Bugs at the Bohart and Briggs.
That would be the Bohart Museum of Entomology and Briggs Hall. Both buildings will be the site of many insect-related activities planned by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology at the 103rd annual campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day on Saturday, April 22.
You can BYOB (Bring Your Own Bug) and have it identified by the Bug Doctor at Briggs Hall or at the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building.
The doctor is always in! And these insect-science docs like to be "bugged."
Do you like honey bees? Who doesn't? At Briggs Hall, you can see the queen, worker bees and drones in an observation hive. And you can sample honey. Many varietals of honey.
Like to hold insects? You can hold Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks at the Bohart Museum. Bring your camera and be sure to take a selfie!
There's also an insect scavenger hunt at Briggs, said Brendon Boudinot, chair of the department's Picnic Day Committee. Visitors will search for and identify insects in display boxes and be rewarded with stickers.
The campuswide Picnic Day gets underway at 9:30 a.m. with an opening ceremony by the grandstands on North Quad Ave., across from Wickson Hall. The parade starts at 10 a.m. from the same site. Announcement locations are at 2nd and D streets in downtown Davis; F Street in front of PDQ Fingerprinting, and 3rd and C streets in downtown Davis. The UC Davis Entomology Club, advised by forensic entomologist Bob Kimsey, will enter its popular black widow float.
The Briggs Hall activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the cockroach races will close at 2 p.m.
The list of activities at Briggs:
- Honey Tasting (You can sample varietals of honey)
- Bug Doctor (The doctor is in!)
- Cockroach Races (Pick a winner.)
- Scavenger Hunt (Do you know your insects?)
- Dr. Death (Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will answer your questions)
- Insect Face Painting (Get a bee, lady beetle or another insect painted on your face)
- Little Swimmers and Fly Tying (Watch and identify aquatic insects, a project from the Sharon Lawler lab, and learn "how to tie a fly" from the Fly Fishers of Davis
- Maggot Art (Dip a maggot into a water-based, non-toxic paint and create a painting suitable for framing)
- UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) (See their many publications and ask questions; youngsters can receive a vial of free lady beetles, aka ladybugs. Also planned: pipevine swallowtails)
- T-shirt sales by the UC Davis Entomology Graduate Students' Association (popular t-shirts include beetles and honey bees)
- Social insects, insect forestry, medical entomology, and more
The Bohart Museum of Entomology in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building will swing open its doors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The theme: "Bigger, Better and Buglier: Impressive Science at the Bohart." This will be an opportunity to see some of the nearly eight million specimens, visit the live petting zoo (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas) and ask questions of the scientists.
The nematology collection will be on display in the Sciences Laboratory Building, across from Briggs.
That was the most commonly asked question at the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) booth during the California Agriculture Day on Wednesday, March 22 on the west lawn of the State Capitol.
The annual event, heralding the first day of spring and showcasing the state's many crops and commodities, also offers an opportunity "for farmers and ranchers to show their appreciation by bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for agricultural education," a spokesperson said. This year's theme: "Food for Life."
Despite the light rain, several thousand crowded through the gates to visit the 52 booths, see 4-H and FFA animals, and to sample everything from tri-tip sandwiches from the Buckhorn Restaurant to strawberries from the California Strawberry Commission to milk from the Dairy Council of California to honey from the CSBA. Scores of other activities abounded.
The CSBA crew handed out some 2500 honey bee sticks-- long straws filled with honey--to two groups of people: legislators and staff from 10:30 to 11:30, and the public from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
A message affixed to each honey stick emphasized the importance of honey bees.
Honey bees, the five-bullet message related:
- Are the backbone of U.S. agriculture
- Pollinate 1/3 of the human diet
- Pollinate 120 various U.S. crops worth over $15 billion
- Pollinate California's $5.3 billion almond productions
- Produced over $200 million in U.S. honey and beeswax
The bees arrived, too. Providing the two bee observation hives: Bernardo Niño, who serves as the program manager of the California Master Beekeepers' Program, based at UC Davis, and Bill Cervenka, a longtime CSBA member. To visitor queries, they pointed out the whereabouts of the queen bee in the Laidlaw hive with: “Look for the pink one!” referring to the queen bee marked with a pink dot.
And just how are the bees doing?
"It's a challenge," Niño said, detailing some of the issues, from parasites, pesticides and pests to diseases and malnutrition. The "bee educators" also referred to the 44 percent loss: a national survey showed that beekeepers across the United States lost 44 percent of their honey bee colonies during the year spanning April 2015 to April 2016. "Rates of both winter loss and summer loss—and consequently, total annual losses—worsened compared with last year," according to Bee Informed. This marks the second consecutive survey year that summer loss rates rivaled winter loss rates. (See survey.)
CSBA, a non-profit organization serving California's beekeeping industry--primarily commercial beekeepers and queen breeders--actively supports bee research efforts; works with government officials to protect and promote the interest of the beekeeping industry; and educates the public about the beneficial aspects of honey bees. Officials say that the group supports research beneficial to beekeeping practices, provides a forum for the cooperation among beekeepers, and supports the economic viability of the beekeeping industry. Membership also includes a subscription to "The California Bee Times" and automatic membership in the $10,000 Bee Theft Rewards Program.
The E. L. Niño lab, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, supports California beekeepers through research, extension, and outreach. Their website lists current beekeeping courses which began March 11 and continue through June 11. They also maintain the E. L. Niño Lab Facebook site.
There's still room in several of the courses to be taught this spring by the E.L. Niño Bee Lab at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Research Facility, University of California, Davis.
Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and her staff will teach the courses. Registration is now underway, and gift certificates are also available.
See list at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/courses.html.
Capsule information on the courses:
- Planning Ahead for Your First Hives; Two Separate Courses Offered (25 spots per session).
Saturday, March 11, 9 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, March 18, 9 to 5 p.m.
Participants can sign up for one of two short courses: the first on Saturday, March 11 and the second on Saturday, March 18. The cost is $95. The all-day course will include lectures and hands-on exercises. "This course is perfect for those who have little or no beekeeping experience and would like to obtain more knowledge and practical skills to move on to the next step of owning and caring for their own honey bee colonies," Niño said.
- Working Your Colonies; Two Separate Courses Offered (25 spots per session)
Sunday, March 12, 9 to 5 p.m.
Sunday, March 19, 9 to 5 p.m.
Two separate short courses will be offered: the first on Sunday, March 12, and the second on Sunday, March 19. The cost is $150. The all-day courses are for novice beekeepers who already have a colony or have taken the previous course and want to develop their beekeeping skills further. Participants will learn how to inspect their colony and how to troubleshoot, as well as glean information on products of the hive. The afternoon will be spent entirely in the apiary with hands-on activities and demonstrations.
- Varroa Management Strategies; Two Separate Courses Offered (25 spots per session)
Saturday, May 13, 9 to 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 27, 9 to 5 p.m.
Two separate courses will be offered: the first on Saturday, May 13, and the second on Saturday, May 27. The cost is $175. Course description: Current beekeeping challenges call for all beekeepers to have a solid understanding of varroa mite biology and management approaches. Participants will dive deeper into understanding varroa biology and discussing pros and cons of ways to monitor, mitigate and manage this pest.
- Bee Breeding; One-Day Course (25 spots)
Sunday, June 11, 9 to 5 p.m.
This is a one-day course, to be held Sunday, June 11. The cost is $75. Course description: This course complements the queen-rearing techniques course. Participants will learn the intricacies of honey bee genetics along with honey bee races and breeder lines. "We will also have an in-depth discussion of various breeding schemes," Niño said.
To register, access this website, http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/courses.html. For more information, contact Bernardo Niño at email@example.com or (530)-380-BUZZ (2899). The Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/
And your bees.
The declining honey bee population now has 52 more friends. Science-based friends. Bee ambassadors. Partners.
They're the new apprentice graduates of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB), administered by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her colleagues at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Program, University of California, Davis.
The program, which includes apprentice, journeyman and master levels, uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors to help the troubling honey bee population, assist beekeepers, and engage in public outreach, according to CAMPB program manager Bernardo Niño of the E. L. Niño lab. The written and practical exams for apprentice took place in September at the Laidlaw facility. Now the 52 grads can opt to stop at the apprentice level or continue on to the more advanced levels of journeyman and master.
“We know that all will represent the program confidently and knowledgeable throughout the state and the country and we look forward to working with all the future CAMPBers,” wrote Elina and Bernardo Niño in the current edition of their Apiculture Newsletter.
The 52 beekeepers answered 125 questions on the written test, dealing with basic honey bee biology, beekeeping equipment, maladies of the hive, and management techniques. Then they took the practical exam, which consisted of 20 minutes of one-on-one time with an examiner. They demonstrated their mastery of basic colony and hive inspections, identification of equipment and different hive types, and various management techniques.
The most intimidating portion of the exam? Performing a sugar shake to monitor for varroa mite levels, the Niños said. The parasitic varroa mites are considered "Public Enemy No. 1" of honey bees.
The first beekeeper to sign up for the practical test, held in the Laidlaw apiary, was Cheryl Veretto, president of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association (SCBA) and a member of the Sonoma County Master Gardeners (SCMG).
“I signed up to get it over with," Veretto acknowledged. "I hate waiting for a test--it is nerve-racking. But once I opened the hive, I felt at home. The Master Beekeeper session was somewhat intense studying for the test. There is a lot of science/biology and vocabulary that I learned. Overall, it was a great experience. And I passed."
Veretto joined SCBA seven years ago, and has been keeping bees for six years. Seven years ago, the membership totaled 95; today it's 460. "SCBA has been a non-profit since 2011," she said. "Prior to that it was a club that changed names a few times but the core beekeepers have been going since 1990s."
How did she decide to be a beekeeper; what interested her in bees and in beekeeping? “I started out as a greedy gardener-- wanting everything to be pollinated so that I could select my best,” Veretto recalled. “I have always planted for pollinators in my gardens, but wanted to maximize, and so, I started beekeeping--and what a journey its been. I am now an activist for pollinators, and you never stop learning when you get into bees/beekeeping. The honey bee and humans are tied together closer than many think."
Veretto thoroughly enjoys keeping bees and engaging in public service. “I enjoy building community. We have an awesome bee club with a membership that is fully engaged--we have activities going on most every week, and we are active in the community, doing presentations and demonstrations,” she said. “I do public speaking with both SCBA and SCMG groups talking on 'Planting for Pollinators' and 'Safe Gardening' practices. I just finished the Advanced Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program with Master Gardeners and hope to include much of that information in my presentations as well. My true passion is gardening and propagating bee forage plants; most days you find me outside in the gardens and apiary.”
Veretto lives on a small rural farm with her human family and 12 bee hives, along with Cashmere goats, chickens, cats, dogs, a food garden and several pollinator forage gardens.
"I started beekeeping with one hive six years ago and gradually built up to 12," she said. "I think that is a good size of apiary for me; it takes a little more time for management but I am learning so much more, having several colonies to watch, and something different is going on in each. I keep bees in both Langstroth and TopBar hives, and have an observation hive for demonstration.“
Now she's looking forward to serving in the California Master Beekeeper Program as a science-based bee ambassador.
Interested in learning more about the California Master Beekeeper Program? Here are some Niño-lab resources:
- California Master Beekeeper Website
- E. L. Niño Lab Website
- E. L. Niño Lab Facebook Page
- Apiculture Newsletter
The Niño lab plans to expand testing sites to encompass the entire state, and will be working with UC Cooperative Extension offices. The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center helps support the program. To receive the most up-to-date news and information, folks can sign up for the CAMPB-specific mailing list.) For further information, contact Bernardo Niño at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 380-BUZZ (2899).
The summer edition includes Bernardo Niño's article, "Educational Apiary at UC Davis Is A-Buzz."
"After much preparation and planning, we finally established an educational apiary here at the UC Davis Bee Facility," he wrote. "The main goal of this apiary is to provide beekeepers of all levels with an opportunity to experience a variety of hive types. We have been teaching beekeeping courses for awhile now and we always get asked about hives other than Langstroth. So we have finally made the first step towards providing a comprehensive demonstration of the different ways to keep honey bees. If you were to come by the apiary right now, you would get a chance to see a Kenyan Top Bar hive, Warré hive, Langstroth hive, and even a Langstroth hive modified with Flow™ Hive frames. Next season we are excited to add the Hungarian Rotating hive, as well as plastic and polystyrene hives." Bernardo Niño also offers a quick review of what these hives are.
Other articles feature:
Africanized Bee Testing. UC Davis does not test honey bee samples to determine if they are Africanized. But Elina Niño lists some facilities that do.
Do Bees Have a Personality? "I have been asked, jokingly, of course, if I call the bees in a colony by their names. I would laugh and maybe even say a few names like 'Bee-anca' and 'Bee-atrix.' Doctoral candidate Cameron Jasper provides information.
A Few Notes About 'Our Colonies.' This year we partnered with a local beekeeper to complete the second year of our project of evaluating various biomiticides for Varroa management.
Let's Talk About American Foulbrood. Over the past few months, I heard from several beekeepers that they've been finding American Foulbrood (AFB) in their hives.
Is Honey 'Bee Vomit'? Extension apiculturist (emeritus) Eric Mussen is a guest columnist. The answer? "In a word, 'No.' Honey is neither bee vomit nor bee barf."
Kids' Corner: Bees Recognize Human Faces. Do you have a hard time remembering names of people you meet? I do, too--I'm MUCH better at remembering faces. And guess what--bees can do it, too.
To stay-up-to-date with the most current news from the E. L. Niño lab, access the lab's Facebook page. You'll learn about upcoming beekeeping courses, as well as the Master Beekeeper course.
The Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility is located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.