The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) targets the yellow starthistle on its "How to Manage Pests; Pests in Gardens and Landscapes" site.
But in the opinion of many a honey connoisseur (including Eric Mussen, emeritus Extension apiculturist, UC Davis), starthistle makes one of the best honeys.
What about the mead (honey wine) made from starthistle? What's that like?
You can find out at the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center's "Mead Making 201" course, where you'll taste "Star Thistle Ambrosia," from St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah, Mich.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, says you can take take Mead Making 201 "in the comforts of your own home." The online course covers core information including guided tastings with selected meads and honey. "Each participant will go on virtual meadery tours and get to directly ask our mead makers questions."
The online course is scheduled June 22-23 and June 25-26, from 8 a.m. to noon each day, Pacific Daylight Time. The deadline to register is June 1.
The course, sensory-driven to help mead makers learn more about their craft, is designed for mead makers who have made six more fermentations and "have a lot of questions about how to improve," the officials related. "This mead maker knows that it isn't always beginner's luck and needs to do much more work to learn how to be successful each and every time."
The full-bottled meads to be featured:
- Blackberry - Schramm's Mead
- Statement - Schramm's Mead
- John Lemon - St. Ambrose Cellars
- Razzputin - St. Ambrose Cellars
- Tom Cat: Gin Barrel - Sap House Meadery
- Echoes: Rye Barrel - Sap House Meadery
- Coveters B2 - Lost Cause Meadery
- Snow Melt - Superstition
- Star Thistle Ambrosia - St. Ambrose Cellars
- Melia - Rabbit's Foot Meadery
Other items on the agenda:
- Spiked mead samples for defect tasting
- Mead Tasting Wheel
- Honeys for Honey to Mead Tasting
- UC Davis Aroma and Flavor Honey Wheel
All you mead is love--plus a little money (well-spent) and the time (well spent) to learn more about how to craft the world's oldest alcoholic beverage.
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or events manager Liz Luu at email@example.com
Manuka honey is produced in New Zealand and Australia, but New Zealand claims the manuka honey trademark. Australia says that's not fair. They want to use it, too.
Manuka is to honey what Château Cheval Blanc 1947 is to wine connoisseurs. Buy a bottle of that wine and you'll fork over $304,375. Buy an eight-ounce jar of manuka honey and you'll lighten your wallet by $1790.
Bees make manuka honey from Leptospermum scoparium, also known as "The New Zealand tea tree" or more accurately, "bush." The honey prized for its health benefits, including its antibacterial and antifungal properties and anti-inflammation qualities.
According to webmd.com, "The major antibacterial component in manuka honey is methylglyoxal (MG). MG is a compound found in most types of honey, but usually only in small quantities. In manuka honey, MG comes from the conversion of another compound, dihydroxyacetone, that is found in high concentration in the nectar of manuka flowers."
"The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect. Honey producers have a scale for rating the potency of manuka honey. The rating is called UMF, which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. The UMF rating reflects the concentration of MG. To be considered potent enough to be therapeutic, manuka honey needs a minimum rating of 10 UMF. Honey at or above that level is marketed as UMF Manuka Honey or Active Manuka Honey.
reports that New Zealand's honey producers have long argued that it's the only country that can produce true manuka honey, because it's the only place where the manuka bush (Leptospermum scoparium) is found. Australian manuka, they argue, comes from other different-but-related species. (The New Zealanders have previously suggested that the Australian version should be called tea tree honey.)recently wrote in Wine and Food: "The New York Times
Manuka honey? Tea tree honey?
Well, we just think of the bees and that beautiful plant.
For five years, we grew a Leptospermum scoparium keatleyi, the tallest and rangiest variety of the Leptospermum scopariums. It bears our family name, Keatley; New Zealand sea skipper/horticulturist Capt. Edward John "Ted" Keatley (1875-1962) discovered it and named the variety "keatleyi."
Factoids: According to the Maritime Museum in Wellington, New Zealand, Capt. Keatley once commanded 28 of the Northern Steam Ship Company's vessels. He also was considered an authority on the flora of the Auckland province. In June 1961, the Royal Horticulture Society awarded Capt. Keatley the "Award of Merit" for his discovery of the keatleyi, or "royal pink manuka."Sadly our "Keatley" plant didn't make it past five years. But generations of honey bees nectared on the blossoms while the plant thrived in our yard.
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.