"It is the middle of winter," writes Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. "Pink and white buds are just peeking out on the burnished branches of the almond trees all over central California. It is just the beginning of spring. Bees come out to bask in the warmth of the afternoon sun following the dark, cool winter days of December and January. They gather pollen and nectar to begin building their strength and their colony for the coming year. Each evening they return to the warmth of their hives."
That's the setting. Then comes the glow. The Honey and Pollination Center has just announced plans for its second annual "Mid-Winter Beekeepers' Feast: "A Taste of Mead and Honey." The event, open to the public, is scheduled Saturday night, Jan. 31 in the foyer of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
The elegant green table event, sponsored by Les Dames d'Escoffier, San Francisco, will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. Organic food consultant Ann Evans of Davis is planning the menu; the Buckhorn of Winters will cater. Preceding the event will be a honey and mead tasting at 5 p.m. Registration is now underway.
The Honey and Pollination Center aims to become "the world's leading authority on honey bee health, pollination, and honey quality" and is well on its way. More information is available on the website or by contacting Amina Harris at email@example.com.
Amina Harris of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will, too. She's offering honey tasting, along with arts and crafts for kids, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the south building of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).
And both are free.
Mussen will greet folks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Briggs Hall courtyard as they sample manzanita, pomegranate, lima bean, orange blossom, almond blossom and northern desert shrub (from Nevada) honey. He's coordinated the honey tasting for more than three decades.
Over at the RMI, visitors can sample honey, take a photo with a bee lady, make a cute bee that doubles as a handheld fan, buy a jar of honey, and buy notecards (yours truly donated the photos for this worthy cause).
Not to be outdone, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Department of Entomology's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive in Room 122 of Briggs Hall. Folks can single out the queen and distinguish the worker bees (females) from the drones (males).
It promises to be a sweet day.
(And, oh, by the way, if you want to taste more honey flavors, be sure to register for the Honey and Pollination Center's "Luncheon in the Garden" on June 2 at RMI.)
(Editor's note: This event has been postponed until the fall of 2013. Details pending.)
Mark your calenders!
The Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California, Davis, is planning a "Luncheon in the Garden" on Sunday, June 2 from noon to 3 p.m. in the Good Life Garden at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on campus.
It promises to be a delightful afternoon.
Executive director Amina Harris says it will be a "dazzling five-course meal from appetizers to cheese and desserts. Each course features honeys from around the globe."
The luncheon, open to the public, supports and introduces the Honey and Pollination Center. Food and drink will be provided by chefs, apiaries, wineries and meaderies (think wine made from honey), and the farmers of California.
What is the Honey and Pollination Center? Its vision is to establish UC Davis as a global center of excellence and education on bees, honey and pollination.
- Promote the use of high quality honey in the California market, help ensure the sustainability of honey production in California, and showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of Californians.
- Spearhead efforts to gain support and assemble teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including: (1) the beekeeping industry, (2) agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, (3) backyard beekeepers, and (4) the food industry
Its specific goals are five-fold:
- To optimize university resources by coordinating a multidisciplinary team of experts in honeyproduction, pollination and bee health
- To expand research and education efforts addressing the production, nutritional value, health benefits, economics, quality standards and appreciation of honey
- To serve the various agricultural stakeholders that depend on pollination services
- To help the industry develop informative and descriptive labeling guidelines for honey and bee-related products to establish transparency in the marketplace
- To elevate the perceived value of varietal honey to producers and consumers through education, marketing, and truth-in-labeling with the end goal of increasing the consumption of honey
Tickets are $125 per person. Like to attend? Contact events manager Tracy Diesslin at (530) 752-5233 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you'd like to make a donation, contact Harris at (530) 754-9301 or email@example.com.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out the newly created Facebook page.
The event, themed "The Bounty of Pollination, More Than Just Honey," will take place from 1 to 5:30 p.m. in the RMI's Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theatre, UC Davis. Keynote speakers are winning cinematographer, director and producer Louie Schwartzberg whose film “The Beauty of Pollination” has resulted in more than 23 million views on YouTube; and pollination ecologist Neal Williams, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Entomology, who will discuss “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future."
Others speaking will include:
Amina Harris, executive director of the RMI Honey and Pollination Center and owner of Z Specialty Food, Woodland, who will cover “Honey Tastings Across America”
--Victoria Wojcik, associate program manager of the San Francisco-based Pollinator Partnership, “The World of Pollinators”
--Julie Loke, teaching kitchen educator at Davis Co-Op, “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”
Another attraction is the second annual "Best Honey" competition. Beekeepers can enter the competition by bringing a jar of honey (with business card and summary of the honey) to the RMI office on Wednesday, Oct. 24. There's no charge to enter. Those attending the conference will taste and judge the honey.
RMI executive director Clare Hasler-Lewis said the newly established Honey and Pollination, was approved earlier this year by the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. The vision is to “make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Department of Entomology’s Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility.”
The center’s mission is “to showcase the importance of honey and pollination to the well-being of the citizens of California. The center will spearhead and nucleate efforts to gain support and assembly teams for research, education and outreach programs for various stakeholder groups including the beekeeping industry, agricultural interests who depend on bee pollination, backyard beekeepers and the food industry."
• Expand research and education concerning nutrition, health, quality and appreciation of honey
• Develop useful information for California’s agricultural bounty that depends on insect pollination
• Help the honey industry establish labeling guidelines to guarantee pure and unadulterated varietal honey
• Coordinate a multidisciplinary team of experts in honey production, pollination and bee health
• Promote the use of locally procured honey in the home, food industry and restaurants.
If you want to learn more about bees, honey and pollination, then you'll want to attend the debut event of the newly formed Honey and Pollination Center at the University of California, Davis.
Themed "Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey," the event is set from 1 to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 27 in the Silverado Vineyards Sensory Theater at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).
It's “an afternoon of lively discussions, unique tastings and interesting displays on the science behind honey and non-honeybee pollinators,” says RMI spokesperson Tracy Dickinson.
Among the speakers will be Amina Harris, owner of Z Specialty Foods, Woodland; Rebecca Ets-Hokin of the San Francisco Bay Area, certified culinary professional, who will discuss “Varietal Honeys—Blending the Flavors in the Kitchen”; and Neal Williams, UC Davis assistant professor of entomology, whose topic is “Integrated Pollination Strategies: Managed and Wild Bees for a Sustainable Future.”
Also planned is a best honey competition, a Pollinator Partnership activity, and a reception that will include tastings and best honey competition results.
The cost is $60 per person, with special discounts for UC faculty, staff and students.
Folks attending will definitely walk away with a greater appreciation of honey bees and wild bees.
And a greater appreciation of one of nature's most treasured treats--honey.