If you're a beekeeper, a food retailer, in honey production or just want to know more about honey adulteration and food authenticity and what you can do about it, this one's for you.
An online Honey Adulteration Symposium, hosted by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center and featuring keynote speaker Michael T. Roberts of the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy at the UCLA School of Law, will take place Thursday, April 22 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
Registration for the 2.5-hour symposium ($30 per ticket) is underway here. The last day to register is April 18.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, said the symposium is an opportunity "to learn how honey adulteration affects our food system and an opportunity to take action. Honey is the world's third most adulterated food, right after milk and olive oil."
The symposium, she said, is geared toward "educating specialty food retailers who actively educate their consumers." Presenters will address issues of pollination, economic adulteration and threats to beekeeping. A panel of specialty food retailers will discuss how they source and select products and educate and inspire their customers.
According to his website: "Roberts entered the field of food law when, in 2000, he left his law practice and enrolled in the LL.M. program on agricultural law at the University of Arkansas School of Law, the only such program in the U.S. Since then, Roberts has engaged in a variety of professional capacities related to food law and policy. A few years after completing the LL.M. program, he was invited to join the University of Arkansas School of Law as a Research Professor of Law and as the Director of the National Agricultural Law Center. Roberts has broad experience in practicing food law, including being of counsel in Washington D.C. with Venable LLP, as a member of the firm's food and agricultural law practice group. He was also a visiting scholar and consultant to the FAO in Rome."
Roberts teaches two courses at UCLA Law: "Introduction to Food Law and Policy" (for second- and third-year law students) and "Emerging Scholarship in International Food Law" (a "modes" class for first-year law students). He has also been instrumental in the organization of a UCLA food studies certificate graduate program and was the co-instructor of the program's Introduction to Food Studies course.
The Resnick Center performs cutting-edge legal research and scholarship in food law and policy to improve health and quality of life for humans and the planet, according to its website.
Also, at the UC Davis symposium, five retailers will discuss the ways they educate their customers. The speakers are:
- Amelia Rappaport, Woodstock Farmers' Market, Woodstock, Vermont
- Danielle Vogel, Glen's Garden Market, Washington, DC
- Grace Singleton, Zingerman's Deli, Ann Harbor, Mich.
- Kendall Antonelli, Antonelli Cheese Shop, Austin, Texas
- Ralph Mogannam, Bi-Rite Family of Businesses, San Francisco
Among the other speakers will be Chris Hiatt, vice president, American Honey Producers Association, and a third-generation beekeeper at Hiatt Honey, Madera, Calif., who will share his insights.
The Honey and Pollination Center, affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, is located in the Robert Mondavi Institute on Old Davis Road, UC Davis campus.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
"You can learn a lot from these displays," a fairgoer at the 144th annual Dixon May Fair commented.
She was looking at an educational display with the catchy title, "None of Your Beeswax," the work of Ryan Anenson of the Tremont 4-H Club, Dixon, whose projects include beekeeping. The display is showcased in the Youth Building (Denverton Hall) at the Dixon May Fair, which opened Thursday, May 9 and continues through Sunday, May 12.
In his project, Anenson explained what bees produce. He zeroed in on bee venom, pollen, beeswax, royal jelly, honey, propolis, and also alternative medicine, history of honey, and bee hive air. Anenson concluded: "Honey might be the most well-known bee product in the world, but it certainly isn't the only by-product these magnificent creatures produce. Bees are considered 'the pillars of agriculture' for the work they do in pollination. If you have ever enjoyed most fruit, vegetables and other crops, you should generally thank the bees. Through pollination, bees contribute to maintaining biological balance in nature and help various animal and plant species, including humans, to thrive. Honeybee products are an entirely natural food source and have a long medicinal history that people have used since ancient times.Bees are arguable the most invaluable species to life on earth and are more vital than many people may realize."
As for beeswax, Anenson penned: "Worker bees at a young age will secrete beeswax from a series of glands on their abdomens. They use this beeswax to form the walls and caps of the honeycomb. However, some beekeepers use plastic as a foundation or substitute for honeycomb. Just like the honey that bees produce, many people harvest beeswax for various purposes, like candles, lip balms, creams, polish and conditioners, just to name a few."
The teenage 4-H'er was among those who attended a UC Davis Bee Symposium several years ago, and also participated in a recent California Honey Festival, co-sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center.
Madeline Giron, another Dixon 4-H'er, sketched a color pencil drawing of a bee, and Markus Taliaferro of the Suisun Valley 4-H Club, Dixon, submitted a photo of a honey bee sipping nectar. Another drawing, the work of Katelyn Nipper of Fairfield, featured "crayon art flowers": brightly colored spring flowers bordered by the crayons she used.
Lots of flowers! Just add pollinators!
Meanwhile, speaking of pollinators and plants, there's a clearance plant sale at UC Davis on Saturday, May 11 at the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's Teaching Nursery on Garrod Drive. It's open to the public from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Horticulturists are billing it as a "Pollinator Paradise." Everything is 15 percent off (Members receive an additional 10 percent off.) You can access the inventory here.
Lots of plants! Just add pollinators!
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.
That incongruous belief that “Honey is bee vomit” is resurfacing on a number of YouTube channels, opinion pieces and other Internet posts. It's usually said with great glee: “Honey is bee vomit! It's bee puke! It's bee barf!”
Is it #FakeNews?
We asked noted honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus at the University of California, Davis, whose career in bee education spans four decades, to settle the issue. Although he retired in 2014, he keeps active. Last year he completed a term--his sixth--as president of the Western Apicultural Society. He maintains an office in Briggs Hall.
And he continues to answer questions about bees and honey.
“As for the bees and vomit issue, the explanation requires quite a bit of knowledge,” Mussen says. It's about an "expandable pouch called 'the honey stomach' (which we humans do not have) and a valve called the "proventriculus" (which we humans do not have)."
“As most people know, honey begins as a dilute sugar solution secreted by ‘nectaries,' sugar syrup-secreting glands which are located in flowers or in extra-floral nectaries,” Mussen explains. “Pollen is not a natural constituent of nectar. The nectar is sucked up by honey bees and it passes into an expandable pouch called the ‘honey stomach.' This is the pre-digestive part of the part of the digestive tract that honey bees use to bring water and nectar to the hive. In honey bees and other insects, this ‘crop' precedes the portions of the digestive tract used for digesting food. There is a unique valve between the crop and the ventriculus (midgut), called the ‘proventriculus,' that has rake-like projections that constantly pull particulates, like pollen grains, from the crop contents and push them along for digestion.”
“Then the film is again exposed to the air. That process repeats itself until the moisture content of the syrup falls below 20 percent. Evaporation is influenced significantly by the relative humidity. Since honey will ferment at moisture contents above 20 percent, it is important to leave the honey with the bees until it can be immediately processed in locations with high humidity. That honey will seem to be thin. During the summer in California, the ambient relative humidity is quite low--15 percent or less. In that case, honey produced in the Central Valley can have a moisture content of 13 to 13.5 percent. That honey is quite thick.”
As an aside, “pollen grains are likely to be found in honey,” Mussen says. “Wind-blown pollens can fall into flowers that are open faced. Pollen grains are collected by hairs on the bees' bodies. They can get onto the mouthparts and become consumed with the nectar. Nectar-processing bees may have eaten some pollen in the hive before processing the honey. This is how the pollen grains get into honey. They do not necessarily get consumed with the fresh nectar. Physical contaminants of honey have to be quite small, like pollen grains, since the bees ingest all their food by drinking it through a straw-like proboscis with a very small opening at the tip. Most of the physical contaminants are removed by the proventriculus.”
And here's the point: “Since honey never is mixed with digesting food in the intestinal tract, it is inaccurate to refer to honey as ‘bee vomit.' A dictionary definition of vomit includes ‘disgorging the stomach contents through the mouth.' Since a human does not have a crop, the stomach is in direct contact with the esophagus and mouth. In a bee, the proventriculus and crop are in direct contact with the mouth. The digestion of solid foods in bees begins in the ventriculus and there is no way that a honey bee can bring that food back through the proventriculus, or ‘vomit.'
Which begs the question: Why can't we enjoy honey for what it is, not for what it isn't?
We can. Mark your calendar to attend these two events: the second annual California Honey Festival on May 5 in downtown Woodland (it's held in partnership with the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center) and the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium: Keeping Bees Healthy (hosted by the Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) on March 3 in the UC Davis Conference Center. The Bee Symposium will feature keynote speaker Thomas Seeley, the Horace White Professor in Biology at Cornell University, New York.
Interested in beekeeping? UC Davis Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño and her lab will teach a number of classes this spring, beginning March 24, at the Harry H.Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis campus.
The schedule and links to the capsule information:
- 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