The inaugural California Honey Festival, to take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 6 on a four-block stretch in historic downtown Woodland, will draw folks from all over state and beyond. And it's free and open to the public.
Coordinated by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, the festival will offer honey sampling, mead, live bands, talks on beekeeping and bee friendly plants, and vendors offering bee-related wares. And that's just the "bee-ginning."
At the Honey Lab, located in the UC Davis booth, members of the UC Davis Master Beekeeper Program and knowlegeable volunteers will teach festival-goers about "all things honey."
Some of the activities at the Honey Lab booth:
- Taste honey from around the world and check out the giant honey flavor and aroma wheel
- Learn about UC Davis beekeeping and the California Master Beekeeper Program
- Follow how honey is made from flower to bottle
- Marvel at the life cycle of a honey bee, starting with an egg and resulting in a bee just a couple weeks later
- Learn what is harming our bees
- Peruse the different kinds of bee hives and how they work
- Purchase books and UC Davis honey from the UC Davis bookstore
"The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping through this unique educational platform, to the broader public," said Harris. "Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival will help develop an interest in beekeeping by the younger generation. Attendees will learn about the myriad of issues that confront honey bees including pesticide use, diseases and even the weather! In addition, attendees can learn how to creatively plant their gardens to help feed all of our pollinators. It is important for the community to appreciate and understand the importance of bees as the lead pollinator of many of our crops adding to the food diversity we have come to enjoy."
One of the speakers is longtime beekeeper Gene Brandi of Los Banos, president of the American Beekeeping Federation, who will speak on the Beekeeping Stage from 10:30 to 11 a.m., and again from 1 to 1:45. Brandi began working with bees in the early 1970s while attending California Polytechnic Institute (Cal Poly) at San Luis Obispo. After graduation, he began working the bees full time, starting his own business in 1978 and building it up to 2000 colonies.
Brandi, who spoke at a 2015 symposium at UC Davis, said that the major issues that negatively impact colonies include pesticides, varroa mites, nutritional issues and diseases. "It's much more difficult to keep bees alive and healthy today than it was in the 1970s," he told his audience. "I had a 5 percent winter loss in the 1970s, and a 13 to 45 percent winter loss in his operation during the past 10 years."
Among the many other speakers: Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, booked from 11 to 11:45 a.m. and from 2 to 2:45 p.m., and Billy Synk, director of pollination programs for Project Apis m., and former manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Honey Bee Facility at UC Davis. Sync speaks from 12 to 12:45.
The California Honey Festival website includes a program schedule.
Expect lots of honey--which has been described as "the soul of a field of flowers."
That was a popular refrain at the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day, held Saturday, April 22.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology showed thousands of folks the honey at its Briggs Hall exhibit, "Honey Tasting." The line stretched out the door and into the lobby as eager folks--from pre-schoolers to senior citizens--waited for samples and an opportunity to talk to the scientists.
The crowd liked the meadowfoam honey the best, followed by citrus.
It was a team effort. Student scientists left their labs to staff the honey tasting table. Okay, they made a "bee line" there. In between handing out toothpicks coated with honey, they conversed with the public, answering questions about honey, bees, and beekeeping. One participant asked "What's good about honey?" Other questions included "How are the bees?" and "How can I become a beekeeper?"
It wasn't just about the honey. Scores of other insect-related events also took place at Briggs Hall (maggot art, cockroach races, and displays featuring ants, mosquitoes and bees, in addition to forensic, aquatic, and forest entomology.
Over at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, thousands flocked through the doors to see butterfly and other insect specimens, live scorpions, live carpenter bees, and a live "petting zoo" (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas).
Chairing the department's Picnic Day Committee was graduate student Brendon Boudinot (Phil Ward lab), an ant specialist seeking his doctorate in entomology.
Now for the good news: two of the department's exhibits were up for special awards--honey tasting at Briggs Hall, and the multiple displays at the Bohart Museum.
The results were announced today. The honey tasting exhibit, coordinated by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, won the popular vote in its category, "Hungry Fix."
How sweet it is!
Fittingly, the theme of this year's UC Davis Picnic Day was "Growing Together." The annual event, drawing in surrounding communities, is really one gigantic open house, and a time to "come and experience the richness of diversity and achievement" of the university in "the areas of research, teaching service and campus life," organizers said.
Here's who won the special exhibit awards, as announced by exhibits coordinator Helen Xiu:
Best in Show:
- Harry Potter and the "Try"-Physics Tournament
Fun with Crafts:
- DNA and Bioluminescence
Arts and Humanities:
- The Joy of Writing: The University Writing Program Creates Fun with Words!
- Honey Tasting
Secrets of Nature
- Explore the Tree of Life
Congratulations to all! They were all special!
Speaking of special, mark your calendars to learn more about bees, honey and beekeeping:
- The inaugural California Honey Festival, coordinated by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will take place Saturday, May 6 in downtown Woodland. It's billed as a fun-filled day of honey, mead, music, beekeeping talks, kids' activities and more. Free and open to the public, it promises to be both fun and educational.
- The third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium: Keeping Bees Healthy is Sunday, May 7. It's sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. This is a "must" if you're keeping bees or want to do so--or if you just want to learn more about bees. Keynote speaker is noted apiculturist Steve Sheppard of Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Registration is underway.
- The Western Apicultural Society (WAS), launched at UC Davis 40 years ago, will return to its roots for a conference Sept. 5-8. President of WAS (this is his sixth term) is co-founder Eric Mussen of UC Davis, Extension apiculturist emeritus. The organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers in the United States but is open to anyone throughout the world. Registration will soon be underway. Check the website for more information.
They are, you know, everywhere.
However, when the 103rd annual UC Davis Picnic Day takes place Saturday, April 22, you'll find them primarily at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's exhibits at Briggs Hall and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology,
"Show Me the Honey" and "Show Me the Bugs."
Two of the department's exhibits are in the running for special awards at the campuswide Picnic Day. One is “Honey Tasting” at Briggs Hall, and the other is “Bigger, Better, Buglier: Impressive Science” at the Bohart Museum.
“Honey Tasting" will feature a selection of varietal honeys in a display that's the work of Extension apiculturist Elina Niño and colleagues at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Facility.
"We will have the crowd favorites: coffee blossom, sweet meadowfoam, as well as some classics such as orange blossom and blackberry blossom and the 'love-it-or-hate-it' buckwheat honey," Niño said. "This year we will also be featuring our own 2016 crop of UC Davis honey from the apiculture program." The exhibit is one of six competing for awards in the category, "Hunger Fix.”
The Bohart Museum's “Bigger, Better, Buglier: Impressive Science” exhibit is one of six exhibits entered in the category, "Secrets of Nature." The Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is directed by Lynn Kimsey, UC Davis professor of entomology. It's the home of nearly 8 million insect specimens, plus a live petting zoo (Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and taranatulas), and a year-around gift shop that includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
Overall, the UC Davis Picnic Day Committee selected 30 special exhibits to compete in five categories: "Best in Show," "Fun with Crafts," "Arts and Humanities," "Hunger Fix" and "Secrets of Nature," said UC Davis Picnic Day exhibits director Helen Xie.
The way it works: Picnic Day attendees vote for their favorite exhibits. Winning exhibits will be featured on social media pages such as Picnic Day website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat accounts after Picnic Day. They will also be featured next year, in preparation for Picnic Day 2018.
The poll will open beginning at 8 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. the same day.. All are welcome to vote at: https://orgsync.com/51524/forms/258052.
Last year the Department of Entomology and Nematology won two special awards. By popular vote, "Little Swimmers and Fly Tyers (Briggs Hall)," won the category, "Hidden Treasures," and "Real Insects and Mimics" (Bohart Museum) won the category "Family Friendly."
This year's Briggs Hall activities will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Bohart Museum of Entomology will swing open its doors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Graduate student Brendon Boudinot is chairing the department's Picnic Day Committee. (See list of activities at Briggs Hall in previous Bug Squad blog.)
Boudinot's special favorite at the UC Davis Picnic Day? Ants. He's studying for his doctorate with ant specialist Phil Ward and is helping with the ant exhibit at Briggs Hall.
It wouldn't be a picnic without ants.
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/
- You want to do your part to help the declining bee population.
- You want to learn about the honey bees that pollinate the food you eat, including fruits, vegetables and nuts (especially almonds!).
- You'd love some honey for your table and some wax to make candles.
- You want to learn about the queen bee, drones and worker bees--what they do and how to care for them.
- You want to join your fellow beekeeping friends.
But where do you start?
You're in luck.
The E. L. Nino lab at the University of California, Davis, is offering two back-to-back short courses: the first on Saturday, Aug. 27 on “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” and the second on Sunday, Aug. 28 on “Working Your Colonies.”
Each will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Participants may register for one or both courses, according to Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, who is coordinating and teaching the courses with Bernardo Niño and colleagues at the Laidlaw facility. The short courses will be limited to 25 people.
Here's some information about each:
Planning Ahead for Your First Hive
The course, “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives,” taught by Elina Niño, Bernardo Niño, Charley Nye and Tricia Bohls, will provide lectures and hands-on exercises. The course is described as “perfect for those who have little or no beekeeping experience and would like to obtain more knowledge and practical skills before moving on to the next step of owning and caring for their own honey bee colonies.”
Lecture modules will cover honey bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to start your colony, and maladies of the hive. Practical modules will zero in on how to build a hive, install a package, inspect a hive and monitor for varroa mites.
Participants will have the opportunity to learn about and practice many aspects of what is necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving. At the end of the course, participants "will be knowledgeable about installing honey bee packages, monitoring their own colonies and taking on possible challenges with maintaining a healthy colony."
The $95 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch and refreshments.
Working Your Colonies
For the short course, “Working Your Colonies,” instructors are Elina Niño and Bernardo Niño. The course, to include lectures and hands-on exercises, is described as “perfect or those who already have beekeeping experience and would like to obtain more knowledge and practical to move on to the next step of managing and working their own honey bee colonies.”
Lecture modules will include advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management and products of the hive. Practical modules will cover queen wrangling, honey extraction, combining colonies, splitting colonies and monitoring for varroa mites. The $150 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch, and refreshments.
For each course, participants are asked to bring a bee suit or veil if they have one (the lab has a limited number). Lodging is not provided. For more information on registering for the short courses, contact Bernardo Niño at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 380-BUZZ (2899). Want to access up-to-date information? See lab's Facebook page.