- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 31 percent of all American farmers are women, contributing $12.9 billion to the agricultural economy, says Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and coordinator of the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, set Saturday March 3 in the UC Davis Conference Center. Quoting from an article in Bee Culture magazine): "In national beekeeping groups women represented less than a third of leadership positions."
Statistics from Bee Culture also indicate that of the
- national/regional beekeeping/pollinator groups: 30.4 percent are women
- state beekeeping associations: 30 percent are women
- local beekeeping clubs: 42 percent are women
Beekeeper Sharon Schmidt of Phoenix, Ore., who founded the Cascade Girl Organization-Oregon Honey Festival, will shed light on the subject during the Bee Symposium's lightning round on "Women in Beekeeping."
She'll focus on "Women in Beekeeping: Past Accomplishments and Future Pathways."
"I believe we are observing a phenomena among women in which it appears that we are beginning to value ourselves and our skills and becoming more willing to learn from each other," Schmidt says.
Schmidt, who maintains bee hives in Phoenix, at a winery in Ashland, and a nursery in Central Point, traces her interest in bees to her beekeeper grandmother. "And my father passed my love of bees and probably more importantly--my understanding of them--along to me. I come from a long line of Wisconsin farmer-cheese makers."
Schmidt founded and directs the non-profit Cascade Girl Organization, which advocates "Healthy Pollinators, Flowers, Landscapes, People." The group sponsors the annual Oregon Honey Festival, which takes place in Ashland on Aug. 18. She serves on the executive board.
Looking back, Schmdit commented: "I became actively involved in learning about bees as both my attraction to them and my increasing sense of alarm about the environment. The alarm was triggered by my observation of the concurrent and ongoing upward trend in morbidity and mortality among both people and pollinators. I felt and still believe that there is a common denominator."
Registration is still underway for the all-day UC Davis Bee Symposium, Harris says. The event, open to all interested persons, features keynote speaker Tom Seeley of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., who will discuss "Darwinian Beekeeping."
Seeley, a bee scientist, professor and author, is the Horace White Professor in Biology, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, where he teaches courses on animal behavior and researches the behavior and social life of honey bees. He's the author of Honeybee Ecology: A Study of Adaptation in Social Life(1985), The Wisdom of the Hive: the Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies (1995), and Honeybee Democracy(2010), all published by Princeton University Press. His books will be available for purchase and signing at the symposium.
The symposium is sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, part of the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The daylong event "is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees," says Harris. "In addition to our speakers, there will be lobby displays featuring graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, and much more."
At the close of the symposium, a reception will take place in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.