Beekeeper Clay Ford, who owns the Pleasants Valley Honey Company, also known as "Clay's Bees," is devastated.
Gone, millions of bees. At an average of 60,000 per hive, that's about 3.9 million bees.
The estimated loss: about $30,000.
And that stings.
Ford launched the Pleasants Valley Honey Co., 10 years ago with his wife Karen. A member of the Pleasants Valley Agricultural Association, he is a familiar face at the Vacaville Farmers' Market and at University of California, Davis conferences hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
National award-winning photographer Paul Kuroda of Piedmont photographed the raging fire and the melted bee boxes and honeycombs. "I didn't get stung," Kuroda said. "I heard they go for eyes and mouth, so I put on goggles with my mask."
"And one followed me into my van," Kuroda related. "(It) took a ride with me, but...(it was) only half a mile." (See his fire images.)
Clay loves his bees and the family history of beekeeping. "My great-great grandfather in New Hampshire was a beekeeper," he said. (See his video on YouTube)
"But anyways once getting to know the craft and the bees, really there's almost nothing better, in my opinion, than to open a hive in the mid-spring with a little bit of nectar flowing. You open it up and the bees are just sort of sitting there humming...I mean it's absolutely wonderful."
At the Vacaville Farmers' Market, he sells several honey varietals, including orange blossom, blackberry, starthistle, wildflower and lavender.
But now the Vacaville bees are mostly gone. His out-of-town hives remain at a lavender farm, Araceli Farms, in nearby Dixon. (In a Bug Squad blog last June, we toured the lavender farm during Lavender Day and mentioned his Cordovan bees, "the color of pure gold.")
Clay also rents his bees to almond growers during the pollination season, but he won't this year. It's time to rebuild.
"Next year I'll be 60," he said. He and Karen will be rebuilding the boxes, replacing the equipment and recovering from the tragic loss of the Vacaville Fire.
Friends, neighbors, the beekeeping community and others who want to help Clay's Bees recover, can contact him at email@example.com, access his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ClaysBees/, or text him at (707)-681-9397. VENMO: @Clay-Ford-5. Or checks can be mailed to Clay's Bees at 212 Brookdale Drive, Apt., 1, Vacaville, Calif. 95687. Contact the Pleasants Valley Agricultural Association for more information on how to help the other farmers who lost their livelihoods and the residents who lost their homes.
Yes, you can.
If you've been wondering if there's still room for you at the innovative UC Davis symposium on "Saving a Bug's Life: Legal Solutions to Combat Insect Biodiversity Decline and the Sixth Mass Extinction," the answer is yes.
The free public event, set from 8:30 to 6:30 p.m., Friday, March 6 in Room 1001 of the School of Law, 400 Mrak Ave., is sponsored by UC Davis Environmental Law Society (ELS), and aims to bring together law and science to address insect biodiversity decline. You can register in advance on the Facebook page, or just show up at the symposium, according to co-chairs Kelly Beskin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Peter Jansen (email@example.com). The event will include breakfast, lunch and an evening cocktail reception. (Download the agenda.)
The symposium begins at 8:30 a.m. with a breakfast and check-in, followed by opening remarks by Kevin Johnson, dean, UC Davis School of Law; Benjamin Houlton, director, John Muir Institute of the Environment; and Peter Jansen, Environmental Law Society Symposium co-chair, UC Davis School of Law. Charlton Bonham, director, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will deliver the keynote address.
Four separate panels will center on protecting insects and biodiversity:
- The Science of Biodiversity Decline
- Listing Insets Under the California and Federal Endangered Species Acts: Procedures, Protections and Repercussions
- Pesticide Use in Agriculture: Protecting Pollinators and Sustainable Yield
- Protecting Insects and Combating the Sixth Mass Extinction: Best Policies and Practices
Insects have been called "the level pullers of the world." One study estimates that insects contribute more than $57 billion a year to the U.S. economy. However, many species currently face extinction.
Experts in the field of entomology and agricultural sciences will converse with leaders in government, legal scholars and practitioners about the current threat to insect populations "and how we can use legal tools, policy and management practices to combat the sixth mass extinction," Beskin said.
Four UC Davis entomologists are among the speakers:
- Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and professor of entomology, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, whose expertise includes wasps. Kimsey is the "go-to" person in the department when the public requests general insect information.
- Neal Williams, professor and pollination ecologist, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who focuses on native bees.
- Art Shapiro, distinguished professor of evolution and ecology, who has been monitoring the butterfly population of central California since 1972; and
- Brendon Boudinot, doctoral candidate and ant specialist, Phil Ward lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
During the lunch time, the Bohart Museum of Entomology will provide an insect fair. Senior museum scientist Steve Heydon of the Bohart will showcase insect specimens as well as a live "petting zoo," including Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks, and tarantulas. Also scheduled is honey tasting from the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris. Graduate students will display their research projects, and the Entomology Graduate Student Association will be offering insect-themed t-shirts for sale. In addition, cricket protein bars will be handed out to all those interested.
Sponsors, in addition to ELS, include the California Environmental Law and Policy Center; UC Davis John Muir Institute of the Environment and the UC Davis School of Law.
Mark your calendar to "save a bug's life." It promises to be an educational and fun event.
You're in luck. UC Davis has you covered.
Want to buy the Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel? Check.
Want to buy honey (wildflower, orange blossom, coriander)? Check.
Want insect/floral photography notecards? Check.
Want insect collecting equipment, books, jewelry, candy, posters and t-shirts? Check.
Want t-shirts designed by entomology graduate students? Check.
Want to take beekeeping classes? Check.
Just access these UC Davis pages: the Honey and Pollination Center, the Bohart Museum of Entomology, the Entomology Graduate Students' Association, and the UC Davis Bee lab of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño.
Here's a sampling of what the Honey and Pollination Center is offering:
- Honey Flavor and Aroma Wheel: "Learn how to describe your honey tasting experience using the groundbreaking Honey Flavor Wheel, published by the Honey and Pollination Center," says Amina Harris, director. "The wheel gives a huge lexicon to the tastes and aromas we find when tasting honey. The wheel production follows six months of research and development."
- UC Davis Wildflower Honey: This is a natural, light and floral Northern California wildflower honey collected throughout the Sacramento Valley.
- UC Davis Orange Blossom Honey: "Orange Blossom Honey celebrates a long history in California," relates Harris. "The first trees were planted in Mexican Los Angeles in 1835 by William Wolfskill. A short while later, William and his brother John planted citrus and grapes just outside of Winters, Calif. at Rancho de los Putos, later renamed the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards. In 1934, 107 acres of the ranch were deeded to the University. Today, Wolfskill Ranch is home to the USDA National Germplasm Repository, a living library of fruit, and an integral part of UC Davis."
- UC Davis Coriander Honey: Harris describes this as "a unique savory-first honey with hints of spices from the east (cardamom, coriander) and a gentle undercurrent of chocolate." Coriander is also known as cilantro. (And if you see bees on the cilantro, check out the pink pollen!)
- Stunning Photography Notecards: These insect and floral note cards (package of eight) "make a wonderful gift," Harris says. The photography is by Kathy Keatley Garvey, who donated the photos for the cards. The photos include California buckeye butterfy on sedum; Western tiger swallowtail butterfly on Mexican sunflower; yellow-faced bumble bee on red buckwheat; monarch butterfly and honey bee on Mexican sunflower, honey bee visiting a tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii), hover fly (syrphid) on Galliardia, male green sweat bee on a seaside daisy, and afemale sweat bee on a purple coneflower.
- Insect-themed jewelry (lots of bee and butterfly earrings)
- Insect-themed candy (great stocking stuffers)
- Insect collecting equipment (try your hand at netting butterflies)
- Books, including such topics as bumble bees, bees, and the state insect--the California dogface butterfly (good reading!)
- Dragonfly and butterfly posters (suitable for framing)
- Stuffed animal toys (insects!)
- T-shirts, featuring dragonflies, butterflies and beetles (so colorful, too!)
And this is unique: you can also name an insect after you or for a loved one through the Bohart's biolegacy program.
The Entomology Graduate Students' Association (EGSA) features innovative, award-winning t-shirts and onesies. All designs are winners, in that they won an annual EGSA contest. The organization is run by and for graduate students who study insect systems. Their objectives are to connect students from across disciplines, inform students of and provide opportunities for academic success, and to serve as a bridge between the students and administration.
Among the design themes (access the website to order):
- Honey bees (our favorite insect!)
- Bug on a bicycle (that would be a wasp on a penny farthing or high wheel bicycle)
- Weevil (see no weevil, hear no weevil, speak no weevil)
- The Beetles (parody of The Beatles crossing Abbey Road)
- Wanna-bees (Hemaris diffinis or snowberry clearing moth masquerading as a bee)
The UC Davis Bee lab of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño is offering a variety of beekeeping classes, from beginners through advanced. They offer gift certificates for all the classes, which begin Saturday, March 24 and continue through June 16.
All courses will take place at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus, beginning Saturday, March 24, with the last one ending June 16.
The schedule and capsule information (also listed on Bug Squad):
- Planning Ahead for Your First Hives:Saturday, March 24
- Working Your Colonies: Sunday, March 25
- Queen-Rearing Techniques Short Course: Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22 course; Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29 course
- Bee-Breeding Basics: Saturday, June 9
- Varroa Management Strategies: Saturday, June 16
The good news is the Honey and Pollination Center, Bohart Museum of Entomology, Entomology Graduate Students' Association offer gifts year-around; you don't have to wait for a holiday! The beekeeping classes are seasonal.
You'll meet scientists, environmentalists and beekeepers; you can brush up on bee friendly plants; and you can learn why honey is "as good as gold."
Yes, excitement is building for the third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, set Sunday, May 7 in the UC Davis Conference Center on Alumni Drive, officials said.
If you haven't registered yet, there's still time. Registration closes on Wednesday, May 3.
Keynote speaker of the event, sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is Steve Sheppard, Thurber Professor of Apiculture and chair of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University (WSU), Pullman, Wash.
Sheppard, who also heads the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory, will speak at 9:45 a.m. on "Bees, Mushrooms and Liquid Nitrogen--What?" His research involves improving honey bee health through breeding and alternative treatment approaches. He specializes in population genetics and evolution of honey bees, insect introductions and mechanisms of genetic differentiation.
The symposium will include speakers, displays of graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, "and much more," according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
The event begins at 9 a.m. with registration and a continental breakfast. Harris and Neal M. Williams, associate professor of entomology, will welcome the crowd at 9:30 a.m.
Santiago Ramirez, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology, will speak on "The Evolution and Chemical Ecology of Orchid Bees" at 10:45 a.m.
Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology will introduce the apprentice-level California Master Beekeepers and present them with pins at 11:30. Niño coordinates the Master Beekeeper Program.
The graduate student poster presentations are at noon. The competition was open to all California university students engaged in pollinator-related research. Educational exhibits also will be spotlighted at noon.
The afternoon program includes a presentation at 1:30 p.m. on "Flowering Crops: A Tricky Treat for Bees" by researcher Maj Rundlöf, International Career Grant Fellow, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, followed by "The New FDA Rule on the Use of Antibiotics in Hives" at 2 p.m. by veterinarian Michael Karle of the Mid-Valley Veterinary Hospital, Oakland.
At 2:30 is the fast-paced and popular "Lightning Round." Each presentation will be four to six minutes long and will be followed by a question-and-answer session, Harris said.
- "Bumble Bee Cognition in the Wild" by Felicity Muth, postdoctoral researcher, Department of Biology, University of Nevada, Reno
- "Habitat Planting for Bees," by the Neal Williams' lab, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology
- "Optical Tagging of Bees to Track Individual Movements in colonies" by Stacey Combes, assistant professor, UC Davis Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior
- "Planet Bee: Citizen Bee Projects" by Debra Tomaszewski, executive director and co-founder of the Bay Area's Planet Bee Foundation
- "Plants and Pesticides: Keeping Bees Healthy with Ornamental Horticulture" by Christine Casey, program representative, Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, UC Davis
The symposium ends with Margaret Lombard, chief executive officer of the National Honey Board, speaking at 3:45 p.m. on "Good as Gold: Growing Opportunities for the Small-Scale Honey Producer."
Winners of the Graduate Student Poster Competition will be announced at 4:15. Awards are first place, $1000; second place, $750; third, $500; and fourth, $250.
To register, access http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2017-bee-symposium. Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
If you're a graduate student engaged in pollinator-related research at a California university, it might pay to present your research poster at the third annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, set Sunday, May 7 in the UC Davis Conference Center.
Not only will you get to showcase your research, but you might share in the $2500 in cash awarded to the winners: first place, $1000; second place, $750; third, $500; and fourth, $250.
The poster competition is part of the all-day informational symposium, themed "Keeping Bees Healthy," sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, said participants in the research poster competition must register by April 10 (see submission form at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/copy_of_GraduatestudentposterSubmission2017.pdf and be present to defend their work before a panel of judges. They will receive complementary registration.
Last year UC Berkeley graduate students Sara Winsemius and Laura Ward won the poster competition with their research on "Exploring Potential Route of Neonicotinoid Exposure within Pollinator Hedgerows Adjacent to Seed-Treated Sunflower."
Other 2016 winners were:
- Second place of $750 went to UC Davis graduate student W. Cameron Jasper for his poster, "Investigating Potential Synergistic Effects of Chronic Exposure to Amitraz and Multiple Pesticides on Honey Bee (Apis mellifera) Survivorship."
- Third place of $500 went to UC Davis graduate student Britney Goodrich for her poster on "Honey Bee Health: Economic Implications for Beekeepers in Almond Pollination."
- Fourth place of $250 went to UC Davis graduate student John Mola for his poster on "Fine Scale Population Genetics and Movement Ecology of the Yellow-Faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenkii).
Judges were a trio of entomologists: Dennis vanEnglesdorp, professor of entomology at the University of Maryland, College Park; Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis; and Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor of entomology, UC Riverside.
General registration for the 2017 Bee Symposium begins Wednesday, March 1 at http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2017-bee-symposium. Open to all interested persons, the symposium is designed for beekeepers of all experience levels, including gardeners, farmers and anyone interested in the world of pollination and bees. The event will include speakers, displays of graduate student research posters, the latest in beekeeping equipment, books, honey, plants, "and much more," Harris said.
This year's keynote speaker is Steve Sheppard, Thurber Professor of Apiculture and chair of the Department of Entomology, Washington State University, Pullman, Wash. Sheppard specializes in population genetics and evolution of honey bees, insect introductions and mechanisms of genetic differentiation. He also heads the Apis Molecular Systematics Laboratory.
Among the other speakers:
- Santiago Ramirez of the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology;
- Extension apiculturist Elina Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology;
- Maj Rundlöf of the Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden, and
- Margaret Lombard, National Honey Board, based in Firestone, Colo.
The day before the symposium--Saturday, May 6--is the inaugural California Honey Festival in downtown Woodland. Coordinated by the Honey and Pollination Center and is free and open to the public.
For more information on the events, contact Amina Harris at email@example.com or (530) 754-9301.