Another casualty of the coronavirus pandemic: the annual California Honey Festival, which was scheduled May 2 in historic downtown Woodland.
This year would have been the fourth annual.
But, of course, and rightfully so, the cancellation is for our protection. It needed “not to happen.”
The California Honey Festivalevent, launched in 2017 and sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, is an all-day, free festival that usually draws a crowd of some 30,000.
The event aims to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival-goers learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Major issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
Yes, those major issues still face the bees. But now we humans face a major issue of our own: a deadly virus. We are sheltering-in and social distancing. Bees are social insects and are out foraging for nectar, pollen, propolis and water. Their colony is one huge superorganism, with a queen bee, workers and drones. They all depend on one another to make the hive run smoothly. No queen bee, no colony. No workers, no colony. No drones, no colony.
As of 4:30 p.m. today, Covid-19 has infected more than 1.9 million people, and sadly, more than 118,000 people worldwide have perished, according to Johns Hopkins University. Reportedly, the United States is “nearing the peak right now.”
Stay safe out there!
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology operates and maintains the half-acre bee garden, located on Bee Biology Road next to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, west of the central campus. It is open from dawn to dusk; admission is free.
The garden is directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and managed by Christine Casey, academic program management officer.
While parents learned about bees and plants, youngsters engaged in a catch-a-bee-release-the-bee activity in the vegetation, using a bee vacuum. They scooped up the foragers, looked at them, and released them.
"Hey, I caught the queen bee," said one boy, unaware that the queen was in her hive, busily laying eggs. During the busy season, a queen bee can lay about 1000 eggs a day, and during the peak season, about 2000 eggs a day.
The garden, installed in the fall of 2009, was founded and "came 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 half-acre bee garden is anchored by Miss Bee Haven, a six-foot long mosaic ceramic bee sculpture that is the work of self-described "rock artist" Donna Billick of Davis. She and entomologist/artist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-directed the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program. 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.
The garden is named for the primary donor, the premium ice cream brand, Haagen-Dazs. Other major donors include the California State Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (under the leadership of then State Regent Debra Jamison of Fresno). Names of many of the donors--those who gave $1000 or more--are inscribed beneath the Miss Bee Haven sculpture.
Missy Borel Gable, now director of the statewide UC California Master Gardeners' Program, served as the founding manager of the garden. Under her leadership and the work of the 19 founding volunteers, the bee garden was listed as one of the Sacramento Bee's top 10 garden destinations. The 19 volunteers chalked up 5,229 hours of service between May 2010 and Feb. 15, 2013, when they opted for other opportunities. At the $10 minimum wage, that would have amounted to $52,290.
Native bee specialist Robbin Thorp (1933-2019) distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis, identified more than 80 bee species in the garden.
Today diversity continues. An addition to the garden since its installation is a live bee colony.
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.
Now you can!
Those enrolling in the “Wax Working, Honey and Hive Products,” a first-of-its-kind class offered by the Elina Niño lab at the University of California, Davis, will learn how wax is made, how to collect it, how to process it, and how to make their own wax products such as candles and wax reusable food wraps.
The class, set from 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Center on Bee Biology Road, will be taught by Extension apicuturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty and director of the California Master Beekeeper Program, and lab assistants Robin Lowery and Nissa Svetlana Coit.
“Robin and Nissa will be leading us through the practical part of the wax working day,” announced Wendy Mather, program manager of the California Master Beekeepers Program. “This class is perfect for the hobby and sideline beekeeper and for other individuals interested in learning the basics of working with wax.”
The instructors said the class "will be a creative and science-based class learning the what, why and how of beeswax, making candles, lotion bars, beeswax food wraps, lip balm and dipped flowers to take home.” The products are wonderful for holiday gifting, they said.
As a bonus, the instructors will provide an overview of the honey extraction process, and learn bottling, labeling rules and regulations, and how to perform a honey tasting.
Class participants will have an opportunity to make candles with wicks, use molds, pour wax into jars or cans, dip flowers in wax, and make hand lotion, chapsticks, and wax reusable food wraps.
The two lab assistants are daily exposed to bees, beekeeping, and all things related to honey bee husbandry, said Mather. Lowery, a two-year beekeeper, assists with managing the apiary and the research at the E. L. Nino lab. "She has been making gifts for special occasions for over 15 years and looks forward to modeling how to dip and roll candles, make sealing wax, lotion and lip balm, and wax food wrappers," Mather said.
Beeswax is a natural wax produced by worker honey bees, which have eight wax-producing glands in the abdominal segments. Hive workers collect the wax and use it to form cells for honey storage and for larval and pupal protection. When beekeepers extract the honey, they remove the wax caps from the honeycomb frame with an uncapping knife or machine.
Beewax has long been used for making candles (they are cleaner, brighter and burn longer than other candles) and for cosmetics and encaustic paintings. Wax food wrappers, used to wrap sandwiches and cover bowls of food, are environmentally friendly, sustainable, economical, and a reusable alternative to plastic bags. Statistics show that globally, people use an estimated one trillion single-use bags every year, or nearly 2 million a minute. While beeswax is a natural wax, plastic bags and plastic bags contain chemicals, and there is concern that chemicals can leach into the food.
The $235 registration fee covers a continental breakfast, snacks, lunch and refreshments, and materials. Participants make and take two of each item. The registration deadline is Nov. 23, said Mather, who may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. To register, access https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/589.
Like all insects, it has a head, thorax and abdomen. But are you familiar with the rest of its anatomy?
Here's an opportunity to learn about "Advanced Anatomy and Physiology of the Honey Bee" in a class offered Saturday, Oct. 19 by the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP).
The daylong course, to be conducted by CAMBP director and Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will take place at the Harry Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus.
This course covers the scientific "hands-on" portion of the journey level of the CAMBP. "We will offer the attendees an opportunity to familiarize themselves with dissecting tools and microscopy, examine specimens under the microscope and perform dissections," Niño said. "Participants will explore in detail the anatomy and physiology of the honey bee.
This course ends at 4:30 but usually folks linger until 5 to ask questions or share experiences. The $200 registration fee includes the continental breakfast, snacks, and a catered lunch. Click here to register.
The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. The Master Beekeepers serve as knowledgeable ambassadors who disseminate science-based information about the importance of honey bees, preserving bee health and responsible beekeeping.
"We've just completed our apprentice exams for this year!" said Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMBP. "In 2019 we have 26 new CAMBP apprentices in San Diego, 34 in Davis, and we are welcoming our first 22 journey level members!"