Make way for the Good Food Awards competition, opening July 6.
This year is the second consecutive year for the honey category. Last year more than 50 beekeepers from throughout the United States entered their honey.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, is chairing the committee. She's joined by fellow members Emily Brown, owner of AZ Queen Bee and winner of a 2014 Good Food Award in Honey; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine; Marina Marchese, founder of the American Honey Tasting Society and co-author (with Kim Flottum) of The Honey Connoisseur; and Mea McNeil, writer, beekeeper and organic farmer.
Here's what Harris advises:
- Put July 6, 2015 (sometime in the afternoon) on your calendar
- Go to the website: http://www.goodfoodawards.org/
- Click on the ‘Honey' link to read the NEW criteria (also listed below)
- Click on Entrant Information to download a form.
So, what are the rules? Among them:
- All honey must be the bona fide produce of the entrant's own bees.
- It must be harvested between August 2014 – August 2015.
- It must be extracted with minimal heat (100°) and after extraction, not exposed to heat greater than 120°.
- It must be strained and/or filtered to leave in pollen.
- It can be made with inclusions (such as fruit, alcohol and herbs):
- That grow domestically, inclusions are locally sourced wherever possible; traceable; and grown without synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers.
- That are not grown domestically on a commercial scale; they are farm-direct, certified organic, or Fair Trade certified.
- It must be produced in the United States
There are other rules as well, including being responsibly reproduced.
Is honey the nectar of the gods? Or the soul of a field of flowers? Both. How many flowers must honey bees tap to make one pound of honey? Two million, according to the National Honey Board. The average worker honey bee makes only 1/12 of a teaspoon in her lifetime. How long have bees been producing honey from flowering plants? 10-20 million years. How many flowers does a honey bee visit during one collection trip? 50-100. See more questions here.
The Good Food Awards, according to its website, is all about celebrating "tasty, authentic and responsibly produced foods." The organization presents the awards at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. This year, the sixth annual, will include 13 categories: beer, cider, charcuterie, cheese, chocolate, coffee, confections, honey, pickles, preserves, spirits, oil and the newest category, pantry. Awards will be given to producers and their food communities from each of five regions of the U.S.
Meanwhile, Amina Harris says we're tasting honey all wrong! Read the interview in Civil Eats.
One of the most prominent and distant--as in far away--visitors to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, the half-acre bee friendly garden on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis, was Mark Leech of Launceston, Tasmania, Australia.
Leech visited the garden several years ago to research his book, Bee Friendly: A Planting Guide for European Honeybees and Australia Native Pollinators for the Australian Rural Industries R&D Corp (RIRDC).
"The book," he told us, "is to encourage planting for bee forage across the landscape from urban to the rural environment and all climate zones."
Leech recently provided us with a copy of the finished work, which is absolutely magnificent. It's informative, educational and colorful and is bound to make a difference.
On Page 1, he writes: "The world has become aware of the plight of the honeybee. The reported collapse of honeybee population in North America and Europe, and the fear of a food crisis, have led people around the world to become concerned. Shrinking resources, increased urbanization, ever expanding corporate agriculture with its push for monoculture, greater use of insecticides and herbicides, changes to grazing practices, a global warning trend and climatic chare are all placing pressure on honeybee and native pollinator population. It is in this context that this book was produced, to guide planting decisions in favour of plants theat benefit honeybees and native pollinatiors."
He devotes one page to the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, which was planted in the fall of 2009 and is operated by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "In response to colony collapse and threats to the US apiary industry, Häagen-Dazs, a well-known ice cream brand, launched the Häagen-Dazs Loves HoneyBees' campaign in February 2008, committing significant funding to both the University of California, Davis and Pennsylvania State University for honeybee research. Its contribution to UC Davis resulted in a bee garden as a demonstration, education and research tool."
"The purpose of the Honeybee Haven garden is to provide a year-round food source for honeybees," Leech continued. "One of the design criteria in the competition that was held was that the Honeybee Haven should inspire the development of honeybee garens in a variety of settings, including backyards, public gardens, agricultural easements, urban rooftoops and other urban species."
For the front and back covers of the book, Leech chose an mage of a bee foraging on a pink zinnia (a photo taken by yours truly in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven).
His species pages contain 193 species, native and exotic, "that were chosen to represent a selection of useful bee forage. Many of the plants are known as top producers of both pollen and nectar, a few are nectar only, and some are pollen only."
Among those contributing to the book from the United States: Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture; bee scientist Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota; and Kathy Kellison, executive director of Partners for Sustainable Pollination.
It's a book well worth reading. You can download a free PDF of the book from the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation website at http://www.rirdc.gov.au/. Go to publications and look under honeybees. You can also order a bound copy through Mark Leech at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ever seen honey bees foraging for water on your outdoor clothesline?
When Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis, addresses beekeeping associations, he tells them to "always provide water for your bees on your property. Otherwise, they will visit the neighbor's hanging laundry, bird bath, swamp cooler, dog dish, leaky hose connection, etc."
Bees collect nectar, pollen, propolis (plant resin) and water for their colonies. On very hot days, you'll see scores of bees at a water fountain, bird bath, or pond.
Kim Flottum, editor of the Bee Culture magazine, writes in his book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden: "A summer colony needs at least a quart (liter) of water every day, and even more when it's warm."
Flottum points out: "Water is as necessary to your bees as it is to your pets and to you. Whatever watering technique you choose for your bees, the goal is to provide a continuous supply of fresh water. This means while you are on vacation for a couple of weeks, when you get busy and forget to check, and especially when it's really, really hot--bees always need water."
With temperatures soaring to 100 degrees today in Yolo and Solano counties, that's good advice.
Mussen and Flottum acknowledge that bees are industrious and will find water somewhere even if their regular source is unavailable. "Water is used to dissolve crystallized honey, to dilute honey when producing larval food, for evaporation cooling during warm weather, and for a cool drink on a hot day," Flottum writes in his book.
We've watched bees gathering water from our bird bath. We've seen hawks, doves, squirrels, crows, finches and bees sipping water there--as well as our cat, Xena the Warrior Princess. Not all at the same time, though! The Cooper's Hawk reigns supreme.
At the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, bees can sip water from a slanted board propped against a slowly dripping faucet, or from the specially designed watering devices at the nearby Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden that doubles as an educational resource.
Bees know exactly where to return for the same water source. "Foragers seem to seek water sources that are scented," Flottum says.
This could be from a roadside ditch, storm drain, fish pond, dog dish or bird bath.
"Foragers will mark unscented sources of water with their Nasonov pheromone so others can locate the source too," Flottum writes.
Flottum's book is one of the "must-have" books for a beekeeper's library or for anyone wanting to learn more about bees.
You can read more about bees in Mussen's newsletters, from the UC apiaries, posted on his website.
So, get ready for Bee-a-Thon 3!
The free multimedia event will begin online with a series of videos about honey bees and other members of the Microcosm, including videos created by Brady and clips from previous Bee-a-Thons.
UC Davis will be represented by Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman and artist Donna Billick, co-founders and co-directors of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. Mussen, a member of the department since 1976, is world-renowned for his honey bee expertise. Ullman is the associate dean of undergraduate academic programs in the UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and a professor of entomology.
Among the others to be interviewed will be Kim Flottum, longtime editor of Bee Culture magazine; Ria de Grassi, director of federal policy, California Farm Bureau; Eddie Dunbar, founder of the Insect Sciences Museum of California; Celeste Ets-Hokin, creator of the Pollinator Gardens at Lake Merritt, Oakland; and Mike Somers, state director of Pesticide Watch and the Pesticide Watch Education Fund.
The schedule includes:
- a pollination fundraising luncheon, with a honey-inspired menu, from noon to 1 p.m. at Monticello Seasonal Cuisine, 630 G St. (not broadcast).
- fruit presentations from 1 to 1:30 p.m. at the Davis Food Co-Op, 620 G St.; (not broadcast)
- a live broadcast from 2 to 4 p.m. on Davis Community Television public access Channel 15
- a radio/video feed from KDRT, 95.7 FM, from 4 to 6 p.m.
- BATMAP (Bee-a-Thon Monster After Party) billed as the world’s first Pollinator Party from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Davis Media Access, 1623 Fifth St., and featuring music by Eminent Bee. Admission is free, but guests must come adorned as an insect, spider or flower.
- a lounge chat from 10 p.m. to midnight at deVere’s Irish Pub, 217 E St.
Brady says the art-science event is designed to ignite a community about the full story about honey bees and other pollinators — "not just the science, but the art, the anthropology, the technology and design, the pop culture."
“The interdependence we have with insects — especially bees — is profound and complex and most people are only discussing half the story," said Brady, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hiram (Ohio) College. "The key word is biocomplexity — how human behavior fits into the global ecology. It’s also about how insects inspire and amaze our society. That will all be covered on the show.”
Brady described the Bee-a-Thon as timely; Time magazine just published a cover story on “beepocalpyse.”
We know Emmet Brady to be passionate about honey bees. And we know that the Bee-a-Thon will be educational, informative and entertaining.
When Brady talks about the "wonderful world of pollinators," he's thinking of the simple things we take for granted, the ABCs, if you will.
A honey bee on an Apple.
A honey bee on a Begonia.
A honey bee on a Cucumber.
Often you'll hear kindergarten students asking one another: "What's your favorite color?"
Beekeepers do that, too--in a joking sort of way. Some like to rear the blond Italians; some prefer the darker Carniolans, developed from the area of the Carniolan Alps in southeastern Europe; and others opt for the even darker bees, the Caucasians, originating from the Caucasus Mountains of eastern Europe.
It's the desirable traits, not the color, though, that really matters.
"More than 20 breeds of bees have been identified, and many of these have been tested by beekeepers for their ability to live in manmade hives, as well as their adaptability to the moderate climates of the world," writes Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum in his excellent book, The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden.
"Many species," Flottum continues in his book, "have been abandoned by beekeepers because they possess undesirable traits, such as excessive swarming, poor food-storage traits, or extreme nest protection."
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, who has a dual appointment with the University of California, Davis and Washington State University, is partial to her New World Carniolans, a bee line she established.
Overall, the Carniolans are known as a good colder-weather bee. The Italians, though, are the most common bee in the United States. Sometimes you'll see an Italian bee so blond it's lemony.
Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, chair of the California State Apiary Board, rears Italians, which leads to good natured-ribbing between her and Cobey about "the best bee."
If you're interested in genetic diversity, mark your calendar for May 2, 2012. Cobey will speak on “Importation of Honey Bee Germplasm to Increase Genetic Diversity in Domestic Breeding Stocks" at her seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m. in 122 Briggs Hall, UC Davis. It's part of a series of seminars that the UC Davis Department of Entomology is sponsoring. Plans are to webcast this; so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, take a look at foraging honey bees in your neighborhood. Like the patchwork coat in the Dolly Parton song, "Coat of Many Colors," you'll see many colors.
Many, many colors. And some belong to young bees with a fuzzy thorax and fresh wings, and some to old bees with a bare thorax and tattered wings.
What's your favorite bee? Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology who maintains an office at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, says that "beauty is only skin (integument) deep."
"I prefer the ones with a good disposition regardless of their external appearance even on a 'bad hair day,'" Thorp says.
As for me, to paraphrase American humorist Will Rogers (1879-1935), "I've never met a bee I didn't like."
I haven't met any of those highly aggressive, super-defensive Africanized bees, though.