Next July: a major occurrence in the world of pollinators:
UC Davis will host the seventh annual International Pollinator Conference, a four-day conference focusing on pollinator biology health and policy. It is set from Wednesday, July 17 through Saturday, July 20, in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will cover a wide range of topics in pollinator research: from genomics to ecology and their application to land use and management; to breeding of managed bees; and to monitoring of global pollinator populations. Topics discussed will include recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and their policy implications.
Keynote speakers are Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, (the research center launched the annual pollinator conferences in 2012) and Lynn Dicks, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, England.
Grozinger researches health and social behavior in bees and is developing comprehensive approaches to improving pollinator health and reduce declines. Dicks, an internationally respected scientist, studies bee ecology and conservation. She received the 2017 John Spedan Lewis Medal for contributions to insect conservation.
Other speakers include:
- Claudio Gratton, professor, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside
- Scott McArt, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
- Maj Rundlöf, International Career Grant Fellow, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden
- Juliette Osborne, professor and chair, Applied Ecology, University of Exeter, England
- Maggie Douglas, assistant professor, Environmental Studies, Dickinson College
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, is playing a major role in the international conference. The center's events manager, Elizabeth Luu, is serving as the conference coordinator. For more information on the conference, access the UC Davis Honey and Pollination website at https://honey.ucdavis.edu/pollinatorconference2019 and sign up for the newsletter for up-to-date information.
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center can change that!
Want to learn more about the product that honey bees make?
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center is offering a Sensory Evaluation of Honey Certificate Course, Oct. 26-28 in the Mondavi Institute's Sensory Building, located on Old Davis Road.
"This introductory course uses sensory evaluation tools and methods to educate participants in the nuances of varietal honey," according to Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, which is affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "Students will learn about methods of evaluation, stands and quality in this certificate program."
Who should take the course? Anyone interested in learning how to critically taste and assess honey. Attendees will receive a UC Davis Honey Flavor Wheel in addition to a jump drive with all presentations. (See agenda.)
- Taste more than 40 varietals from across the US, Europe and other locales.
- Learn the positive attributes and defects found in honey
- Learn about the science of tasting from UC Davis Sensory faculty
- Learn about labeling laws and their limitations
- Receive an update on the latest UC Davis Sensory research
- Listen to lectures from leading authorities in nutrition, medical science, and adulteration and even a live cooking demonstration on how to use honey in creative ways.
The cooking demonstration features Mani Niall, a former consultant and traveling chef-instructor for the National Honey Board, a sponsor of this year's Honey Sensory Evaluation Course. Niall will explain how to best enhance the flavor of food with different varietal honeys, from savory to sweet. "Mani understands the nuances of honey: when it is important to choose a specific varietal to enhance a recipe and when it is appropriate to use a great wildflower blend," Harris points out.
His recipes also will be served on Saturday and Sunday to the attendees during meals and breaks.
A spectacular pollinator garden that's a "must-see" is Kate Frey's pollinator garden at Sonoma Cornerstone.
Kate Frey, a world-class pollinator garden designer, pollinator advocate and author who addressed the UC Davis Bee Symposium in March on "Designing Bee Friendly Gardens," has created a masterpiece. And yes, the pollinator garden is open to the public--no admission fee.
We visited the garden last Saturday and saw a pipevine swallowtail nectaring on Nepeta tuberosa, yellow-faced bumble bees sipping nectar from Stachys bullata, hummingbirds scoring nectar from salvia, and honey bees foraging on everything from Scabiosa "Fama Blue" to a native milkweed, Asclepias speciosa.
This is a happy place.
As she told the crowd at the Bee Symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: Whether you plant them, nurture them, or walk through them, bee gardens make us happy.
Frey's sign at the Sonoma pollinator garden explains that "All the plants offer food resources of pollen and nectar for pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Pollen is a protein, mineral and fat source and is primarily a larval food for bees, while nectar is composed of various sugars and is the main food for pollinators and the adult life stage of many beneficial insects. Pollinators need a continuous food source for many months of the year. This garden contains a range of plants that will bloom in succession from early spring to late fall."
Frey's sign also noted that "Pollinators all have preferred plants they feed from, and flowers cater to specific pollinators. Some flower shapes are designed to exclude unwanted pollinators. The long, constricted floral tubes of honeysuckles or many salvia exhibit their focus on hummingbirds as primary pollinators. Other flowers nectar, like coffee berry is easily accessible to all pollinators. This garden contains a wide range of plants to appear to a variety of pollinators. Over 80 percent of flowering plants require insect or animal pollination. What insects or birds do you see visiting each flower type?"
Well, let's see: bees, butterflies, and birds...Apis mellifera, Battus philenor, Bombus vosnesenskii, Papilio rutulus, Calypte anna...
"The same plants that support pollinators," Frey indicated on the sign, "also make us happy."
They do! Happiness is a pollinator garden...
Or at least you saw the crowd circling Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The bees buzzed and so did the festival-goers.
Niño presented several "live bee" demonstrations in a circular screened tent. She opened the bee hive, pulled out frames, and showed the crowd the three castes of bees: the queen, worker bees and drones.
Niño talked about beekeeping and what bees need, and then passed a couple of drones through the tent to the crowd. Some gasped, not realizing that drones are males and cannot sting. Other marveled at the docile drones, took cell phone photos and petted them. The drones didn't seem to mind!
All in all, it was a great day for bees at the California Honey Festival, which is annually sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland.
"Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States." The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival goers learned about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
How many attended the festival? About 30,000, said Harris. (That's not counting the bees!) Harris noted that the inaugural festival drew about 20,000. Organizers had expected about 3000. Next year: maybe 40,000 or more?
Be sure to check out the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) newly posted video on the festival, featuring Niño. It's excellent. Although she's based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she's California's Extension apiculturist. We are fortunate to have her! See the UC ANR video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPEdMBYXZY
Resources? The E. L. Niño lab website is at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/.
Their California Master Beekeeper Program is at https://cambp.ucdavis.edu.
You may not be able to get close enough to take a selfie with a honey bee foraging on your flowers, but you'll be able to take a selfie of a bee at the California Honey Festival.
With the costumed bee mascot.
Last year Benji Shade of Woodland Christian High School donned the costume, greeted guests, and posed for photos. And festival goers took selfies with her. "Miss Honey Bee" got into the act, too: she took a selfie with her teacher and festival "escort" Jessica Hiatt.
There will be plenty to photograph at the festival, set from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 5 in downtown Woodland. A free, family friendly event sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland, it will include presentations on honey bees and bumble bees, live music, cooking demonstrations, a beer and wine garden, and a Kids' Zone. You'll learn from world-class bee garden designer and author Kate Frey on what to plant in your garden to attract bees. She and Professor Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University authored the award-winning book, The Bee Friendly Garden.
Have you ever watched a beekeeper open a hive? One of the festival highlights: Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, California's state apiculturist, and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, will present three "live" bee demonstrations in the bee tent. Working in a circular screened tent, Niño will explain exactly how the beehive works. She will show the difference between the queen and the workers and drones, explain how bees draw out wax in the frames and store honey in the cells, talk about how the frames are placed within the hive to maximize the bees' efficiency, and answer questions. Her demonstrations are scheduled for 11:15, 1 p.m. and 3:45 in the bee tent, UC Davis Stage. See complete schedule of events.
The festival was created in 2017 to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center. "Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States. "
The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
Festivals are not only entertaining and educational but are happy, fun-filled occasions.
Hey, Miss Honey Bee, can I take a selfie?