- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The honey bee garden owned and maintained by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology has received a $15,000 donation from the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
State Regent Debra Jamison of Fresno, as part of her two-year fundraising project to support the troubled bee population, donated the funds to enhance the bee environment in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road.
Jamison, the 2012-2014 state regent, presented the check March 28 at a “lunch-with-the-bees” celebration organized by the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Some 125 DAR members, some from as far away as Chico and San Diego, dined beneath a canopy of olive trees bordering the road.
“We appreciate this more than we can say,” said Ed Lewis, professor and vice chair of the department--and whose mother belongs to DAR.
This was DAR's second check presentation in two years to the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. In 2013, Jamison presented a check for $30,000 for bee research to assistant professor Brian Johnson.
On behalf of the department, haven manager Christine Casey accepted the $15,000 check from Jamison and Karen Montgomery of Modesto, the state regent's project chair. Casey announced that some of the funds have already been used to purchase two benches, and other projects will include a shade structure in the Growers Grove section and more bee habitat.
Jamison adopted the motto, “Bees are at the heart of our existence” and vowed to support honey bee research and enhance honey bee environments to help the beleaguered bees.
Honey bees prefaced the American Revolutionary War (1765-1783) by 143 years. European colonists brought the honey bee to Jamestown colony, Virginia, in 1622. Descendants of the American Revolutionary War formed DAR in 1890.
“When the state regent's project was conceived, I never imagined that honey bees would be in the serious state they are in,” Jamison told the luncheon crowd. “I could not have imagined that this amazing insect would make the cover of Time magazine, or that the California DAR would be involved in trying to do something to help the most vital insect in the animal kingdom.”
“Our 114 chapters and 15 districts have worked diligently to educate members, children, and the public about the plight of bees,” Jamison said. “This outreach has been truly outstanding. Add to that the phenomenal fundraising efforts. I truly thought that when I brought this project before the members that they might think, ‘Eeeeeuuuu, creepy insect, and weird state regent.'
Jamison presented certificates of appreciation to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and communication specialist Kathy Keatley Garvey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology for their work in helping DAR with the two-year project.
“Kathy is the first live body I talked to about a possible project at UC Davis,” Jamison said. “She was immediately excited and hooked me up with the resident researcher here at the time. Our members know that Kathy is an accomplished micro-photographer, and they have seen many of Kathy's photos because she has been so open to sharing them with our organization. We also thank her for publicizing the first phase of this project. Our members were so excited to read all about it on the internet!”
Next, she paid tribute to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a member of the faculty since 1976. “Dr. Mussen, there is no way we could have put this project together without you and all of the information you provided,” she told him. “Your willingness to meet with me, and to give a tour of the lab and Honey Bee Haven was so appreciated and so kind of you. Thank you for answering all of my questions and emails over the last two years.”
“A little bee at the Central Valley Beekeepers Association--of which I am now a member-- told me you would be retiring this summer. My best wishes for a happy retirement and more personal time to spend with your bees!”
"Bee Patriotic” rally towels decorated each table. Last year Jamison's rally towels were lettered with “Bee-lieve in the Power of DAR."
All those attending the March 28th luncheon received a “I Beelong to DAR” recyclable grocery bag.
The crowd toured the haven, which was installed in the fall of 2009, and ended the day with bee presentations in the Laidlaw facility conference room.
Mussen talked about the life cycle of bees and the issues bees face: malnutrition, pesticides, pests, parasites, diseases and stress. Malnutrition, Mussen said, is a bigger problem now than colony collapse disorder (CCD), a mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive. An active colony of honey bees requires an acre-equivalent of mixed blooms, daily, to meet their nutritional needs.
Mussen also warned that simply because certain pesticides are labeled for use in organic gardening does not mean that they are less dangerous for non-target insects, particularly pollinators. Also, insecticides that are watered into the soil and move from the roots, systemically throughout the plants, are secreted in the nectar and pollens when the treated plants bloom.
Johnson thanked DAR for the generous donation of $30,000 that he received last year. He said the financial support will cover a two-year period of graduate student research. His graduate student, Gerard Smith, researches the effect of pesticide exposure in the field on honey bee foraging behavior, and graduate student Cameron Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bees.