It's a gathering of folks from both the almond and bee industries and beyond. See the agenda overview.
The late UC Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (1944-2022), based in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, was heavily involved in honey bee health issues in the almond industry even after he retired as emeritus in 2014. He shared his expertise with the almond industry, spoke at their conferences and always looked forward to almond pollination season, which usually begins around Feb. 14.
ABC is a self-described "leader in the honey bee health conversation, partnering with more than 20 organizations to support bee health including universities, government agencies, nonprofits and beekeeping groups." That includes the University of California, Davis.
It's not just bees--or the lack of bees--that ABC worries about. Pests such as leaffooted bugs and brown marmorated stink bugs draw their ire. UC Cooperative Extension specialist Jhalendra Rijal and two colleagues, writing in a 2021 edition of the Journal of Integrated Pest Management, wrote about the "Biology, Ecology and Management of Hemipteran Pests in Almond Orchards in the United States."
Scores of university scientists work with ABC on various pests, including UC Davis distinguished professor and researcher Frank Zalom of the Department of Entomology and Nematology. He's an Honorary Member of the Entomological Association of America, (the highest ESA honor), and a past president of the 7000-member organization.
Regarding honey bees, ABC engages with universities, government agencies, nonprofits, and others "to ensure that honey bees are happy, healthy, and safe while they visit almond orchards," according to its website. The organization posted this in 2018: "Since honey bee health was made a strategic research priority of Almond Board of California (ABC) in 1995, the California Almond community has committed $2.6 million through 113 research projects to address the five major factors impacting honey bee health--varroa mites, pest and disease management, genetic diversity, pesticide exposure, and access to forage and nutrition. The California Almond community has funded more honey bee health research than any other crop group, and in 2017, six new bee research studies were funded, with a commitment of nearly $300,000 to improving honey bee health."
ABC established Honey Bee Best Management Practices (BMPs) for California Almonds to "provide key recommendations to everyone involved in the pollination process, from the beekeeper to the almond farmer and everyone in between, to make the orchard a safe and welcoming place for honey bees, while balancing the need to protect the developing crop."
"The Bee BMPs have garnered praise from leading bee health experts such as University of California, Davis Apiculturist Emeritus Dr. Eric Mussen and been held up as an example for other crops to follow."
In 2014, Mussen received a plaque, with an engraved clock, from ABC for 38 years of service. In presenting him with the coveted award, Robert "Bob" Curtis, then associate director of Agricultural Affairs, ABC, said: "Eric, we honor your service as a Cooperative Extension Apicultural Specialist. Your leadership has been invaluable to both the almond and beekeeping communities as the authoritative and trusted source for guidance on research, technical, and practical problem solving and issues facing both industries. Even now in your retirement you have been instrumental in the development of Honey Bee Best Management Practices for Almonds and extending this information to all pollination stakeholders."
During his years as a Extension apiculturist, Mussen served as a university liaison, Scientific Advisory Board member, reviewer of research proposals and a designated speaker (representative).
A Celebration of Life is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28 in the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis campus. The registration has closed, but a live webinar will be produced by UC Davis distinguished professor Walter Leal of the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and a former chair of the Department of Entomology. Registration is underway here at https://bit.ly/3czl5Am. It also will be on YouTube.
Family and friends suggest memorial contributions be made to the California State 4-H Beekeeping Program, with a note, "Eric Mussen Memorial Fund." Mary Ciriceillo, director of development for the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources, said checks may be made out to the California 4-H Foundation and mailed to:
Honey bees and native bees love capeweed, Arctotheca calendula, also called South African capeweed, cape dandelion and cape marigold or cape gold.
It's an invasive plant originating from the Cape Province in South Africa (Here's what the California Invasive Council says about it:
"Capeweed (Arctotheca calendula) is an annual or perennial evergreen herb that, when young, forms a low-growing rosette of heavily pinnately lobed leaves, with undersides covered by woolly down. With age, it forms an extensive, dense, mat-like groundcover by proliferation of rooting stems (stolons) from rosettes. Leaves are pinnately lobed; fine, dense hairs cause stems and leaves to appear silvery. Flowers are approximately two inches in diameter, lemon yellow, and daisy-like with yellow centers. The plant is conspicuous in late spring and early summer due to its increase in size and the profusion of large yellow daisies. Plants are seldom solitary, and they spread vigorously by creeping stems (Lasca Leaves 1968)."
Capeweed may have arrived in California in a shipment of grass seed from Australia, where it is a common weed, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The invasive species compendium (CABI) listed it as a noxious weed in 2010 in California.
However, it's cultivated as an ornamental ground cover and has both "fertile" and "sterile" forms.
We've seen lawnmowers run over the the weed in City of Benicia parks (yes, it grows back), we've seen it thriving in a gold carpet along coastal California, and we've seen bees foraging on it.
It's a pollinator paradise, of sorts, but it's also invasive.
Honey bees absolutely love African blue basil. If there ever were a "bee magnet," this plant is it.
We first learned of African blue basil, (Ocimum kilimandscharicum × basilicum 'Dark Opal'), through Gordon Frankie, UC Berkeley professor and the late Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis. They co-authored the book, California Bees and Blooms: a Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists with Rollin Coville and Barbara Ertter, also affiliated with UC Berkeley.
We plant it every year in our pollinator garden. Wikipedia calls African blue basil "a cross between camphor basil and dark opal basil. "African blue basil plants are sterile, unable to produce seeds of their own, and can only be propagated by cuttings.
"All parts of the flower, leaves and stems are edible; although some might find the camphor scent too strong for use in the kitchen, the herb reportedly yields a tasty pesto with a 'rich, mellow flavor' and can be used as a seasoning in soups and salads, particularly those featuring tomato, green beans, chicken, etc.," Wikipedia tells us. "The leaves of African blue basil start out purple when young, only growing green as the given leaf grows to its full size, and even then retaining purple veins. Based on other purple basils, the color is from anthocyanins, especially cyanidin-3-(di-p-coumarylglucoside)-5-glucoside, but also other cyanidin-based and peonidin-based compounds."
A final note that Wikipedia relates: It "blooms profusely like an annual, but being sterile can never go to seed. It is also taller than many basil cultivars. These blooms are very good at attracting bees and other pollinators."
Right. "These blooms are very good at attracting bees and other pollinators."
Wikipedia forgot to mention that blooms are "very good at attracting predators," like praying mantids. They go where the bees are, and the bees are in the African blue basil.
Can you find the mantis in the image below?
Dr. Mussen, known as "Eric," died Friday, June 3 of liver cancer at age 78.
Family, friends, colleagues and associates are RSVP'ing at https://
Eric joined the UC Davis entomology department on July 1, 1976. Although he retired in 2014, he continued his many activities until a few weeks prior to his death. For nearly four decades, he drew praise as “the honey bee guru,” “the pulse of the bee industry" and as "the go-to person" when consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media sought answers about honey bees.
Born May 12, 1944 in Schenectady, N.Y., Eric received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after declining an offer to play football at Harvard) and then obtained his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and 1975, respectively. Mussen credits his grandfather with sparking his interest in insects. His grandfather, a self-taught naturalist, would take his young grandson to the woods to point out flora and fauna.
Bees became his life, and Eric thoroughly enjoyed his career. For nearly four decades, he wrote and published the bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and short, topical articles called Bee Briefs, providing beekeepers with practical information on all aspects of beekeeping. His research focused on managing honey bees and wild bees for maximum field production, while minimizing pesticide damage to pollinator populations.
Gene Brandi, the 2018 president of the American Beekeeping Federation, remembers presenting him with the prestigious Founders' Award from the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees at the 75th annual American Beekeeping Federation conference in Reno in 2018. "Eric received a well-deserved rousing standing ovation!” said Brandi, extolling him as "an outstanding liaison between the academic world of apiculture and real-world beekeeping and crop pollination."
"Eric was a legend in the beekeeping world who was always willing to go the extra mile to help beekeepers and bee industry organizations deal with issues pertaining to honey bee health, regulations, and various threats to the industry," Brandi said. "He also helped agricultural organizations, government officials, and the general public better understand the value of honey bees to the world. Eric was a great advocate for the honey bee and beekeepers. He was truly a national treasure.
"Eric served on the California State Beekeepers Association Board of Directors for 39 years as apiculturist, but he also was the parliamentarian for many years, and due to his long tenure, was quite the historian as well," Brandi added. "He co-founded the Western Apicultural Society and served as president for six terms. He founded the American Association of Professional Apiculturists and was either president of secretary/treasurer for the first ten years."
"In addition to his work with the aforementioned organizations, Eric was the UC Honey Bee Liaison to California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, EPA, California Farm Bureau Federation, Almond Board of California, National Honey Board, California Bee Breeders' Association, and others. Eric was always willing to help the beekeeping industry by testifying at hearings or writing letters to support the bee industry on various issues. He received many awards from a number of organizations, but the ones with which I am most familiar are the California State Beekeepers Association Distinguished Service Award as well as the Beekeeper of the Year Award. The Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees honored Eric in 2018 with the coveted Founders; Award.
Brandi related that "Eric also conducted a number of research projects over the years including research on sacbrood virus, effects of medfly sprays on honey bees, effects of antibiotics of honey bee brood, potential of Neem as a varroa control, effects of selected fungicides on honey bee brood, effects of antibiotics, and effects of high-fructose corn syrup on packaged bee development. Eric's "From the UC Apiaries" newsletter was a renowned publication which contained valuable information about current events in the beekeeping world which beekeepers needed to know. There is so much more that can be said about Eric and his many contributions to the beekeeping world."
When Mussen was nominated (and received) the 2013-14 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), MacArthur Genus Awardee Professor Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight University Professor Apiculture/Social Insects at the University of Minnesota, wrote: "Without question, Eric is the No. 1 Extension person dealing with honey bees in the nation, if not the world. Research colleagues, beekeepers and the public are all very lucky to have him.”
Page studies with major professor and pollination ecologist Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Her work suggests that honey bees reduce pollen and nectar availability in flowers, leading to competitive displacement of native bees.
"Competitive displacement of native bees may in turn decrease plant pollination because native bees are often more effective than native bees as pollinators," Page says. "My research suggests that such changes are already occurring for Camassia quamash (small camas) following honey bee introductions in the Sierra Nevada."
Page is scheduled to receive her doctorate in entomology in June 2022 and then begin a postdoctoral fellowship with assistant professor Scott McArt at Cornell University, where she will investigate patterns of interspecific pathogen transmission and how more sustainable beekeeping practices might mitigate the negative effects of competition. McArt recently delivered a seminar hosted by the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on "Pesticide Risk to Pollinators: What We Know and What We Need to Know Better."
In July 2019, Page collaborated with colleagues at Cornell and the University of Minnesota to present a workshop on the intersections of science and social justice, aiming to make science more open and accessible.
Page holds a master's degree in entomology (2019) from UC Davis and a bachelor's degree in biology (2016), cum laude, from Scripps College, Claremont, Calif.
Highly recognized for her work, Page received a three-year $115,000 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, funded by the Department of Defense. She was one of 69 recipients out of more than 3600 applicants. She earlier won a campuswide 2016-17 Graduate Scholars Fellowship of $25,200; a Vansell Scholarship in both 2018 and 2019; and Davis Society Botanical grants in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A 2018 Duffey-Dingle Research Fellowship also helped fund her research (optimizing pollinator plant mixes to simultaneously support wild and managed bees).
Active in the Entomological Society of America and the Ecological Society of America, Page scored a second-place award for her project, "Optimizing Wildflower Plant Mixes to Support Wild and Managed Bees" in a 2021 student competition hosted by the Entomological Society of America. She also presented “Impacts of Honey Bee Introductions on the Pollination of a Sierra Wildflower" at the August 2020 meeting of the Ecological Society of America, and "Can Visitation and Pollen Transport Patterns Predict Plant Pollination?" at the April 2019 meeting of the Pacific Branch, Entomological Society of America.
A strong supporter of community outreach and STEM, Page has been active in leadership activities in the summer program, Girls Outdoor Adventure and Leadership (GOALS) since August 2017. The free program targets underrepresented teens. Page has served as a program co-organizer, mentor and lecturer. She helped organize the 2021 summer program, led a lecture on introductory data analysis, and assisted students with their community science project (identifying pollinators in urban gardens).
Page was also active in Center for Land-Based Learning, serving as a mentor in the Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship. She mentored high school students, engaging them in hands-on conservation science at Say Hay Farm in Yolo County, and teaching them about how wildflower plantings benefit bees.
Page and postdoctoral researcher Charlie Casey Nicholson of Williams lab co-authored the November 2021 cover story, A Meta-Analysis of Single Visit Pollination Effectiveness Comparing Honeybees and other Floral Visitors, in the American Journal of Botany