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.
“We grad students were encouraged to attend and speak at the meetings,” Gary related. “It was a wonderful opportunity for us to become acquainted with hobby beekeeping and to get public speaking experience as we reported research results at the meetings. Much of the success of EAS can be attributed to keeping expenses reasonable by using housing and services of university campuses during the summer, and taking advantage of the support provided by bee research faculty on those campuses.”
In 1977, Gary asked Mussen and Becky Westerdahl, then Gary's postgraduate research entomologist and now an Extension nematologist at UC Davis, to help him launch the new organization. Gary obtained the bylaws and other documents from EAS to use as a model. EAS also loaned WAS $1000 to support the fledging organization. The first fundraising project: a banquet dinner held at the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis. “I provided some really good honey beer that I was making at the time,” Gary said, “and I contacted several wine companies for gratis cases of mead.”
Gary served as the founding president in 1978; Mussen, vice president, and Westerdahl, secretary-treasurer.
“These activities perfectly complemented his extension beekeeping program,” Gary said. “ I participated for a few more years and gradually needed more time and energy for research and other activities. Eric has been a recognized leader since the beginning days, and he is still providing great support for WAS.”
Mussen was elected president six times: 1984, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2017. In addition, he has held the office of vice president six times. He went on to become an internationally known “honey bee guru,” with a “pulse on the bee industry” and as "the go-to person" for consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media.
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.
Mussen received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after turning down an offer to play football at Harvard) and then received his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and 1975, respectively. His doctoral research focused on the epidemiology of a viral disease of larval honey bees, sacbrood virus.
During his academic career, Mussen conducted a varied program focused mainly on his role as liaison between the academic world of apiculture and real world beekeeping and crop pollination. Mussen tackled many new challenges on honey bee health and pollination concerns, including mites, diseases, pesticides, malnutrition, stress, Africanized honey bees and the successful pollination of California's almond acreage.
He presented at national, state, and county beekeepers' meetings, as well as at agricultural organizations. He educated the beekeeping industry and general public with his bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, which he launched in 1976. He also wrote Bee Briefs, addressing such issues as diseases, pesticides and swarms. Both publications are on the departmental website at http://ucanr.org/sites/entomology/Faculty/Eric_C_Mussen/Apiculture_Newsletter/.
Mussen devoted his research and extension activities toward the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices, helping growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H'ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations, among others.
Considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, Mussen received the prestigious American Association of Professional Apiculturists Award for Apicultural Excellence, California Beekeeper of the Year, Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA); a team award hailing “the bee team” from PBESA; and the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award.
Shortly before he retired, Mussen won the 2013 Alexander Hodson Graduate Alumni Award from his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, and the 2013-14 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR).
His nominators for the UC ANR award wrote that what sets Mussen apart from his Extension-specialist peers are these seven attributes:
- His amazing knowledge of bees
- His excellent communication skills in a diverse clientele, including researchers, Extension personnel, legislators,
commodity boards, grower organizations, pesticide regulators, students, news media, and beekeeping associations at the national, state and local levels,
- His eagerness to help everyone, no matter the age or stature or expertise, from an inquiring 4-H'er to a beginning beekeeper to a commercial beekeeper
- His ability to translate complicated research in lay terms; he's described as “absolutely the best”
- His willingness—his “just-say-yes” personality---to go above and beyond his job description by presenting multiple talks to every beekeeping association in California, whether it be a weekday, evening or weekend, and his willingness to speak at a wide variety of events, including pollinator workshops, animal biology classes, UC activities and fairs and festivals
- His reputation for being a well-respected, well-liked, honest, and unflappable person with a delightful sense of humor; and
- His valuable research, which includes papers on antiobiotics to control American foulbrood; fungicide toxicity in the almond orchards; the effect of light brown apple moth mating pheromone on honey bees; the effects of high fructose corn syrup and probiotics on bee colonies; and the invasion and behavior of Africanized bees. He is often consulted on colony collapse disorder and bee nutrition.
"Without question, Eric is the No. 1 Extension person dealing with honey bees in the nation, if not the world," said MacArthur Genus Awardee Professor Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight University Professor Apiculture/Social Insects at the University of Minnesota. "Research colleagues, beekeepers and the public are all very lucky to have him.”
Said Extension Specialist John Skinner of the University of Tennessee: “Eric is one of the most well-respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation. If I could select one person to represent the apicultural scientific community including research, regulation and extension, I would choose Eric.”
“Those of us in the bee industry who have been privileged to know and work with Eric appreciate his vast knowledge of honey bees and great communication skills," Gene Brandi, legislative chairman of the California State Beekeepers' Association. "Whether addressing scientists, beekeepers, growers, government officials, the media or anyone else, Eric can be relied upon to convey scientifically accurate information about honey bees and the beekeeping industry.”
Said native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis: "He has played an invaluable role as a linchpin between honey bee researchers and the beekeeping industry and the commodity groups which depend on honey bees for pollination of their crops. His knowledge of honey bees and their biology, management and colony health is highly valued by his colleagues and clients. Eric is not only our state expert on all topics relating to honey bees, but is sought after by national level organizations to participate on committees dealing with the most important concerns of the beekeeping industry."
Extension specialist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who nominated Mussen for the Pedro Ilic award, praised him as "a worldwide authority on honey bees, but no problem is too small and no question too involved for him to answer. “He devotes his research and extension activities to the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices. Eric helps growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H'ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations. He ignites their interest in maintaining the health of bees, cultivates their friendship, and generously gives of his time and intellect.”
"With the decline of the honey bee population and the increase of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, his expertise is now more highly sought than ever,” Godfrey pointed out. “Any threat to honey bees is a threat to agriculture and a cause for his concern and a desire to assist. He is the only Extension Apiculturist in the UC system and in many regards, functions as the Extension entomologist for apiculture in the western U.S. and indeed, much of the country.”
Mussen co-founded and served as president of the American Association of Professional Apiculturists. He delivered keynote addresses to the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) and to the American Honey Producers' Association. He also served in leadership roles in CSBA, the California Bee Breeders' Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers' Association, National Honey Board, American Beekeeping Federation, and the Northern California Entomology Society, among others.
His other activities included: serving as the UC Davis representative to the California State Apiary Board; offering input to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, particularly with the pesticide registration group; working closely with Cooperation Extension, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, researchers in the UC system, researchers at the USDA/ARS honey bee laboratories at Beltsville, Md; Baton Rouge, La.; Tucson, Ariz., Weslaco, Texas, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
He also reviewed annual research proposals to the California State Beekeepers' Association, the Almond Board of California, and the National Honey Board, as well as Small Business Innovation Research applications at the federal level.
Highly sought by the news media for his expertise on bees, Mussen has appeared on the Lehrer Hour, BBC, Good Morning America, and quoted in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among others.
And the winner is: Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology at the University of California, Davis, who has sponsored the annual contest since 1972 as part of his long-term studies of butterfly life cycles and climate.
The contest rules indicate that the first person who finds the first cabbage white butterfly of the year in the three-county area of Yolo, Solano and Sacramento receives a pitcher of beer or its equivalent.
Shapiro nabbed the cabbage white butterfly, Pieris rapae, at 1:56 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19 in the student gardens near the Solano Park Apartments on campus. It's the first time the winner has been found on the main campus.
He found the butterfly, a male, on a cultivated Brassica (cabbage family).
“Earlier today I was asked when P. rapae would come out, given the very wet January this year. I replied that when it stopped raining. we'd probably get into tule fog…and that would take us into February for any decent butterfly weather.”
Jan. 19 dawned with a “a cold, unstable air mass overhead,” Shapiro recalled, describing it as “an ideal convective day, with showers and thundershowers popping up.”
With the ground and the vegetation sopping wet, he figured this would not a “potential rapae day.”
“When I got out of class at noon it was bright and sunny, clear overhead but with cumulus building to the west over the Coast Range. It felt warm and I might have gone to West Sacramento, but decided by the time I got there it would have clouded over and perhaps even be raining. So I got lunch and then walked over to the student gardens near the Solano Park Apartments just to gather host plant for my rapae culture--yes, I'm mass-rearing the bugs for photoperiod studies, and have some 100 live ones in a refrigerator."
“It remained sunny and got quite warm—55 or 56, I'd say," Shapiro related. "The vegetation was indeed sopping wet. At 12:59 I saw—a rapae. It was sitting quietly, wings folded, on a cultivated Brassica. It had not opened its wings to body-bask, that is, warm the body by exposure to incoming solar radiation. If it had, it almost certainly would have flown and, being netless, I would have lost it. Instead it just sat there as I picked it off the plant. I always carry one glasseine envelope in my eyeglass case. Into the envelope it went. It's a winter-phenotype male and, I imagine, had just emerged this morning and not yet flown.”
“This is the second year in a row that the first rapae was found in a garden rather than one of the conventional ‘warm pockets,' Shapiro noted. “What does it all mean?”
The 2016 winner was also found in a garden when UC Davis ecology graduate student Jacob Montgomery stepped outside his home in West Davis on Jan. 16 and collected it.
Davis resident Cindy McReynolds, program manager of the Bruce Hammock lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, spotted some cabbage white butterfly chrysalids in her garden two weeks ago. "They were on the cabbage when I was removing the vegetation."
While scouting for the cabbage white on Jan. 19, Shapiro also noticed a “fresh-looking female West Coast Lady, Vanessa annabella, nectaring at a crucifer in the same garden—first one of those this year too, but it's a hibernator.”
Shapiro launched the contest in 1972 to draw attention to Pieris rapae and its first flight. “Since 1972, the first flight has varied from Jan. 1 to Feb. 22, averaging about Jan. 20.”
The butterfly is emerging earlier and earlier as the regional climate has warmed, said Shapiro, who researches biological responses to climate change. "The cabbage white is now emerging a week or so earlier on average than it did 30 years ago here."
The professor, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Entomological Society and the California Academy of Sciences, said the cabbage white butterfly inhabits vacant lots, fields and gardens where its host plants, weedy mustards, grow.
Shapiro has won the contest every year except four. The other winners were his own graduate students: Adam Porter defeated him in 1983; and Sherri Graves and Rick VanBuskirk each won in the late 1990s.
Shapiro, who is in the field more than 200 days of the year, monitoring butterflies of central California, knows where to find the cabbage whites. He has collected many of his winners in mustard patches near railroad tracks in West Sacramento, Yolo County. Over the last seven years, five of the winners came from West Sacramento; one in Davis, Yolo County; and one in Suisun, Solano County.
Coincidentally, Shapiro caught the 2013 and 2009 winners on President Obama's Inauguration Day. This year he nearly made President-Elect Donald Trump's Inauguration Day (Jan. 20).
Shapiro maintains a website on butterflies, where he records the population trends. He and artist Tim Manolis co-authored A Field Guide to Butterflies of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento Valley Regions, published in 2007 by the University of California Press.
This is his exit seminar. Borowiec received his doctorate in entomology in June, studying with major professor Phil Ward. He is now a postdoc in the lab of evolutionary biologist/ant specialist Christian Rabeling of Rochester, N.Y. The lab will be moving to Tempe, Ariz. in January.
"Ants are the world's most successful eusocial organisms." Borowiec says. "Long history, high species diversity, and extreme variety of life histories make them an excellent group in which many evolutionary questions can be addressed."
His research interests include phylogeny, taxonomy, biogeography, and natural history of ants. Before enrolling at UC Davis, Borowiec received his master's degree in 2009 from the Department of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Taxonomy, University of Wroclaw, Poland.
"My focus has been primarily on ant diversity and evolution and in my research I combine field work, morphology, molecular phylogenetics, and comparative methods," Borowiec says. "I am also interested in computing and phylogeny estimation from next-generation sequencing data."
His dissertation research at UC Davis focused on building a taxonomic and phylogenetic framework for the research on army ant evolution. "Although army ants include very charismatic species, they belong to a larger group, the subfamily Dorylinae," he noted. "In addition to the army ants, dorylines comprise many cryptic ants whose biology and even taxonomy have been neglected. Partly as a result of this, even phylogenetic relationships of the army ants are not well-understood. The first step to advancing evolutionary research in the group was thus to examine the morphological diversity within this lineage. This resulted in a generic revision of the subfamily, published open-access in ZooKeys. Expertise gained during this work allowed me to design robust taxon sampling for a phylogeny of the dorylines based on next-generation sequencing data (ultraconserved elements or UCEs), currently in preparation."
In a paper titled “Use Antimicrobials Wisely,” published in the current edition of Nature, a nine-member international research team, including Carroll, advocates that the United Nations reframe its action on antimicrobial resistance.
The United Nations is meeting in New York on Sept. 21 to discuss the global antimicrobial drug resistance (AMR) crisis.
“We're concerned about what will happen if the proposed UN solutions focus mainly on incentives for new drug development, at a time when the drug industry itself is abandoning those efforts against infectious disease due to AMR,” said Carroll, who co-leads the international group on resistance to pesticides and antimicrobial drugs. He founded and directs the Institute for Contemporary Evolution, Davis, and is a member of the Sharon Lawler lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The paper, published in the Comment section, is the first product from a two-year working group sponsored by the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland. “We are taking a similar socio-environmental approach in our concurrent work on pesticide stewardship,” Carroll said.
“While new drugs have a role, we think it's more important for society to learn how to steward pathogen susceptibility, so we develop that theme in the paper,” Carroll said. “And because we also depend on microbes for digestion, immunity, and general health, and microbes support ecosystem functioning through nutrient cycles and the maintenance of soil and water quality, we further argue that our AM drug habits and waste streams threaten both personal and planetary health. “
Lead authors of the paper are Peter Jorgensen of Stockholm, Sweden, and Didier Wernli of Geneva Switzerland. Jørgensen, who spent part of his Danish graduate program working with Carroll in Davis, is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, Stockholm.
Carroll described AMR as more than a medical dilemma—it's a socio-ecological problem. “The vulnerability of pathogens to antimicrobial drugs is a communal resource, readily threatened by overuse, to be lost as a classic 'tragedy of the commons.' There is a lot of contemporary theory for social resilience in the face of socio-ecological challenges, and– linking to entomology– the early success of the pioneering management of Bt crop pest resistance evolution is an encouraging precedent.”
In its planetary health approach, the group seeks to be “more cognizant not only of preserving drug susceptibility in pathogenic microbes, but also protecting from wholesale destruction the community of microbes on which we depend for life,” Carroll said.
In the paper, the scientists pointed out that “Resistance affects animal and environmental health as well as human health, and so requires coordinated action across economic sectors. No single concern exemplifies this better than the high rate of antibiotic use in agriculture (largely as growth promoters or disease prevention).” They wrote that in the United States, 70 to 80 percent of all anti-microbials consumed are given to livestock.”
Godfrey, who has addressed Rice Field Day for 25 years, will discuss how the California rice industry's use of insecticides is threatened by two major factors: the development of insecticide resistance and regulatory actions.
Materials registered for California rice, Godfrey said, include pyrethroids (Mustang®, Warrior®),neonicotinoid (Belay®), insect growth regulator (Dimilin®), and carbamate (Sevin®). One additional product is in the registration pipeline, a ryanodine receptor modulators (Coragen®).
“However, as shown in the 2015 season when armyworms reached unprecedented levels--the highest of the last 25 years-- the insecticide choices were limited and all options had some deficiencies in terms of efficacy on armyworms,” Godfrey said. “Fortunately, the California Rice Commission was able to get an emergency exemption (Section 18) for Intrepid® to help with this situation. All these registered insecticides need to be managed carefully so they are available and effective in future years and for future generations.”
Joanna Bloese, a student in the Godfrey lab, will present a poster, "Evaluating the Effects of Chemical and Cultural Management Practices on the Population Dynamics of Tadpole Shrimp (Triops longicaudatus) in California Rice." (Research by J. B. Bloese, L. Espino, K. Goding, L. D. Godfrey). Ongoing research is focused on developing pest management methods in rice to reduce the need for insecticide use while still producing a profitable crop. Kevin Goding, staff research associate, also will be participating in Rice Field Day.
The purpose of the Rice Field Day, sponsored by the California Cooperative Rice Research Foundation (CCRRF) and the University of California, is to give rice growers and others an opportunity to observe and discuss research in progress at the Rice Experiment Station (RES).
The program will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a general session that serves as the annual membership meeting. Posters and demonstrations will be displayed during registration until after lunch. Field tours of research will emphasize progress on rice variety improvement, and disease, insect pest, and weed control. The program will conclude at noon with a lunch that includes rice.
More information is available on the CRRF website at http://www.crrf.org/