- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Hear that buzz?
Are you ready for National Honey Bee Day?
It's held the third Saturday of August and that's tomorrow.
Launched in 2009 by a small group of beekeepers petitioning the U.S. Department of Food and Agriculture (USDA), the day basically "honors" honey bees and beekeeping. We first observed National Honey Bee Day on Aug. 22, 2009 (the fourth Saturday of August), but it is now permanently celebrated on the third Saturday of August.
It's a "buzzworthy" day to celebrate our tiniest agricultural workers. One-third of the food we eat comes from crops pollinated by honey bees, including almonds, apples, plums, pomegranates, onions, strawberries and much more.
"Honey bees play a critical role in agricultural production and pollinate dozens of food producing crops in the United States," according to UC Davis-based scientists. "In the U.S., honey bees account for $15 billion in added crop value."
Show me the honey? Okay. In 2019, U.S. honey bees produced about 157 million pounds of honey worth a total value of $339 million, according to the USDA. California ranks 5th in the nation in honey production.
At UC Davis, Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of our Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, researches honey bees, and helps beekeepers and consumers. Her laboratory research interests include honey bee biology, health, breeding, behavior, reproductive physiology, genomics, chemical ecology and sociology of beekeeping. Check out her lab webpage on "Lending Bees and Beekeepers a Helping Hand." Niño, who serves all of California as the state's one and only apiculturist, also founded and directs the California Master Beekeeper Program, heralded for "using science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping."
Question: how many images do you have of honey bees pollinating different California crops? Here are a few.