Have you ever received an email, text or postcard from vacationing family or friends with the lead sentence: "Wish you were here?"
Well, in this case, it's "Wish you WAS here!"
Excitement is building for the 40th anniversary conference of the Western Apiculture Society (WAS) of North America, headed by president Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus. WAS returns to its roots on Sept. 5-8 and will be meeting here in Davis. The organization was founded at UC Davis by professor Norm Gary (his idea); postdoctoral fellow Becky Westerdahl, and Eric Mussen, then a new faculty member. Gary is now an emeritus professor; Westerdahl is a Extension nematologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Mussen, although retired, maintains an office in Briggs Hall where he continues answering questions about bees. This is also his sixth term as WAS president, so the "R" word does not mean "Relax."
The 2017 WAS Conference will provide the following opportunities, according to honey bee guru "Dr. Eric":
- to learn about current scientific honey and native bee research, from the researchers themselves, on varying topics such as foraging behavior, parasites, predators, and diseases of bees
- to speak directly to the researchers concerning their research findings and any other bee-related topics
- to learn specific beekeeping-related information from nationally renowned speakers such as Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum of Ohio, who will discuss "The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene"; Les Crowder of Texas, co-author of the book, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health, who will focus on "Managing Honey Bee Colonies in Top-Bar Hives" with co-author Heather Harrell; and Larry Connor of Michigan, who will address more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals with his presentation “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.”
- to discuss your beekeeping styles, successes and difficulties with beekeeping peers from western U.S. states and Canadian provinces
- to meet new friends and to share recent personal information with long-time acquaintances
- to learn about various styles of beekeeping from "leave alone," through "essential intervention," to "intensive intervention"
- to exchange opinions on unique hives and products brought to the conference by various vendors or demonstrated during the tour to UC Davis facilities, the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden installed in 2009 and anchored by a ceramic-mosaic sculpture of a six-foot-long worker bee, and art coordinated by entomology professor/artist Diane Ullman and self-described rock artist Donna Billick
- to obtain in-depth knowledge on industry concerns, such as pesticide issues
- to participate in a formal honey tasting led by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center
- to interact with personnel from Mann Lake LTD on a tour to their products showroom, warehouse assembly plant, and liquid sugar blending plant. That tour also includes a visit a highly successful, moderate-sized, retail, gourmet honey packing operation Z Specialty Foods.
(So, those are 10 good reasons. The prez gets an extra bonus point: he provided 11 reasons, and No. 11 is...drum roll...)
- to visit the UC Davis campus, downtown Davis, and the northern Central Valley of America
Another big draw is leadoff speaker and Sonoma County beekeeper Serge Labesque, "who has organized a terrific presentation on the natural seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree," Mussen said.
Okay, that's an even dozen!
You can learn more about the WAS meeting on its website. (And be sure to register so you can send your family and friends a note saying "Wish you WAS here.")
Bees are known to prefer yellow and blue flowers, but pink suits them just fine, too.
- Two honey bees nearly collide over a pink zinnia.
- Another honey bee burrows into a pink oxalis.
- A young honey bee takes a liking to a pink begonia. Begonias aren't considered bee friendly flowers, but this bee buzzes to its own tune.
Meanwhile, the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), under the presidency of Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and Nematology, is gearing up for its 40th annual meeting, returning to its roots at UC Davis, and the major concern is bee health.
The conference takes place Sept. 5-8 and you're invited. Registration is now open.
Mussen, who retired as Extension apiculturist in 2014 after a 38-year career, is serving his sixth term as WAS president since 1984.
WAS, which serves the educational needs of beekeepers from 13 states, plus parts of Canada, was founded in 1977-78 for “the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America,” said Mussen, who retired as Extension apiculturist in 2014 after a 38-year career. As emeritus, he continues to maintain an office on the third floor of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The organization was the brainchild of apiculture professor Norm Gary (UC Davis faculty, 1962 to 1994), who patterned it after the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS). Gary participated in the EAS meetings as a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he received his doctorate in apiculture in 1959.
Now why do we want our bees to "be in the pink?"
"In the pink!" means being in good health.
How about "getting the red in?"
Have you ever seen a honey bee packing white, pink, blue, lavender, yellow, orange or red pollen? Have you ever seen the colorful diversity of pollen grains gracing their hives? Stunning.
Take red. It's a warning color in nature--think lady beetles, aka ladybugs. Predators know they don't taste good so they learn to leave them alone.
A chunk of red pollen on a honey bee, however, looks like a sun-ripened strawberry.
Lately we've been seeing honey bees with red pollen foraging on our Spanish lavender, Lavandula stoechas. Problem is, lavender yields a pale whitish pollen, not red. Last summer, the red came from the adjacent rock purslane (Calandrinia grandiflora). It's not blooming now, however, so, they're drawing that brilliant red pollen elsewhere. And stopping by the Spanish lavender for nectar, their flight fuel.
Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, says "I have not observed honey bees collecting pollen from lavender, but have seen them with pollen loads from other flowers stopping for a sip of nectar...especially honey bees that have been foraging on plants that do not produce nectar like California poppies, and lupines."
"English lavender, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and most other members of the mint family have pale pollen rarely collected by honey bees, but these garden herbs are all great nectar resources," he says. "It is common to see honey bees on these plants with the wrong color pollen as they forage the herbs for nectar."
We're waiting for the cilantro to bloom. Then the bees will "be in the pink," so to speak. Pink pollen.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about honey bees, three UC Davis-affiliated events await you.
Saturday, May 6: The inaugural California Honey Festival, an event coordinated by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will be held within a four-block area in downtown Woodland. Free and open to the public, it will include presentations, music, mead speakeasies, honey-tasting, vendors, bee friendly gardening, and a kids' zone.
Sunday, May 7: The third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will take place in the UC Davis Conference Center. Keynote speaker is Steve Sheppard, professor and chair of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Registration is underway.
Tuesday through Friday, Sept. 5-8: The Western Apicultural Society, founded at UC Davis, will return to UC Davis for its 40th annual meeting. It was co-founded by Norm Gary (it was his brainchild), Eric Mussen and Becky Westerdahl at what is now the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. Mussen, now Extension apiculturist emeritus, is serving his sixth term as president since 1984. WAS serves the educational needs of beekeepers from 13 states, plus parts of Canada.
If you like writing with light (photography), then you'll probably love capturing images of honey bees spinning like helicopters.
In the late afternoon, when the light softens, head over to your favorite Spanish lavender patch. Pull up a chair, listen to the buzz of the bees, and watch them spin their wings somewhat like helicopters do their blades.
Such was the case yesterday. The bees were buzzing so loud in the patch of lavender, Lavandula stoechas, that they sounded like spring unleashed. That buzz you hear is their wings; they've been recorded at 200 beats per second. Honey bees can be long-distance travelers; they can forage up to five or six miles, and can move about 15 miles per hour.
Those streaming purple petals topping the bloom are actually sterile bracts--Wikipedia defines a bract as "a modified or specialized leaf, especially one associated with a reproductive structure such as a flower, inflorescence axis, or cone scale." The bracts resemble rabbit ears, but ironically, Spanish lavender is rabbit-resistant and deer resistant (which is probably why there are no deer or rabbits in our urban yard!)
Meanwhile, if you've been wanting to learn more about honey bees, mark your calendar for these events in Davis and Woodland, Yolo County.
California Honey Festival: The inaugural California Honey Festival will take place Saturday, May 6 in downtown Woodland. Associated with the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, it will be held outdoors (Main Street), encompassing four blocks. It's free and open to the public. Expect beekeeper talks, booths, vendors, music, mead, honey tasting and lots of fun, says Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollinator Center See http://californiahoneyfestival.com.
UC Davis Bee Symposium: The Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology are sponsoring their third annual Bee Symposium, "Keeping Bees Healthy," on Sunday, May 7 in the UC Davis Conference Center. Keynote speaker is noted apiculturist Steve Sheppard of Thurber Professor of Apiculture and chair of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Sheppard specializes in population genetics and evolution of honey bees, insect introductions and mechanisms of genetic differentiation. He also heads the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory. Registration is underway at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2017-bee-symposium.
Western Apicultural Society (WAS): Founded 40 year ago at UC Davis, WAS will return to its roots for its next conference, set from Sept. 5-8 in Davis. Its president is Eric Mussen, UC Extension apiculturist emeritus, who is based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's a familiar face; he's one of the three WAS co-founders and he's serving his sixth term as president. The conference open to the public. Registration is underway on the WAS website, http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org.
It's just been announced that the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), founded 40 years ago at UC Davis, will be meeting ...drum roll...Sept. 5-8, 2017 in Davis, Calif.
That's the kind of advance notice we like.
Fortieth anniversary? Is that possible? It is. The group traces its beginnings back to 1977 and founders Norm Gary, UC Davis professor of entomology and noted bee wrangler; newly hired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen; and Becky Westerdahl, who had just received her doctorate in biology/nematology from UC Riverside. Both Gary and Mussen are retired. (Don't mention the "R" word to them, though! Mussen continues to maintain an office in Briggs Hall, UC Davis, and Gary is a jazz musician who keeps busy playing the "B" or "Bee" flat clarinet, among other instruments.) Westerdahl went on to become an Extension nematologist, based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Mussen will serve as the program coordinator for the 2017 event, to be held in the Activities and Recreational Center (ARC) on campus. He is already planning a program that will showcase the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Meanwhile, WAS will be meeting in a few weeks--Oct. 13-15--in Honolulu. Two of the speakers are from UC Davis: Eric Mussen, who will discuss pesticides; and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, an expert in queen breeding.
What's WAS all about? Mussen, a five-time president, remembers hammering out the mission with his colleagues: "WAS is a non-profit, educational, beekeeping organization founded in 1978 for the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America. Membership is encouraged from anywhere in the world. However, the organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming as well as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon." Current president is Ethel Villalobos of Hawaii. Niño serves as the second vice president.
The entire country--indeed the entire world--is worried about bee health and the declining bee population. The United States has about 2.6 million colonies, Mussen says, while the number of colonies in California is approximately half a million.
Indeed, Davis, Calif. is the place to "bee" Sept. 5-8, 2017.