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."
And what better time for the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology to host an open house than during National Pollinator Week?
It's from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturday, June 23 at its bee garden, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus.
Here's what you can expect to see or do:
- learn how to catch and observe bees up close
- see honey bees at work in an observation beehive
- learn about bee diversity and identification
- learn about what and how to plant for bees
- learn about growing and good pollination in home fruit gardens
- see easy-to-grow bee plants and solitary bee houses available for a donation to the garden.
A Little History: The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, installed in the fall of 2009 and located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, off Hopkins Road, is a half-acre garden devoted to bee pollinator conservation and education.
It was founded and sprang to life during the term of interim department chair, Professor Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology, who coordinated the entire project.
A Sausalito team – landscape architects Donald Sibbett and Ann F. Baker, interpretative planner Jessica Brainard and exhibit designer Chika Kurotaki – won the design competition. The judges were Professor Kimsey; founding garden manager Missy Borel (now Missy Borel Gable), then of the California Center for Urban Horticulture; David Fujino, executive director, California Center for Urban Horticulture at UC Davis; Aaron Majors, construction department manager, Cagwin & Dorward Landscape Contractors, based in Novato; Diane McIntyre, senior public relations manager, Häagen-Dazs ice cream; Heath Schenker, professor of environmental design, UC Davis; Jacob Voit, sustainability manager and construction project manager, Cagwin and Dorward Landscape Contractors; and Kathy Keatley Garvey, communications specialist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Others with a key role in the founding and "look" of the garden included the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, founded and directed by the duo of entomologist/artist Diane Ullman, professor and former chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, and self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long worker bee sculpture, the work of Billick, anchors the garden. The art in the garden is the work of their students, ranging from those in Entomology 1 class to community residents. Eagle Scout Derek Tully planned, organized and built a state-of-the-art fence around the garden.
Today. Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, serves as the faculty advisor and director of the garden. Staff member Christine Casey is the academic program management officer. Native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, plays a key role in the garden. Thorp has recorded more than 80 species of bees foraging in the garden since 2009. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: An Identification Guide (Princeton University Press) and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists (Heyday). Of the 20,000 bee species identified worldwide, some 4000 are found in the United States, and 1600 in California.
As temperatures climbed into the seventies last Saturday, honey bees foraged in the California native plant, Brandegee's sage (Salvia brandegeei). and pollinated the almond blossoms.
It seemed like spring.
Nearly 600 visitors crowded into the half-acre bee demonstration garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven during the seventh annual UC Davis Biodioversity Museum Day. The haven was one of 13 museums or collections offering special activities.
Visitors learned about bees, engaged in a catch-and-release bee activity with a vacuum device and made "feed-the-bees" seed cookies to take home.
The haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is located on Bee Biology Road, next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. A six-foot-long bee sculpture, Miss Beehaven, by artist Donna Billick, co-founder and co-director of the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, anchors the garden. Other art, coordinated by entomology professor Diana Ullman, co-founder and director of the Art/Science Fusion Program, and Billick, also graces the garden.
The haven, installed in the fall of 2009, was named for its principal donor, the premium ice cream brand, Häagen-Dazs. Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the faculty director of the haven, and Christine Casey, academic program management officer, serves as the staff manager.
You can find out Wednesday, Oct. 12 at a program on "Bees and Climate Change” at the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
The event, set from noon to 1:30 p.m--and free and open to the public--will include a tour and two speeches. Christine Casey, manager of the honey bee haven, will discuss “Climate Change and the Bee Garden," and Robbin Thorp distinguished emeritus professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will cover "Effects of Climate Change on Native Bees."
This is part of the 2016-17 Campus Community Book Project, spotlighting Raj Patel's Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System.
The haven, part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was installed in the fall of 2009 following a generous donation from Häagen-Dazs, known for its premium ice cream. Approximately half of the company's flavors depend on bee pollination.
The Oct. 12th event is part of a series of tours and open houses scheduled the week of Oct. 11-13. Other tours and open houses for Oct. 11-13:
Tuesday, Oct. 11
Exploring Horticulture Innovations
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Horticulture Innovation Lab Demonstration Center
Tour the low-cost, agricultural technologies that UC Davis researchers are using around the world. Edible plant giveaway to the first 20 visitors.
Wednesday, Oct. 12
Student Farm Tour and Harvest
9 to 10:30 a.m., Student Farm
Join the Student Farm for a special tour and harvest demonstration. Campus and community members are all welcome!
Thursday, Oct. 13
Arboretum Edible Campus Project and World Food Day Information Session
Noon to 1:30 p.m., Plant and Environmental Sciences Salad Bowl Garden
Tour the Salad Bowl Garden and learn more about the Arboretum Edible Campus Project in celebration of World Food Day, which will be Sunday, Oct. 16.
Another upcoming event affiliated with the Campus Community Book Project will feature agricultural entomologist Christian Nansen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. He will speak on "Urban Food Production in the Digital Age--Local Empowerment and Sustainability, on Wednesday, Jan. 18 from noon to 1 p.m. in the Memorial Union.
Those are just some of the events calendared for the academic year and showcasing the Campus Community Book Project. See more events here.
The Campus Community Book Project aims to promote dialogue and build community by encouraging diverse members of the campus and surrounding communities to read the same book and attend related events. The book project advances the Office of Campus Community Relations (OCCR) mission to improve both the campus climate and community relations, to foster diversity and to promote equity and inclusiveness.
For more information on the Campus Community Book Project, visit ccbp.ucdavis.edu.
The haven, located next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central UC Davis campus, will celebrate with an open house that night from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The garden tour begins r at 6. Free sunflower plants will be given while they last. Parking is free.
- Learn how to catch and observe bees up close, and see honey bees at work in an observation beehive.
- Hear from experts on such subjects as bee diversity and identification, and how to create a garden to help bees.
- Listen to children's book readings about bees and gardens
The half-acre Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven was installed in the fall of 2009 under the leadership of then interim Entomology Department chair Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology. Fast forward to today. Christine Casey serves as the staff director of the haven, and Extension apiculturist Elina Niño is the faculty director.
There is much to see at the haven. A six-foot-long worker bee sculpture anchors the garden. It is the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick, who specializes in mosaic ceramic art. Billick and UC Davis entomology professor Diane Ullman co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, which spearheaded the student/community art in the garden. See history of the garden.
And National Public Gardens Day? What is it? The sponsor, the American Public Gardens Association, "serves public gardens and advances them as leaders, advocates, and innovators." As told on the website: "
"A public garden is an institution that maintains collections of plants for the purposes of public education and enjoyment, in addition to research, conservation, and higher learning. It must be open to the public and the garden's resources and accommodations must be made to all visitors."
The Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven is open from dawn to dusk. Admission is free. Check out the website for group tours and educational information, including what's planted in the garden and helpful hints about what you can plant in yours.