- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
The first booth, operated by the Dairy Council of California, handed out milk. The second booth, operated by the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA), shared honey.
"They go together," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who helped staff the beekeepers' booth with CSBA president Bryan Ashurst and cousin Brock Ashurst of the Westmorland area (Imperial County) and their families; secretary-treasurer Carlen Jupe of Salida; and CSBA members Bill Cervenka of Half Moon Bay and Kathy Kellison of Santa Rosa. Kellison serves as the executive director of Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
The beekeepers know royalty when they see one (queen bee) and the Dairy Council knows a princess when it sees one. Dairy Princess Kayla Withrow of Wilton helped hand out milk and chocolate-flavored milk, while the beekeepers handed out blackberry, blueberry, citrus, clover and yellow starthistle Honeystix (honey-filled straws). A special treat at the beekeepers' booth was Häagen-Dazs ice cream, compliments of the premier ice cream brand which supports bee research at UC Davis.
The annual Ag Day recognizes California’s agricultural community by showcasing the scores of commodities that are produced in the state, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Held this year on Wednesday, March 21, it was also a day for agriculturists to show their appreciation by "bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for a half day of agricultural education and treats," said CDFA spokesperson Steve Lyle.
Said one woman visiting the beekeepers' booth: "The Häagen-Dazs ice cream is what I come for every year."
For that, she can thank the bees. And for the generous donation of ice cream, she can thank Häagen-Dazs.
After all, without honey bees and their pollination of fruits, vegetables and nuts, half of the ice cream brand's flavors would cease to exist.
Indeed, the declining bee population troubled hundreds of visitors stopping by the beekeepers' booth. The most frequently asked question: "How are the bees?"
Still declining. The mysterious colony collapse disorder (CCD) is still a mystery, but the suspected culprits are a combination of factors, including pests, parasites, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition and stress.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
This year's overall theme is "Know Your California Farmer." For those who love bees, it might as well be "Know Your California Beekeepers."
The California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) and the Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association (SABA), again will be answering questions about bees and the beekeeping industry and handing out free Häagen-Dazs ice cream, Honeystix (honey-filled straws), bee information, honey recipes, and the like. Also planned: a bee observation hive.
We've never heard anyone say "I hate bees!" at this annual event. Which is a good thing, too, as one-third of all the food we eat is pollinated by bees.
California Ag Day is sponsored by the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), California Women for Agriculture, and the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.
The theme spotlights the contributions of farmers and ranchers from California's diverse counties and growing regions, according to CDFA spokesperson Steve Lyle, director of public affairs.
Specifically, says Lyle: "Ag Day is an annual event designed to recognize California's agricultural community by showcasing the numerous commodities that are produced in our state--and the farmers and ranchers who bring them to our tables. It is also a day for the agricultural community to show its appreciation of California's by bringing together state legislators, government leaders and the public for a half day of agricultural education and treats."
The event will be open to legislators and staff only from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and then open to the public from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. CDFA Secretary Karen Ross will participate in a press conference, "Eat Local, Buy California Grown" at 11:30. At noon, a stage presentation will be emceed by Michael Marks "Your Produce Man."
What's planned at the beekeeping booth? Among those staffing the booth and answering questions will be newly elected CSBA president Bryan Ashurst of Westmorland; Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, a member of CSBA; and booth coordinator Carlen Jupe of Salida, secretary-treasurer of the CSBA.
Häagen-Dazs, which generously provides the ice cream, is a strong supporter of UC Davis bee research. Honey bees and ice cream go together; at least half of the brand's flavors require bee pollination. (Note: You'll want to visit the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. In addition, Häagen-Dazs provided funds for postdoctoral scholar Michelle Flenniken, who researches bee viruses.)