Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen, who is serving his sixth term as president of the Western Apicultural Society (WAS), says those registering early will save $50. “There will still be an opportunity to register after July 31 but you won't get the ‘early bee' special,” he said.
The early registration fee for the full conference is $175, while the cost after July 31 is $225. One-day registration is also offered at $60. The conference is open to all interested persons.
WAS, a non-profit organization, represents mainly small-scale beekeepers in the western portion of North America, from Alaska and the Yukon to California and Arizona. Beekeepers across North America will gather to hear the latest in science and technology pertaining to their industry and how to keep their bees healthy.
Mussen, who retired from UC Davis in 2014 but maintains an office at Briggs Hall, said most events will take place at the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) and surrounding facilities associated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Off-site tours are also planned during the afternoons.
At the conference, Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, will share his insights on the "The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene"; Les Crowder will discuss managing honey bees in top bar hives, and Larry Connor will cover "Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.” Several speakers will present mini-sessions outdoors at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the adjacent Häagen Dazs Bee Haven, a bee friendly garden operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Both are on Bee Biology Road.
"The beekeeping and honey industries are, and have been extremely volatile,” said Flottum, editor of Bee Culture for more than 30 years. “That's what happens when you have animals, the weather, government and humans in the mix.” He will discuss “what's going on at the moment that beekeepers should be aware of, and more importantly, what to expect in the near and not so near future that will affect bees, beekeepers and honey, queen and honey bee production."
Flottum also authored three books on beginning, intermediate and advanced beekeeping and one on honey plants and honey tasting, and is working on several more books.
"Kim Flottum has been a stalwart in U.S. beekeeping for decades,” Mussen said. “He ferrets out information on national, regional, and local beekeeping happenings and disseminates the news in various places, depending upon his role at the time.”
Other presenters will include beekeeper Serge Labesque of Glen Ellen, Sonoma County, who advocates selecting local bee stocks that can handle the problems of current-day beekeeping. Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will lead a formal honey tasting, and Sarah Red-Laird of Oregon, executive director of Bee Girl and the American Beekeeping Federation's Kids and Bees Program director, will present a breakout session on “Beekeeping Education/Honey Bee Conservation." See program schedule.
UC Davis is a world-renowned entomology/apicultural facility. Among the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty are Elina Niño, Extension apiculturist; pollination ecologist Neal Williams; bee scientists Brian Johnson and Rachel Vannette, and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor. Niño and Williams are on the speakers' list.
UC Davis artist Steve Dana created a T-shirt for the conference featuring a bee on a high wheeler bicycle or penny-farthing, symbolizing UC Davis. The t-shirt can be ordered on the WAS website at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org. The conference registration form, speaker program and other information are online.
Eric Mussen offers 10 reasons why one should attend the conference. See the Bug Squad blog, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources website, at http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24628
President Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is serving his sixth term as president since its founding at UC Davis by faculty members Norm Gary and Mussen, along with then postdoctoral fellow Becky Westerdahl, now an Extension nematologist in the department.
The conference, to be held primarily in the UC Davis Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), kicks off with the three co-founders engaging in nostalgia. Many former WAS officers and founding members are expected to attend and participate in the lively session.
The conference is open to all interested persons; registration is now underway at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org/ The pre-registration deadline is July 31; the cost will advance after that.
“It's a good opportunity 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,” Mussen said, “and to speak directly to the researchers concerning their research findings and any other bee-related topics.
Speakers will include:
- 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
- Larry Connor of Michigan, who will address more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals with his presentation “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.”
- Sonoma County beekeeper Serge Labesque, who will discuss“natural seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree
Beekeepers and other participants will learn about pesticides, and styles of beekeeping from "leave alone," through "essential intervention," to "intensive intervention," Mussen said.
Also planned: tours of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the adjacent Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at UC Davis; Mann Lake warehouse and products showroom in Woodland; and the Z Specialty Foods, Woodland.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will lead a formal honey tasting.
More information is pendng.
The event, free and open to the public, takes place in the Bohart Museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, UC Davis campus.
NAFEA is meeting for a conference at UC Davis July 7-12 and the Bohart open house will be part of its outreach activities. The scientists will field questions throughout the event.
"We'll have scientists from across the country here at this family friendly event,” said Tabatha Yang, the Bohart Museum's education and outreach coordinator. Family arts and crafts activities are featured at each open house. A popular activity planned for the July 9th open house is maggot art, in which maggots are dipped into non-toxic, water-based paint and placed on a “canvas” (paper) to crawl around and create a painting. The activity, coined by entomologist Rebecca O'Flaherty, a former graduate student at UC Davis, is a traditional part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's Briggs Hall offerings at the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology served as president of the organization in 2015. Current president is Jason Byrd of the Department Pathology, Immunology and Laboratory Medicine
University of Florida College of Medicine. The goal of NAFEA is to promote the development of forensic entomology throughout North America and to encourage co-operation with other similar international bodies. NAFEA defines its mission as “to provide a cooperative arena for forensic entomologists to interact and collaborate in ways that enhance the science, moral and ethical foundation, and reputation of forensic entomology.”
The July 9th open house is one of three open houses scheduled this summer. The others are:
Saturday, July 22, Moth Night from 8 to 11 p.m.: Moth Night, held in conjunction with National Moth Week, will enable visitors to explore nighttime nature through a blacklighting setup, enabling the collection of moths and other insects. The event takes place in the courtyard in back of the Bohart Museum. The museum will be open throughout Moth Night.
Sunday, Aug. 27: Bark Beetles and Trees, Forest Health in California, from 1 to 4 p.m.: The event is in collaboration with Steve Seybold, USDA Forest Service entomologist and an associate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He and his students and staff will be there to show displays and answer questions.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, houses a global collection of nearly eight million specimens. It is also the home of the seventh largest insect collection in North America, and the California Insect Survey, a storehouse of the insect biodiversity. Noted entomologist Richard M. Bohart (1913-2007) founded the museum.
Special attractions include a “live” petting zoo, featuring Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and tarantulas. Visitors are invited to hold the insects and photograph them.
The museum's gift shop, open year around, includes T-shirts, sweatshirts, books, jewelry, posters, insect-collecting equipment and insect-themed candy.
The Bohart Museum's regular hours are from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The museum is closed to the public on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and on major holidays. Admission is free.
More information on the Bohart Museum is available by contacting (530) 752-0493 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traffic: Note that Old Davis Road that goes past the Visitors' Information Center will be closed due to construction of a paving project (https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/paving-project-close-old-davis-road/)/. Visitors should enter the campus via Highway 113 and take the Hutchison exit. The parking lot closest to the Bohart Museum is Lot 46.
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.