Rome wasn't built in a day.
But learning how to make mead?
You can learn the process from "honey to the bottle all in one day" on Thursday, Jan. 23 at the University of California, Davis.
Mead, the world's oldest alcoholic beverage, is a fermented blend of pure honey and water. Meadmakers often add fruits and spices to produce a dry, semi-sweet, sweet or even a sparkling mead, according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
Harris just announced that the popular Mead Making Bootcamp course on Jan. 23 will take place from 8 to 4:30 p.m. in the LEED Platinum Teaching and Research Winery, located near the Honey and Pollination Center on Old Davis Road.
Under the direction of Chik Brenneman, former winemaker for the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology along with meadmakers Lily Weichberger of the Oran Mor Meadery, and Dan Slort of Strad Meadery), students will learn how to make mead: "from honey to the bottle all in one day."
The hands-on course, limited to 40, will follow a basic mead recipe. The participants will be divided into small learning groups of 5 to 6 people, each with its own UC Davis leader. Finally, students will bottle the mead made in previous workshops.
As Harris earlier told us: "More and more people are becoming familiar with mead right now. Meaderies are opening at the rate of one every three days here in the United States. And there are quite a few new ones right here in California!"
Reservations for the bootcamp course are underway at https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/591. The fee is $225 per person. Continental breakfast and lunch are included.
While you're at it--registering for the bootcamp course--you can also enroll in two courses that follow:
For more information contact Harris at email@example.com or events manager Liz Luu at firstname.lastname@example.org
In this case, "all systems are sweet."
The three-day certificate course covers "everything in the world of honey," says director Amina Harris. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the RMI Sensory Building.
Attendees will taste, discuss and analyze approximately 40 varieties of honey from across the globe to hearing the latest in bee sting allergy research, Harris says. "The focus is on tasting honey using both the well-known Italian method taught at the Registry of Experts in Bologna alongside our own UC Davis research tasting protocols and techniques."
Joyce Schlachter, director of Food Safety and Quality, Crockett Honey, Tempe, Arizona. She worked in the honey business for 12 years. She audits honey processing facilities in foreign countries, and works with U.S. authorities, including Customs and Border Patrol in identifying fraudulent honey shippers.
Amy Myrdal Miller, nutritionist and owner of Farmer's Daughter Consulting, Sacramento. She is an award-winning dietitian, farmer's daughter, public speaker, author, and president of Farmer's Daughter® Consulting, Inc., an agriculture, food, and culinary communications firm.
Chef Mani Niall of Mani's Test Kitchen "Baker of the Stars." Niall is a professional baker and the author of two cookbooks, "Sweet and Natural Baking" and "Covered in Honey." Mani has traveled the U.S. and Japan, presenting varietal honey cooking demos for culinary students for the National Honey Board.
Orietta Gianjorio, member of the Italian Register of Experts in the Sensory Analysis of Honey. She is a professional taster, sommelier, and international judge of wine, olive oil, chocolate and honey. She launched her career in sensory evaluation 18 years ago at the Italian Sommelier Association.
Among the other instructors:
- Suzanne Teuber, M.D., a UC Davis professor in the Department of Medicine, who focuses on allergies
- Hildegarde Heymann, a world-renowned professor of sensory science, will explain exactly how our sensory apparatus works. (See more)
The introductory course uses sensory evaluation tools and methods to educate participants in the nuances of varietal honey, Harris says. Students will learn about methods of evaluation, stands and quality in this certificate program. It's geared for anyone interested in learning how to critically taste and assess honey. Using standard sensory techniques, packers, chefs, beekeepers, writers, food manufacturers, honey aficionados will learn about the nuances of varietal honey.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty and director of the California Master Beekeeper Program, will provide an update on UC Davis bee research from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on Friday. (See program)
A few openings remain. The fee is $799 for the three-day course.Contact Amina Harris at email@example.com for more information.
Or you can do taste, discuss and analyze that honey during the Sensory Evaluation of Honey Course, hosted Nov. 7-9 by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center in the Robert Mondavi Institute (RMI) on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
The three-day certificate course covers "everything in the world of honey," says director Amina Harris. It takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the RMI Sensory Building. Yes, there's still time to register; a few openings remain.
"Attendees will taste, discuss and analyze approximately 40 varieties of honey from across the globe to hearing the latest in bee sting allergy research," according to the center's press release. "The focus is on tasting honey using both the well-known Italian method taught at the Registry of Experts in Bologna alongside our own UC Davis research tasting protocols and techniques."
Course instructors include:
- Orietta Gianjorio, professional taster of honey certified by the Italian Register of Experts (she also professionally tastes wine, olive oil, chocolate and other commodities)
- Suzanne Teuber, M.D., a UC Davis professor in the Department of Medicine, who focuses on allergies
- Amy Myrdal Miller, a national consulting nutritionist
- Joyce Schlachter, a quality control specialist at Crockett Honey with a direct interest in adulteration
- Mani Niall, a professional chef,, occasional beekeeper and author of “Covered in Honey" and
- Hildegarde Heymann, a world-renowned professor of sensory science, who will explain exactly how our sensory apparatus works.
The introductory course uses sensory evaluation tools and methods to educate participants in the nuances of varietal honey, Harris said. Students will learn about methods of evaluation, stands and quality in this certificate program. It's geared for anyone interested in learning how to critically taste and assess honey. Using standard sensory techniques, packers, chefs, beekeepers, writers, food manufacturers, honey aficionados will learn about the nuances of varietal honey.
Attendees will receive a UC Davis Honey Flavor Wheel and the Center's newly published Honey Journal, in addition to access to all presentations.
Another highlight: members of the UC Davis research team will share results from their honey analysis research. The research includes work in the field of gas chromatography, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR), pollen and the development of a full sensory panel.
She spoke on "The Importance of People in Pollinator Conservation" to a capacity crowd gathered July 18 in the ARC Ballroom.
“Who needs to act?" she asked. "Farmers, governments, conservationists, researchers, the general public and businesses.”
Quoting noted biologist/author E. O. Wilson, Dicks said that insects are “the little things that run the world.”
Dicks began her presentation by chronicling news media accounts of “insectageddon,” which Cambridge fellow Robert Macfarlane defined on Twitter as “the current calamitous population decline of insect species globally, with catastrophic results for life on earth.”
One news story, by environment editor Damian Carrington of The Guardian, warned that "The world's insects are hurtling down the path to extinction, threatening a catastrophic collapse of nature's ecosystems." Carrington, in his Feb. 10, 2019 piece, titled “Plummeting Insect Numbers ‘Threaten Collapse of Nature," wrote that “More than 40 percent of insect species are declining and a third are endangered...The rate of extinction is eight times faster than that of mammals, birds and reptiles. The total mass of insects is falling by a precipitous 2.5% a year, according to the best data available, suggesting they could vanish within a century.”
“Wild insect pollinators have declined in occurrence, diversity, and in some cases, abundance, in Europe and North America,” Dicks told the crowd. “Lack of data for other regions prevents global assessment of status for insect pollinators, but the main drivers of decline are operating everywhere.”
“Why does pollinator decline matter?” she asked. “Eighty-eight percent of wild plant species depend on pollinators. At least half of the crop pollination serves are provided by wild pollinators—half by managed honey bees.”
Farmers, governments, conservationists, researchers, the general public and businesses must get involved, she reiterated.
What Farmers Should Do
For example, she said, farmers should
- Plant flowers for nectar and pollen
- Manage hedges and forest edges for wildlife
- Restore and protect flower-rich native habitats like meadows, scrubland and woodland
- Provide set aside or fallow areas
- Leave field edges and corners to naturally generate
- Provide nesting sites for bees ("bare ground, big old trees and bee hotels")
What the General Public Should Do
The general public's role should be:
- Grow more flowers, shrubs and trees
- Let your garden grow wild
- Cut your grass less often
- Don't disturb insect nest and hibernation spots
- Think carefully about whether to use pesticides
What Governments Should Do
Dicks touched on 10 "pollinator policies" that governments should do:
- Raise pesticide regularly standards
- Promote integrated pest management
- Include indirect and sublethal effects in GM crop risk assessment
- Regulate movement of managed pollinators
- Develop incentives, such as insurance schemes, to help farmers benefit from ecosystem services instead of agrochemicals
- Recognize pollination as an agricultural input in a extension services
- Support diversified farming systems
- Conserve and restore 'green infrastructure” (a network of habitats that pollinators can move between) in agricultural and urban landscapes
- Develop long-term monitoring of pollinators and pollination
- Fund participatory research on improving yields in organic, diversified and ecologically intensive farming
Dicks, in her position at the University of East Anglia, engages in research in entomology, agroecology, management of biodiversity and ecosystem services on farms. (See research profile.)
In addition to addressing pollinator decline and "who needs to act and what should they do," the researcher touched on how to motivate people: "insights from the behavioral sciences; and the importance of local knowledge and culture."
Awareness and Understanding Are Not Sufficient
She offered key insights from behavioral science, noting that "awareness and understanding are not sufficient; decisions are not always rational; social norms are important; peer-to-peer communication within social groups drives behavior change and people must feel ABLE to act in their current context."
Dicks recommended that the attendees become acquainted with the work of the coalition Promote Pollinators (https://promotepollinators.org). An excerpt from the website: "Pollinators play a key role in the conservation of biological diversity, ecosystems, food production and the global economy. The effects of current human activities hamper animal pollination. Promote Pollinators, the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, reaches out to potential new partners to develop and implement national pollinator strategies. The coalition believes that country-led politics can foster policy measures and innovative action on protecting pollinators."
She also cited the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)
Dicks described pollinator decline as "a complex issue." People--including some politicians--have to change to help protect the pollinators and the ecosystem.
How Some Politicians Use Science
Dicks quoted author Mark Avery, former director of conservation at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds: "I have rarely seen a policy argument won through logic and science, even though everybody pretends that they are. No, politicians use science like a drunk uses a lamp post--more for support than for illumination."
The conference, “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” covered 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. (See agenda.)
Dicks keynoted the conference on Thursday morning, July 18, and Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, delivered a keynote address on Friday, July 19, discussing "Bee Nutritional Ecology: From Genes to Landscapes."
Pollination ecologist and professor Neal Williams and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, both of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, co-chaired the conference. Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, and events manager Elizabeth Luu coordinated the four-day event.
Presenters from 15 Countries
Williams said that presenters represented 15 countries: Australia, Thailand, Korea, Japan, Colombia, Brazil, Israel, Mexico, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. "And we had at least one attendee from China--although not presenting."
"This was the fourth International Conference on Pollinator Biology, Health and Policy," Williams said. "Each time we try to add new elements that address emerging challenges and new directions in research. This year's sessions felt as fresh and innovative as ever, adding symposia on climate change, innovative monitoring and data collection, and urban bees. By restricting presenters to those who had not presented in the past six years we also added new voices and perspectives."
"We also grew. In the past the conference has been just under 200 attendees. This year it topped 250, and we had to turn away several people because we simply could not fit more into the space. We added a second evening of posters to provide more time to interact. The response was overwhelming with 112 poster presenters!"
Williams said that the conference "also added more explicit policy elements by creating a set of ViewPOINTS documents summarizing key areas in pollinator biology and heath that target policy makers. This has allowed for collaborative interaction across the attendees and a set of deliverable products from our interactions."
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, coordinated the conference, with events manager Elizabeth "Liz" Luu serving in the lead role.
"It was an amazing team effort pulling it all together," Williams said. "Liz Luu from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center (HRC) was in a word, fantastic, keeping every thing and everyone together. The HPC really showed what it can do and what tremendous value it adds to our campus. The organizing committee worked so well together, sharing the load throughout. A great set of colleagues!"
The next International Pollinator Conference will take place at Pennsylvania State University. Grozinger and Rufus Isaacs of Michigan State University launched the conference in 2012. They are held every third year.
So says beekeeper/journalist Kim Flottum, who has served as the editor of Bee Culture magazine for more than three decades.
Flottum will speak on "So You Want to Be a Beekeeper" at the third annual California Honey Festival on Saturday, May 4 in downtown Woodland, and it's a talk you won't want to miss. He'll speak at 11:30 a.m. on the UC Davis Educational Stage. Admission to the fair is free.
Also in his talk, he'll clue you in on "where to get information, what can go wrong and what can go right," and then you can ask questions.
We asked Flottum why folks should keep bees. They "provide essential pollination, improve the genetics of the wild bee population in the area, ensure native plant populations," he said, "and because there is absolutely nothing more calming, soothing, enjoyable than being a part of that civilization, right in your backyard."
We remember when Flottum, who lives in northeast Ohio, addressed the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, held in 2017 at UC Davis. He predicted that the nation's 250,000 beekeepers (who manage around 4 million colonies) will turn into a million beekeepers in five years.
Flottum applauded "the incredible rise of new beekeepers in the last 10 years." He launched the magazine BEEKeeping, Your First Three Years, several years ago.
Beekeepers are becoming more and more diverse, specializing in honey production, pollination services and queen bee breeding. Pollination services and queen bee breeding are the most profitable, Flottum said. Honey, not so much.
"If I'm in beekeeping, pollination services is sure bet," he said. "Beekeepers now get 200 bucks a colony for almond pollination in California. Pollination is more profitable than honey. Bee breeding? Queens can sell for as much as $40 or $50."
"In the United States, we eat on the average 1.2 pounds a year, but in Canada, it's 2.5 or 2.4 pounds." He lamented that unsafe and/or questionable honey from China floods our nation's supermarkets and is being sold at undercut prices. (Some statistics indicate that a "third or more of all the honey consumed in the U.S. is likely to have been smuggled in from China and may be tainted with illegal antibiotics and heavy metals"--Food Safety News.)
It's important for American beekeepers to label their honey "Made in America" or localize it by city or state, he said.
Flottum also touched on such issues as honey bee health, nutrition, loss of habitat, poor quality forage, and pesticides.
The varroa mite/virus is the No. 1 problem for beekeepers, he said. "Other stresses include nutrition, nosema, pesticides...All of these can be fixed with money, increased diversity of bee stock, and a move way from both ag and in-hive legal and illegal chemicals."
The California Honey Festival, sponsored by the City of Woodland the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will include scores of activities, from honey tasting to live music. Among the events: a cooking stage, the UC Davis educational stage, a kids' zone, a refreshment zone (beer and mead, which is honey wine) and live entertainment. (See the schedule)
UC Davis Educational Stage
- 10:15 a.m. "What is a Bee City?" by Kitty Bolte of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation
- 11 a.m. Bee Tent Demonstration, by staff research associate Bernardo Niño of the Elina Niño lab, UC Davis, who will open a hive inside a screened tent
- 11:30 a.m. "So, You Want to be a Beekeeper?" by Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture
- 12:30 p.m. "The Huge Impact of Native Bees" by pollination ecologist and professor Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- 1:15 p.m. Bee Tent Demonstration by Bernardo Niño
- 2 p.m. "Mead: The Oldest Alcoholic Beverage Known to Man...so What Is It?" Dan Slord
- 2:45 p.m. "Gardening the Urban Landscape" by Christine Casey, manager of the UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven
- 3:30 p.m. Bee Tent Demonstration by Bernardo Niño
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, said that Kitty Bolte, the first speaker on the UC Davis Educational Stage, will welcome Woodand as a "Bee City." Plans also call for UC Davis to be named "Bee University" on Saturday, Harris said. "Rachel Davis, director of the Gateway Gardens, Arboretum has been spearheading this designation."
Master beekeepers in the California Master Beekeeper Program, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, will share information on bees and beekeeping throughout the festival. Bernardo Niño is the educational supervisor, and Wendy Mather serves as the program manager.
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven will feature a pollinator garden installation highlighting what and how to plant for pollinators, along with displays about common bees found in gardens, according to Christine Casey, academic program management officer who manages the bee garden on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
Launched in 2017, the festival aims to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, according Harris. Last year's festival drew 30,000 people and some 16 California honey companies.
The California Honey Festival's mission: 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.
As it expands from year to year, with more speakers, vendors, entertainment and family-friendly activities, the California Honey Festival is the place to "bee."