Part of the proceeds will benefit the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center and co-owner of Z Specialty Food, will be leading a guided honey tasting at noon each day.
Harris, who co-owns the business with husband Ishai Zeldner and son Josh Zeldner, says the event will include “so many honeys—about 30. New varietals include Arizona Cactus Blossom, California Purple Vetch, Toyon, Hawaiian Wildflower, Raspberry, and Midwestern Basswood."
In addition, the event will showcase mead (honey wine), honey beer, honey fruit spreads, honey in the straw, chocolate nut spreads, olive oil and other foods. There also will be children's activities, tours, giveways, and live music by the Jonny Gold Trio of Davis.
Harris will be offering the Honey Aroma and Flavor Wheel for sale, with proceeds benefitting the Honey and Pollination Center and the Laidlaw facility.
Z Specialty Food is home to Moon Shine Trading Company, Island of the Moon Apiaries, and Cowboy Caviar. Moon Shine Trading packs more than 20 varietal honeys and other gourmet foods.
Some of the rare honeys that are quite popular are coriander and pomegranate, said Ishai Zeldner, the company's founder. This year Z Specialty Food partnered with Woodland's Blue Note Brewing Company to develop a pomegranate honey called "Local Buzz." It, too, will be available for tasting at the open house.
Z Specialty Food will be among the sponsors at the 40th annual Western Apicultural Society (WAS) conference, set Sept. 5-8, 2017 at Davis. Conference participants will tour the Woodland business. WAS was founded by UC Davis bee specialists headquartered at the Laidlaw facility.
If you're a beekeeper in the United States and folks rave about your honey, then you'll want to enter the annual Good Food Awards event. You'll have a chance to win awards--and bragging rights.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, who coordinates the contest, announced that awards will be given in four subcategories: Liquid and Naturally Crystallized, Creamed, Comb, and Infused Honey. The entry period is now underway and ends Sunday, July 31. See criteria on this page.
The contest is divided into five regions--East, South, North, Central and West--with seven or more states assigned to one region, Harris said.
- "West" is California, New Mexico, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Hawaii and Alaska.
- "North" is Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, North and South Dakota and Minnesota
- "Central" is Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky
- "East" is Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland and West Virginia
- "South" is Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Texas
"Finalists from each region are selected on a judging day Sept. 18," Harris explained. "They are vetted according to criteria on this page. Honeys can come from August 1, 2015 – August 31, 2016. Winners are selected during the fall months and announced at the end of the year. The awards will be presented in mid-January."
Harris says there are more than 300 unique types of honey in the United States. The Good Food Awards will showcase honeys most distinctive in clarity and depth of flavor, produced by beekeepers practicing good animal husbandry and social responsibility. The honey can come from hives located in numerous places, from rooftops to fields to backyards.
Last year beekeepers from California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, New York, Oregon and Washington took home the top awards.
Bee Girl, Bee Girl Honey, Oregon
Bee Local, Bee Local Sauvie Honey, Oregon
Bee Squared Apiaries, Rose Honey, Colorado
Bees' Needs, Fabulous Fall, New York
Bloom Honey, Orange Blossom, California
Gold Star Honeybees, Gold Star Honey, Maine
Hani Honey Company, Raw Creamed Wildflower Honey, Florida
Mikolich Family Honey, Sage and Wild Buckwheat, California
MtnHoney, Comb Honey Chunk, Georgia
Posto Bello Apiaries, Honey, Maine
Sequim Bee Farm, Honey, Washington
Simmons Family Honey, Saw Palmetto Honey, Georgia
Two Million Blooms, Raw Honey, Illinois
UrbanBeeSF, Tree Blossom Honey Quince & Tree Blossom Honey Nopa, California
The Honey and Pollination Center is affiliated with the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. For more information, email Harris at email@example.com.
And now you have a chance not only to meet your (mead) maker but learn how to make a small batch of mead.
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center wants you to know that.
Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center, has just announced plans for another "Beginner's Introduction to Mead Making," a short course set Nov. 13-14 in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis campus. Registration is now underway for the course, limited to 75.
From the wine came the grape, from the mead came the honey...
Mead is a beverage rich in history. It dates back 8000 years, Harris says. "Brewers and winemakers know that in the world of alcoholic beverages the buzz is all about mead."
In small groups, participants will work in the university's LEED Platinum Winery to make small batches of mead under the supervision of Chik Brenneman, the winemaker for UC Davis; Mike Faul, proprietor of Rabbit's Foot Meadery in Sunnyvale, Calif.; Ken Schramm, author of The Compleat Meadmaker and owner of Schramm's Mead in Ferndale, Mich.; and Michael Fairbrother, Owner of Moonlight Meadery, based in Londonderry, N. Hamp.
Harris says the center has been working with mead makers from across the United States to offer annual courses that cater to both home crafters and commercial enterprises.
“This course--aimed at the beginner who wants to know more--is the first in a series being developed by faculty in the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and the Honey and Pollination Center,” Harris said. "We plan to offer an intermediate level course in spring of 2016, targeted to those who have recently started meaderies and those who have been making mead for several years.” The intermediate course will offer detailed information about fermentation and yeast selection, chemistry, ingredient selection, sensory expectations and working with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau.
A the Nov. 13-14 short course, a program highlight will be the opportunity for participants "to meet and work with prominent mead makers and teachers in an intimate environment," Harris says. Additionally, attendees are encouraged to bring their home brews to share, taste and evaluate in an informal gathering at a local hotel on Friday evening. “It's a great way to get to know what's out there in the mead world. Two years ago, everyone was trying ‘Ghost Pepper Meads' to see who had the greatest punch.”
The center has been working with individual mead makers, the American Mead Makers Association, the Mazer Cup and GotMead.com for more than two years to meet the needs of both the craft and professional mead makers. To further this effort, the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and the Honey and Pollination Center have submitted a grant to the National Honey Board to investigate paths to a successful mead fermentation.
“With the growing interest in mead today, almost no useable research has been brought forward,” Harris says. “We hope to change that."
Information about registration: http://honey.ucdavis.edu/mead
Fees: $500 through Aug. 31 and $575 thereafter
Want more information about the short course? Contact Amina Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org
The "miel de lavande" produced by "apiculteur Marc Agnel" is creamed, as most lavender honeys are, she says. It arrived in San Francisco from France last week via my relatives (who love it).
"Honey from a specific plant doesn't always taste like the plant," Harris is saying, as she turns the wheel of the center's newly published Honey Flavor Wheel, a project benefitting bee health research at UC Davis. "Sometimes there is a bit of a surprise."
"Have the honey at room temperature, or slightly warmer, and covered," she advises. "This keeps all the volatiles inside the jar or cup."
Her observations about the honey and the procedure:
Aroma: The first scent is very floral with a touch of lilac. The next, overwhelming smell is fruit! Something very juicy.
Next: take a taste. Let the honey sit on your tongue and dissolve slowly. Try to assess all the flavors that might be occurring. floral – lilac; fruity – cherry
Primary taste: This honey is simply sweet.
Texture: This is a smooth and creamy honey. Quite unusual.
Finish: Notice how the taste lasts. This honey is delicate – that is, it has a very light and very distinct flavor. It has a short duration with a lasting aroma that is filled with a bit of cherry, lilac and the first taste of lavender!
“I have always been astonished by the range of flavors in honey. And its aromas, too. Developing the wheel has been an astonishing learning experience at all levels. I now truly pay attention as I taste many different kinds of foods. I notice flavors from beginning to end.
“I had one wonderful surprise during the tasting series," she recalled. "The sensory scientist we worked with, Sue Langstaff, had been to New Zealand and brought back several honeys. One was a wild flower called Viper's Bugloss. What an amazing aroma! Imagine sitting in a garden. The sun has just set. And the heady aromas of jasmine and orange blossom together crowd the air. This is the scent of Viper's Bugloss. An astonishing honey. Now I want more!”
The front of the colorful wheel lists the descriptors, including fruity, floral, herbaceous, woody, spicy, nutty, confectionary, caramel and earthy. No longer can you just say “sweet” when you taste honey or “sour, salty and bitter.” If it's fruity, can you determine if it's berry, citrus, dried fruit, tree fruit or tropical fruit? If it falls into the confectionary category, can you pinpoint marshmallow, vanilla, maple, butterscotch, toffee, molasses, cotton candy, crème brûlée, burnt sugar or brown sugar? There's even an “animal” category” where you may opine that your sample of honey reminds you of a barnyard.
The back of the Honey Flavor Wheel tells you how to taste honey and shares four honey profiles (Florida tupelo, California orange blossom, Northwest blackberry and Midwestern clover) “so the consumer can get an idea of how to use this innovative product,” Harris said.
(Check out the Sacramento Bee's YouTube video on Amina Harris's demonstration of the Honey Flavor Wheel.)
The Honey Flavor Wheel, measuring 8.25 inches, sells for $10 each, with all proceeds supporting bee health research at UC Davis. The product is available online and at several locations: the Honey and Pollination Center, located at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science on Old Davis Road; at the UC Davis Campus Bookstore and at the downtown Davis Campus Bookstore; and online.
There I was, walking across the University of California, Davis, campus to the Environmental Sciences Building for an agricultural communicators' meeting: a notebook in my hand, cell phone in my pocket, and my trusty pocket camera strapped around my neck.
Sometimes it's good not to lug around a 10-pound camera. Not this time, however.
Right inside the soybean planter box, I saw it--an assassin bug spearing what looked like a bee.
This was a predator-prey encounter between the assassin, Zelus renardii, and a bee, which native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis and an instructor of The Bee Course, identified as a male metallic sweat bee, Lasioglossum (Dialictus) sp., possibly L. tegulariforme.
I aimed the tiny camera and grabbed a couple of images before the predator, with prey attached, crawled beneath a soybean leaf.
Assassin bug are predators and don't distinguish between beneficial insects and pests. Still, we like them in our garden because they eat a lot of soft-bodied insect pests like aphids and leafhoppers.
Speaking of eating insects...the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center is sponsoring a "Bugs and Beer" event on Saturday, Nov. 1 in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. It promises to be a cricket-kölsch kind of affair.
Beer expert Charlie Bamforth, Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting and Brewing Sciences at UC Davis, will lead a joint tasting with celebrity bug chef David George Gordon, author of "The Eat-a-Bug" cookbook.
Bamford, known as "The Pope of Foam," is an icon around campus and the beer-brewing world. He's considered one of the country's most intriguing professors, noted Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. And David George Gordon--a fellow with three first names? He's been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time magazine, and the National Georgraphic Kids.
Registration opened Monday (http://www.rmi.ucdavis.edu/events). Tickets are $50, general admission, and $25 for students. And, of course, "Bugs and Beer" is open only to those 21 and over because beer will be served.
We don't know what kind of bugs Gordon will serve, but they probably won't be assassin bugs. Bees, maybe. Specifically, maybe that "Three-Bee Salad?" on his website?