan. 21: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2012: Jan. 8: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
- 2011: Jan. 31: Shapiro collected the winner in Suisun, Solano County
- 2010: Jan. 27: Shapiro collected the winner in West Sacramento
The search continues!
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis, is in butterfly heaven.
And even more so now--he just returned from a collecting trip to Belize with his colleagues and brought back some 700 to 800 Lepidoptera specimens.
Smith will be among those presenting at the Bohart Museum's open house on "Bug-Art@The Bohart" from 1 to 4 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 21. The event, free and open to the public, will include art displays, sketching demonstrations; coloring of dragonfly images, and other insect-art interests, including an insect tattoo contest and an insect-themed attire contest.
How large is the Bohart's Lepidoptera collection? It has now reached about half a million, estimates Smith, a longtime volunteer honored with a UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences' "Friend of the College" award. "I believe I spread over 4,000 specimens from an August 2017 trip to Belize, and brought back maybe 700-800 more from this recent Belize trip, so the numbers continue to grow."
Specifically, what's on tap for the Bohart open house? UC Davis entomology major and artist Karissa Merritt will demonstrate how to sketch insects.
Other art featured will be that of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who moved to Davis and worked for UC Davis entomology faculty; Lynn Siri Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology; and Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis entomology alumni/artists Ivana Li and Nicole Tam. An exhibit of "insect wedding photography" images by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey is also planned.
Visitors will be invited to sketch insects. If you're not artistically inclined, you can color the images of dragonflies from a coloring book by dragonfly expert/author Kathy Claypole Biggs and illustrator Tim Manolis.
The open house will definitely be interactive! Attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly site).
Also on Jan. 21, insect/art enthusiasts are invited to view the unique exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room 124 of Cruess Hall. The exhibit, which continues through April 22 (the event is free and open on weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. and on Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.) features the work of faculty and graduate students from the Department of Design; specimens from the Bohart Museum; and insect photography by UC Davis alumnus Alex Wild, curator of entomology, University of Texas, Austin.
World-renowned for its global collection of nearly eight million specimens, the Bohart Museum also maintains a live “petting zoo,” featuring walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids, and tarantulas. A gift shop, open year around, offers T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy. The Bohart's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. For more information, contact the firstname.lastname@example.org or access the website or Facebook page.
Sunday afternoon, Jan. 21 promises to be a day of inspiration, creativity and delight when the Bohart Museum of Entomology hosts an open house, "Bug-Art@The Bohart" from 1 to 4 p.m. in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building, Crocker Lane.
On the other side of campus, the Design Museum exhibition, It's Bugged: Insects' Role in Design will be open from 2 to 4 p.m. in Room 124 of Cruess Hall, off California Avenue.
At the Bohart, UC Davis undergradauate student and artist Karissa Merritt will be on-hand sketching insects for all to see, said Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator. Other activities/focal points at the open house:
- Art display from the collection of the late Mary Foley Bensen, a former Smithsonian Institution scientific illustrator who lived the last years of her life in Davis, and who worked for entomology faculty
- Art display from Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology, who illustrated under her maiden name Lynn Siri
- Art display by Charlotte Herbert, Ph.D. student; and UC Davis alumnus Ivana Li and Nicole Tam, who hold degrees in entomology from UC Davis
- Exhibit of "insect wedding photography" by Bohart associates Greg Kareofelas and Kathy Keatley Garvey
Open house attendees are invited to wear insect-themed attire, including dresses, ties, and jewelry. A contest will take place at 3 p.m. for the best insect-themed outfit, and for the best insect-themed tattoo (tattoo must be in a family friendly location).
Entomologist Jeff Smith, who curates the butterfly and moth collection at the Bohart and is newly returned from a collecting trip to Belize, will be on hand to show the Bohart collection.
At the Design Museum, among the work that visitors can view are the beetle gallery sculptures and hornet nest paper art of Ann Savageau, professor emeritus of the Department of Design; bee, butterfly and beetle specimens from the Bohart Museum; and images by UC Davis alumnus and noted insect photographer Alex Wild, curator of entomology at the University of Texas, Austin. Wild received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 2005, studying with major professor Phil Ward.
The Bohart Museum houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, praying mantids and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold some of the arthropods and photograph them. The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum holds special open houses throughout the academic year. Its regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free. More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or emailing email@example.com or Tabatha Yang at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The department launched the seminars Wednesday, Jan. 10 with epidemiologist Amy Morrison of Iquitos, Peru, discussing dengue.
The seminars will continue through March 14. All will take place on Wednesdays from 4:10 to 5 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, Kleiber Hall Drive.
Next up: UC Davis alumnus Fiona Goggin, a member of the entomology faculty, University of Arkansas, will present a seminar on “Molecular and Phenomic Approaches to Study Plant Defenses Against Insects and Nematodes” from 4:10 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 17 in 122 Briggs Hall.
Goggin, who received her doctorate from UC Davis and her bachelor's degree from Cornell University, focuses her research program on plant defenses against herbivory, with emphasis on mechanisms of resistance against vascular feeders such as aphids and root-knot nematodes.
The list of speakers:
Jan. 17: Fiona Goggin, professor of entomology, University of Arkansas and a UC Davis alumnus. Topic: “Molecular and Phenomic Approaches to Study Plant Defenses against Insects and Nematodes."
Jan. 24: David Gonthier, postdoctoral fellow, Clare Kremen lab, UC Berkeley. Topic: to be announced. His primary research objective is to understand the importance of biodiversity across natural and managed ecosystems.
Jan. 31: Amanda Hodson, UC Davis postdoctoral fellow and assistant professional researcher with Louise Jackson's Soil Ecology Lab, UC Davis. Topic: "Molecular Detection and Integrated Management of Plant Parasitic Nematodes." Her research interests include soil ecology, integrated pest management and ecological intensification of agricultural systems.
Feb. 2: Marm Kilpatrick, assistant professor, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, UC Santa Cruz. Topic: to be announced. He studies ecology of infectious diseases and population biology. His research "unites theory and empirical work to address basic and applied questions on the ecology of infectious diseases as well as population biology, evolution, climate, behavior, genetics, and conservation."
Feb. 21: Kerry Mauck, assistant professor of entomology, UC Riverside. Topic: to be announced. She studies insect vector behavior, plant-pathogen interactions, chemical ecology, and integrated disease management.
Feb. 28: Candidates for nematology position. (Pending)
March 3: John Tooker, associate professor of entomology and Extension specialist, Department of Entomology, Pennsylvania State. Topic: to be announced. His areas of expertise include insect ecology, plant-insect interactions, conservation biological control, chemical ecology and gall insects.
March 7: Alvaro Acosta-Serrano, senior lecturer, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Topic: to be announced. His research focuses on fundamental aspects of the biology of kinetoplastid parasites and their vectors, and on developing molecular tools to control and prevent parasite transmission in disease-endemic areas.