Yesterday on Bug Squad we featured holiday gifts available at the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis--from calendars, t-shirts and sweatshirts to books, jewelry, posters, and insect-collecting equipment. Monarchs, honey bees, lady beetles, dragonflies--and more--grace the shirts. (Note: the museum, located in Room 1124 of the Academic Surge Building on Crocker Lane, is closed to the public Dec. 21-Jan. 6.)
Ready for Part II of entomological gift-giving craze?
The UC Davis Entomology Graduate Student Association (EGSA) offers a variety of innovative and creative t-shirts, all designed by graduate students.
The EGSA, comprised of UC Davis graduate students who study insect systems, is an organization that "works 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," according to EGSA president Brendon Boudinot, an ant specialist/doctoral candidate in the Phil Ward lab.
As a year-around fundraising project, they sell t-shirts, which can be viewed and ordered online at https://mkt.com/UCDavisEntGrad/. They're especially popular during the holidays.
One of the favorite bee t-shirts depicts a honey bee emerging from its iconic hexagonal cells. It's the 2014 winner by then doctoral student Danny Klittich, now a California central coast agronomist.
Jill Oberski, a graduate student in the Phil Ward lab, designed an award-winning onesie, “My Sister Loves Me." It's an adult ant, “loosely based on Ochetellus, a mostly-Australian genus,” she says. Oberski serves as the t-shirt sales coordinator. She can be reached at email@example.com for more information on the t-shirts. (For holiday gifting, they should be ordered now--or at least by Dec. 20)
Over at the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, the focus is on honey, mead-making classes, the honey flavor wheel and insect-themed note cards. The center is located in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Sciences on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
Interested in learning how to make mead (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented honey)? The center is offering a Mead-Making Bootcamp from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Robert Mondavi Institute Brewery, Winery, and Food Pilot Facility and Mead Making 101 on Friday and Saturday, Jan. 25-26 in the Sensory Theater of the Robert Mondavi Institute. (Click on links above for more information).
The Honey and Pollination Center is also selling varietals of honey: orange blossom, coriander and wildflower (purchase here) and offering free recipes. Think "Honey Roasted Carrots," "Bourbon and Honey Chocolate Lollipops" and "Lemon and Ginger Infused Honey."
Honey Flavor Wheel
The Honey Favor Wheel, published by the Honey and Pollination Center, enables folks to define and describe their honey tasting experience. "This wheel will prove invaluable to those who love honey and want to celebrate its nuances," Harris says. "The front of the colorful wheel has all of the descriptors – the back explains how to taste honey and shares four honey profiles so the consumer can get an idea of how to use this innovative product!" Purchase here.
The Honey and Pollination Center is selling insect-themed cards (photographs by yours truly, Kathy Keatley Garvey). Purchase here. A set includes the following eight cards:
- California Buckeye Butterfly 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 Tower of Jewels
- Hover Fly (Syrphid) on Gaillardia
- Brilliant Male Green Sweat Bee on a Seaside Daisy
- Female Sweat Bee on Purple Coneflower
For inquiries, contact Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something sweet. Something neat.
Next July: a major occurrence in the world of pollinators:
UC Davis will host the seventh annual International Pollinator Conference, a four-day conference focusing on pollinator biology health and policy. It is set from Wednesday, July 17 through Saturday, July 20, in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The conference, themed “Multidimensional Solutions to Current and Future Threats to Pollinator Health,” will cover 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. Topics discussed will include recent research advances in the biology and health of pollinators, and their policy implications.
Keynote speakers are Christina Grozinger, distinguished professor of entomology and director of the Center for Pollinator Research, Pennsylvania State University, (the research center launched the annual pollinator conferences in 2012) and Lynn Dicks, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, England.
Grozinger researches health and social behavior in bees and is developing comprehensive approaches to improving pollinator health and reduce declines. Dicks, an internationally respected scientist, studies bee ecology and conservation. She received the 2017 John Spedan Lewis Medal for contributions to insect conservation.
Other speakers include:
- Claudio Gratton, professor, Department of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Quinn McFrederick, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside
- Scott McArt, assistant professor, Department of Entomology, Cornell University
- Maj Rundlöf, International Career Grant Fellow, Department of Biology, Lund University, Sweden
- Juliette Osborne, professor and chair, Applied Ecology, University of Exeter, England
- Maggie Douglas, assistant professor, Environmental Studies, Dickinson College
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, directed by Amina Harris, is playing a major role in the international conference. The center's events manager, Elizabeth Luu, is serving as the conference coordinator. For more information on the conference, access the UC Davis Honey and Pollination website at https://honey.ucdavis.edu/pollinatorconference2019 and sign up for the newsletter for up-to-date information.
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center can change that!
Want to learn more about the product that honey bees make?
The UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center is offering a Sensory Evaluation of Honey Certificate Course, Oct. 26-28 in the Mondavi Institute's Sensory Building, located on Old Davis Road.
"This introductory course uses sensory evaluation tools and methods to educate participants in the nuances of varietal honey," according to Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, which is affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. "Students will learn about methods of evaluation, stands and quality in this certificate program."
Who should take the course? Anyone interested in learning how to critically taste and assess honey. Attendees will receive a UC Davis Honey Flavor Wheel in addition to a jump drive with all presentations. (See agenda.)
- Taste more than 40 varietals from across the US, Europe and other locales.
- Learn the positive attributes and defects found in honey
- Learn about the science of tasting from UC Davis Sensory faculty
- Learn about labeling laws and their limitations
- Receive an update on the latest UC Davis Sensory research
- Listen to lectures from leading authorities in nutrition, medical science, and adulteration and even a live cooking demonstration on how to use honey in creative ways.
The cooking demonstration features Mani Niall, a former consultant and traveling chef-instructor for the National Honey Board, a sponsor of this year's Honey Sensory Evaluation Course. Niall will explain how to best enhance the flavor of food with different varietal honeys, from savory to sweet. "Mani understands the nuances of honey: when it is important to choose a specific varietal to enhance a recipe and when it is appropriate to use a great wildflower blend," Harris points out.
His recipes also will be served on Saturday and Sunday to the attendees during meals and breaks.
A spectacular pollinator garden that's a "must-see" is Kate Frey's pollinator garden at Sonoma Cornerstone.
Kate Frey, a world-class pollinator garden designer, pollinator advocate and author who addressed the UC Davis Bee Symposium in March on "Designing Bee Friendly Gardens," has created a masterpiece. And yes, the pollinator garden is open to the public--no admission fee.
We visited the garden last Saturday and saw a pipevine swallowtail nectaring on Nepeta tuberosa, yellow-faced bumble bees sipping nectar from Stachys bullata, hummingbirds scoring nectar from salvia, and honey bees foraging on everything from Scabiosa "Fama Blue" to a native milkweed, Asclepias speciosa.
This is a happy place.
As she told the crowd at the Bee Symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: Whether you plant them, nurture them, or walk through them, bee gardens make us happy.
Frey's sign at the Sonoma pollinator garden explains that "All the plants offer food resources of pollen and nectar for pollinators such as native bees, honey bees, hummingbirds and beneficial insects. Pollen is a protein, mineral and fat source and is primarily a larval food for bees, while nectar is composed of various sugars and is the main food for pollinators and the adult life stage of many beneficial insects. Pollinators need a continuous food source for many months of the year. This garden contains a range of plants that will bloom in succession from early spring to late fall."
Frey's sign also noted that "Pollinators all have preferred plants they feed from, and flowers cater to specific pollinators. Some flower shapes are designed to exclude unwanted pollinators. The long, constricted floral tubes of honeysuckles or many salvia exhibit their focus on hummingbirds as primary pollinators. Other flowers nectar, like coffee berry is easily accessible to all pollinators. This garden contains a wide range of plants to appear to a variety of pollinators. Over 80 percent of flowering plants require insect or animal pollination. What insects or birds do you see visiting each flower type?"
Well, let's see: bees, butterflies, and birds...Apis mellifera, Battus philenor, Bombus vosnesenskii, Papilio rutulus, Calypte anna...
"The same plants that support pollinators," Frey indicated on the sign, "also make us happy."
They do! Happiness is a pollinator garden...
Or at least you saw the crowd circling Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The bees buzzed and so did the festival-goers.
Niño presented several "live bee" demonstrations in a circular screened tent. She opened the bee hive, pulled out frames, and showed the crowd the three castes of bees: the queen, worker bees and drones.
Niño talked about beekeeping and what bees need, and then passed a couple of drones through the tent to the crowd. Some gasped, not realizing that drones are males and cannot sting. Other marveled at the docile drones, took cell phone photos and petted them. The drones didn't seem to mind!
All in all, it was a great day for bees at the California Honey Festival, which is annually sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and the City of Woodland.
"Bees face many threats today—it is the goal of the festival to help attendees understand the importance of bees to food diversity in the United States." The California Honey Festival's mission is to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the festival goers learned about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
How many attended the festival? About 30,000, said Harris. (That's not counting the bees!) Harris noted that the inaugural festival drew about 20,000. Organizers had expected about 3000. Next year: maybe 40,000 or more?
Be sure to check out the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) newly posted video on the festival, featuring Niño. It's excellent. Although she's based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, she's California's Extension apiculturist. We are fortunate to have her! See the UC ANR video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUPEdMBYXZY
Resources? The E. L. Niño lab website is at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu.
Their Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/.
Their California Master Beekeeper Program is at https://cambp.ucdavis.edu.