It's World Bee Day!
How did that come about?
One word: Slovenia.
The Republic of Slovenia, rich in beekeeping history, asked the United Nations to proclaim an annual World Bee Day, and following a three-year international effort, the United Nations agreed to do so in December 2017.
So May 20 is the annual World Bee Day.
"Slovenia LOVES bees and beekeeping and it seems like California does, too!" says Wendy Mather, program manager of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP). "There are 72 Apprentice Assistant and 93 Apprentice level candidates vying for their CAMBP certification this year! The '22 season is buzzing."
Mather points out: "World Bee Day is a confirmation that we humans respect and appreciate our dependence on one of our favorite generalist pollinators, the honey bee, for a healthy, diverse diet. Bee health equals human health and we thank all our CAMBP volunteers for their service to humanity in helping to raise awareness of the importance of bee health and science-based beekeeping. Our members are honey bee ambassadors and are committed to environmental stewardship."
Cooperative Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is the founding director of CAMBP. The organization has disseminated science-based beekeeping information through a network of trained volunteers since 2016.
CAMBP's vision is "to train Apprentice, Journey and Master level beekeepers so they can effectively communicate the importance of honey bees and other pollinators within their communities, serve as mentors for other beekeepers, and become the informational conduit between the beekeeping communities throughout the state and UCCE staff," according to its website.
Beekeepers and prospective beekeepers can sign up for classes, which run from February through October. Upcoming classes (many online but some in person)
- Honey Bee Health, May 21
- All About Varroa, June 4
- Queen Rearing Basics, June 11
- Pesticides, Colony Collapse Disorder, Research and Hope, June 18
- Wax Working, Honey and Hive Products, July 9
- Advanced Anatomy and Physiology of the Honey Bee, Aug. 13
- Seasonal Honey Bee Colony Management in Southern California, Sept. 17
- Broodminder: Apiary Technology and Honey Bee Health, Oct. 15
- Exploring Beekeeping in Person at the South Coast Research and Extension Center, Irvine, Oct. 22
That's it for the 2022 classes. In addition, there's an "Introduction to Mead" class offered Nov. 5. Mead or honey wine, is the world's oldest alcoholic beverage.
Let's hear it for the bees!
Take, for example, the Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program.
At the countywide annual Project Skills Day, held last Saturday, Jan. 20 at the Vaca Pena Middle School, Vacaville, scores of 4-H'ers showed what they've learned in their projects. The projects ranged from photography to pigs, from fishing to gardening, and from poinsettias to poultry.
Two involved beekeeping.
Ian Weber of the Vaca Valley 4-H Club, Vacaville, a second-year beekeeper, discussed "The Many Different Parts of a Bee Hive," explaining his project to evaluators and fielding their questions. For his efforts, Weber won a showmanship award, one of 11 youths to win the top honor. He competed in the senior division, ages 14 to 19.
Another Vaca Valley 4-H'er and beekeeper, Miriam Laffitte, entered in the junior division, ages 9-10, chose to discuss wax moths, a pest of beehives. She creatively titled her project "Wacky Wax Moths."
They are among the youths taught by beekeeper Garry Haddon Jr., the project leader. Like all the 4-H leaders, he is a volunteer who donates his time and expertise.
The 4-H program, which follows the motto, “Making the Best Better,” is open to youths ages 5 to 19. The four H's stand for head, heart, health and hands. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in a variety of projects. To name a few: computers, leadership, woodworking, poultry, cavies, rabbits, foods and nutrition, dog care and training, and arts and crafts. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools, Williams points out. (Access the 4-H website at http://solano4h.ucanr.edu/Get_Involved/ for more information about the Solano County program, which currently encompasses 12 clubs.)
It's quite true that 4-H'ers (I'm speaking here as an alumnus and longtime adult volunteer) learn many life skills that they would not otherwise learn at home, or in public or private schools.
And that includes keeping bees!
That will be the topic of honey bee guru Lawrence "Larry" Connor of Kalamazoo, Mich., when he presents a special short course during the Western Apicultural Society (WAS) conference, to take place Sept. 5-8 in the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC), University of California, Davis.
Connor will present the alternative short course, "Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing," at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 6 for a $50 extra fee, announced WAS president Eric Mussun, Extension apiculturist emeritus.
Said Connor: "We will start with the concepts in Two and a Half Hives: starting with two colonies of bees and making a nucleus the first season. We will show you how to harvest the bees and brood for a nucleus colony. The same system will for anti-swarm management after your first season. We will spend time looking at nucleus management to cycle new, mite-tolerant queens into your beekeeping, including when and how to establish these hives and prepare them for the winter."
He adds: "We will look at the general nature of bee population management—when to grow a hive and what to do when they fail to thrive. We will end with a discussion about establishing and maintaining a sustainable apiary—keeping your bees alive and thriving year to year. If we have time, we will work on your reading list in beekeeping."
A native of Kalamazoo, Connor holds a doctorate in entomology from Michigan State University, and worked as an Extension entomologist in apiculture at The Ohio State University from 1972 to 1976 before accepting a position in Labelle, Fla., to run a new bee breeding program, Genetic Systems, Inc., the world's first mass production facility for the instrumental inseminated queen honey bees.
Connor left Florida in 1980 and began writing books with Wicwas Press LLC, a company he helped found and now owns. He has published more than a dozen titles dealing with bees, beekeeping, queen rearing and pollination. He regularly contributes to Bee Culture and the American Bee Journal magazines, addressing queen and drone biology and management and beekeeper interviews. He is also an accomplished photographer, artist and actor.
Connor will be one of some 16 speakers, ranging from California to Canada, to address the WAS conference. WAS originated at UC Davis.
More information on the conference is available from the WAS website or by contacting Eric Mussen at firstname.lastname@example.org. WAS, open to all interested persons, is a non-profit educational organization, geared for small-scale beekeepers in the western United States.
It's about other projects, too, from "A" to "Z."
And "B." Don't forget the honey bees.
Solano County's Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, has just launched a beekeeping project, led by adult leader Sarah Anenson. It's a first-year project that's small in numbers but big in enthusiasm.
Her son, Ryan Anenson, 15, serves as the teen leader. Other members are Isabel Martinez, 12, and Caitlin Miller, 17.
They're learning about bees and sharing the information. Ryan crafted an informational display board, "Queen Bee, Star of the Hive," for the Solano County 4-H Project Skills Day, held recently in Vallejo, and responded to questions from his evaluators. Solano County 4-H Program representative Valerie Williams described Project Skills Day as an opportunity for 4-H'ers to share what they've learned and to gain experience in presentation and interaction skills.
One of the evaluators praised Anenson's presentation with: "Excellent presentation. You're knowledgeable and passionate on your subject. You were pleasant to talk to. Your eye contact, speaking ability and overall conversation was engaging and informative. We look forward to seeing you and your board at Presentation Day and beyond."
Sarah Anenson decided to launch the 4-H beekeeping project after walking to a local vintage fair and noticing an observation beehive surrounded by children of all ages. "They were fascinated by the bees and were a captive audience for hours--even our teenagers were mesmerized," she said. "It was then that we realized that a 4-H honey bee project would be beneficial for our youth. To help give our project a kick-start, we received our beehive and hive tools from our good friend, Mr. Don Ritchey."
She added: "We are currently raising only one colony, though we hope to raise more in the near future. One of our hopes is that we will receive bee hive and honey bee donations from our community. Raising honey bees, although highly beneficial, is costly to new beekeepers."
The Tremont 4-H'ers acquired their first honey bee colony last April from Breanna Sieferman of California Queen Bees, Woodland. The bees are now in a Dixon almond grove for pollination, which is expected to start around Feb. 14. "We are glad that our honey bees will help with the pollination of the almonds, but we are not seeking compensation," Anenson said. "We are simply happy to learn what we can about the honey bees, and at some point reap the rewards in honey."
Meanwhile, Ryan Anenson is getting ready to share his beekeeping project at another countywide event, the Solano County 4-H Presentation, to be held Saturday, Feb. 25 at Tremont Elementary School, 355 Pheasant Run Drive, Dixon. The event begins at 10 a.m. and visitors are welcome.
The Solano County 4-H Youth Development Program, part of the UC Cooperative Extension Program of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), follows the motto, “Making the best better.” 4-H, which stands for head, heart, health and hands, is open to youths ages 5 to 19. In age-appropriate projects, they learn skills through hands-on learning in projects ranging from arts and crafts, computers and leadership to dog care, poultry, rabbits and woodworking. They develop skills they would otherwise not attain at home or in public or private schools, said Williams, who may be reached at email@example.com for further information on the program. Solano County has 11 4-H clubs: Dixon Ridge 4-H, Maine Prairie 4-H, Roving Clovers 4-H and Tremont, 4-H, all of Dixon; Elmira 4-H, Pleasants Valley 4-H and Vaca Valley 4-H, all of the Vacaville area; Westwind 4-H and Suisun Valley 4-H, both of Fairfield-Suisun; Rio Vista 4-H of Rio Vista; and Sherwood Forest 4-H, Vallejo.
Registration is now underway for the “Beekeeping Basics Workshop,” sponsored by the Highland Springs Resort and SuperOrganism, a non-profit, San Anselmo-based organization that books speakers and does bee projects.
The event, limited to 25 registrants, takes place from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Feb. 27 and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Feb. 28 at the Highland Springs Resort.
Conference speakers will include Extension apiculturist Elina Niño and Bernardo Niño of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Elina Niño discuss how bees communicate and beekeeping basics and offer hands-on instruction. Bernardo Niño will cover beekeeping basics—from how to examine a colony to how to split a hive.
Other speakers include
- Megan Mahoney of the national Bee Informed Partnership Tech Transfer Team, who will discuss top bar beekeeping and what forage to plant.
- Mark Brandenburg, an agronomist whose topic is soil development for forage grasses.
- Jerry Draper of SuperOrganism and a 30-year beekeeper who will share his experiences on “what an inexpensive electronic hive can reveal.”
- M.E.A. McNeil of SuperOrganism and a master beekeeper and journalist writing for The American Bee Journal and Bee Culture who will provide insight into what's happening for bees nationally--on both a grassroots and national level.
- Ricardo Placienta, Highland Springs Resort beekeeper who will discuss his philosophy of beekeeping and provide a hands-on look at the bees.
- Tina Kummerle, beekeeper and manager of the Highland Springs Resort who will introduce the attendees to the history of the resort, its plantings and information on the bees
The Highland Springs Resort, located just west of Palm Springs, is an historic site that once served as a stage coach stop. Its 2400 organically maintained acres include hiking trails and large lavender beds that provide an ideal home for bees.
"I think this is a rare opportunity for people to have face time with these expert beekeepers, the Niño and Megan Mahoney," said McNeil, who as the co-founder of SuperOrganism, lined up the speakers.
Of the venue, she said: "It's a beautiful place with enormous organic acreage, hoping to promote beekeeping."
For more information, access the beekeeping conference on the Highland Springs Resort website. It includes information on conference fees, accommodations and meals. The conference fees will go toward travel expenses of the speakers.