And what better time for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to host an open house than during National Pollinator Week?
It's from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 23 at its bee garden, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus.
Here's what you can expect to see or do:
- learn how to catch and observe bees up close
- see honey bees at work in an observation beehive
- learn about bee diversity and identification
- learn about what and how to plant for bees
- learn about growing and good pollination in home fruit gardens
- see easy-to-grow bee plants and solitary bee houses available for a donation to the garden.
A Little History: The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, installed in the fall of 2009 and located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road, is a half-acre garden devoted to bee pollinator conservation and education.
It was founded and sprang to life during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project.
A Sausalito team – landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki – won the design competition. The judges were Professor Kimsey; founding garden manager Missy Borel (now Missy Borel Gable), then of the California Center for Urban Horticulture; 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 and Nematology.
Others with a key role in the founding and "look" of the garden included the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by the duo of entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long worker bee sculpture, the work of Billick, anchors the garden. The art in the garden is the work of their students, ranging from those in Entomology 1 class to community residents. Eagle Scout Derek Tully planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
Today. Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, serves as the faculty advisor and director of the garden. Staff member Christine Casey is the academic program management officer. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, plays a key role in the garden. Thorp has recorded more than 80 species of bees foraging in the garden since 2009. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday). Of the 20,000 bee species identified worldwide, some 4000 are found in the United States, and 1600 in California.
Or at least you saw the crowd circling Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The bees buzzed and so did the festival-goers.
Niño presented several "live bee" demonstrations in a circular screened tent. She opened the bee hive, pulled out frames, and showed the crowd the three castes of bees: the queen, worker bees and drones.
Niño talked about beekeeping and what bees need, and then passed a couple of drones through the tent to the crowd. Some gasped, not realizing that drones are males and cannot sting. Other marveled at the docile drones, took cell phone photos and petted them. The drones didn't seem to mind!
All in all, it was a great day for bees at the California Honey Festival, which is annually sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland.
"Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States." The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival goers learned about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
How many attended the festival? About 30,000, said Harris. (That's not counting the bees!) Harris noted that the inaugural festival drew about 20,000. Organizers had expected about 3000. Next year: maybe 40,000 or more?
Be sure to check out the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) newly posted video on the festival, featuring Niño. It's excellent. Although she's based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she's California's Extension apiculturist. We are fortunate to have her! See the UC ANR video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPEdMBYXZY
Resources? The E. L. Niño lab website is at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/.
Their California Master Beekeeper Program is at https://cambp.ucdavis.edu.
Think fun, food, friends, family, and free.
The honey-of-an-event--attendance is free--promises to be both entertaining and educational.
Don't know much about bees or honey? Or have questions? You'll find out from the experts.
"This year's festival is like a growing beehive," said Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, which is partnering with the City of Woodland to stage the event. What can folks expect? "Everything that happened last year, but more, better and bigger!"
Last year they anticipated 3,000. Were they ever surprised when they drew a crowd of 20,000. Even more are expected this year as folks make a "bee line" to Woodland.
The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping, Harris says. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
One of the highlights: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, California's state apiculturist, and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, will be "opening a bee hive to show attendees just how a bee hive works," said Harris. "The intriguing catch? The hive will be full of bees!"
Nino, working in a circular screened tent, will explain exactly how the beehive works. She will show the difference between the queen and the workers and drones; explain how bees draw out wax in the frames and store honey in the cells; talk about how the frames are placed within the hive to maximize the bees' efficiency; and field questions. Her "live bee" demonstrations are scheduled for 11:15 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3:45 in the bee tent, UC Davis Stage.
The crowd can also learn what to plant in their gardens to feed the bees and other pollinators. Honey bees pollinate one-third of the American diet.
Although admission to the festival is free, there will be plenty of opportunities to order food and drinks from booths, restaurants and bars. Drinks will include mead and honey beers on tap.
Yes, there will be cooking demonstrations featuring honey. Yes, you'll be able to sample honey at the free honey tastings. Yes, there's a Kids' Zone. Yes, live bands will perform throughout the day. They include Gold Souls, City of Trees Brass Band, Sam Chance and the Untraditonal, Cameron Calloway, and Mojo Green. (See festival schedule)
Question: If bees perform the waggle dance--which they do--what do happy human beings perform at a California Honey Festival?
You'll just have to "bee there" to find out!
And when the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology hosts a honey tasting on Saturday, April 21 as part of the UC Davis 104th annual UC Davis Picnic Day, it promises to be "berry, berry good."
"Berry good" as in honey made from berries.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and staff will offer "a taste of honey"--of such honey varietals as blackberry, blueberry, raspberry, and snowberry--plus almond and buckwheat--from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Briggs Hall.
When you think about it, Picnic Day is rather like "Bug Appreciation Day" (starring honey bees, too!), courtesy of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. In fact, Picnic Day officials have nominated "Entomology at UC Davis" (122 Briggs) for a special campus award under the category "At One With Nature." The honey tasting booth in the Briggs Hall atrium is a nominee for a special award in the category, "Hunger Fix." (Access this link to vote from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. for your favorite exhibits on Picnic Day). The winners will be publicized on the Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day.
Here's where the "go-bugs" action is:
- At Briggs Hall, located off Kleiber Hall Drive, hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 or 5 p.m.
- At the Bohart Museum of Entomology, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, hours are from 10 to 3 p.m.
And here's where more honey is:
- UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute, Old Davis Road. Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, says honey will be available for tasting on Picnic Day and for sale all year around.
Coordinating the events at Briggs Hall are forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey and doctoral candidate Brendon Boudinot of the Phil Ward lab and the Entomology Graduate Students' Association. Heading the activities at the Bohart Museum are director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology, and Tabatha Yang, education and outreach coordinator.
For a full schedule of insect-themed activities, see the news story on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website. You'll find dozens of activities, including maggot art, cockroach races, fly-tying, and scavenger hunts, to name a few.
And honey tasting. Show me the honey!
You can begin the process by registering on the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP) website, announced program director and California Extension Apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Go to https://cambp.ucdavis.edu/levels/apprentice. Applications are due May 1. Those accepted into the program will be notified by June 1.
Niño introduced the 40 new apprentice-level graduates, Class of 2017, at the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, held recently in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The 40 Master Beekeepers join the 56 members of the Class of 2016.
The program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. Members of the program serve as knowledgeable ambassadors who disseminate science-based information about the importance of honey bees, preserving bee health, and responsible beekeeping.
The members of the Class of 2017 are Jesse Adcock, Heather Angeloff, Alyssa Beth Archambault, David Barbosa, Ornella Bonamassa, Max Boyce, Christopher Brennan, Cathy Carlson, Michael Conroy, Elisabeth Eschelbeck, Gerhard Eschelbeck, Yee-Yie Fogarty, Nanette Herbuveaux, Sandy Honigsberg, Russell Hudyma, Christine Jeffries, Nancy J. Johnson, Carolyn Jordan, Jesus Llamas, Meike Maag, Joel MacPherson, Shannon Marie Ciortea, Roberto Martinez, Jennifer Matthews, Cherry Mattias, Kourtney McGrath, Robert Meyer, Jeffrey Michaels, Chitra Mojtabai, Andres Molina, Holly Nelson, Sara Ramsey, Donald H. P. Sexton II, Rob Slay, Melody Wallace, Nicholas Wigle, Christine Wilson, John Winzler, German Yegorov, and Karen von Gargen.
Bernardo Niño, the founding program coordinator of CAMBP, congratulated the Class of 2017 and presented each with a pin. New program manager is Master Beekeeper Wendy Mather of El Dorado Hills. Bernardo Niño who recently accepted a position as head of bee research and development at UBEES Inc., an organization headquartered in New York City. Bernardo will be based in Davis area. He will continue to work with CAMBP as the educational advisor.
CAMBP recently received a four-year UC ANR grant of $199,949. “We are expanding geographically to include the Fresno/Madera area (Shannon Mueller, Fresno County Extension director and agronomy farm advisor) and the San Diego area (James Bethke, farm advisor and Jennifer Pelham, area environmental horticulture advisor), said Elina Niño, the principal investigator of the grant, "The California Master Beekeeper Program: Development of a Continuous Train-the-Trainer Education Effort for California Beekeepers."
"Honey bees are arguably the most important managed pollinator and are used as the primary pollinator for over 30 crops in California many of which are considered specialty crops such as almonds," wrote Niño in her successful grant application. "Therefore, the food security of our state and our nation depends largely on robust and healthy honey bee populations. However, in recent years, U.S. beekeepers have been reporting annual colony losses of up to 45 percent. These losses are attributed to many pathogens and pests associated with bees, as well as pesticide exposure and lack of access to plentiful and diverse forage."
"Colony losses have also prompted those who have never kept bees before to try their hand at beekeeping in an effort to help honey bee conservation," she pointed out. "Currently, in California there are an estimated 11,000 backyard and small-scale beekeepers, with many of them belonging to one of 35 beekeeper associations within the state. While these associations often serve as hubs of information transfer, the information provided is not always accurate or supported by research findings. Considering the importance of California to the US agriculture and the fact that almost 80 percent of the U.S. colonies start their pollination and honey production routes in almonds, it is clear that there is an urgent need to develop a comprehensive, science-based, and state-wide apiculture curriculum."
Niño noted that "Development of these educational opportunities will help minimize potentially disastrous consequences, such as increased pest and pathogen transfer or spread of Africanized bees which are considered a public-health risk, due to lack of understanding of proper honey bee husbandry. To fulfill this need we established the first-ever California Master Beekeeper Program which provides California-centric, contemporary, research-based training in apiculture."
Overseeing the California Master Beekeeper Program is an advisory committee comprised of UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisers, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology research staff, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center staff, California beekeepers, and other apiculture specialists.