The daylong symposium, themed “Keeping Bees Healthy,” will begin at 8 a.m. in the UC Davis Conference Center. Open to the public, it is sponsored by the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Le Conte, known throughout Europe for his varroa mite research and the effects on honey bees, will speak on “Honey Bees That Survive Varroa Mite in the World: What We Can Learn from the French Bees.”
In addition to his groundbreaking work in Europe, Le Conte collaborated with bee scientist Gene Robinson at the University of Illinois to isolate the pheromone that helps regulate labor in the honey bee colony. Le Conte has also worked with Mark Winston, Marion Ellis and many others throughout the country. He is a member of the advisory board of the Bee Informed Partnership, which strives to help beekeepers keep healthy and stronger colonies.
VanEnglesdorp focuses his research on pollinator health and honey bee health. He describes his approach to understanding and improving honey bee health as “epidemiological and multi-faceted.” He studies individual bee diseases and engages in large scale monitoring of colony health.
VanEnglesdorp was one of several founders of the Bee Informed Partnership. “As I traveled across the country sampling bees to try to find out what was killing them, beekeepers everywhere said that what they needed was a way to find out what other beekeepers did and which of those things worked,” he said. “Along with a group of our country's most influential apiculturists, the Bee Informed Partnership took hold.”
Other speakers include assistant professors Rachel Vannette and Brian Johnson, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; assistant professor Quinn McFrederick, Department of Entomology, UC Riverside; and professor Claire Kremen, UC Berkeley and MacArthur Foundation Fellow.
For the Lightning Round talks, six-minute presentations are planned. Among those speaking will be Extension apiculturist Elina L. Niño.
“This is going to be a very exciting symposium,” said organizer Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute. “Not only are we bringing together two leading researchers for our keynote sessions, we will have presentations from several other ground breaking entomologists in the state: Claire Kremen, a MacArthur Foundation Fellow from UC Berkeley, Quinn McFrederick from the UC Riverside and Rachel Vannette and Brian Johnson from the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.”
In describing last year's inaugural Bee Health Symposium as “an overwhelming success,” Clare Hasler-Lewis, executive director of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, said: “With a focus on exploring best management practices that help sustain the bee population for the future, we believe the 2016 Symposium will have even greater impact!”
The day-long symposium will conclude with a reception in the Robert Mondavi Institute's Good Life Garden where appetizers, mead, cyser (mead made with apples), local honey beers and assorted other beverages will be served.
Other Program Highlights
Graduate Student Research Poster Competition: Graduate student entomologists from UC Davis and UC Berkeley will present their research during the lunchtime poster session.
Lightning Round: This year's lightning round will include information from California Extension apiculturist Elina Niño, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, on her development of California's first Master Beekeeping Certification Program. Five other researchers and beekeepers are scheduled to provide five-minute presentations.
Vendors and Educational Exhibits: Vendors and educational exhibits will line the corridors of the Conference Center with beekeeping equipment, honey tastings, bee T-shirts and other items. The UC Bookstore will offer bee and honey-related books.
UC Davis, recently ranked No. 1 nationally for its Department of Entomology and Nematology, continues to lead the way in agricultural innovation and sustainability, in part through its pollinator-related research and conferences, including the Bee Symposium. The symposium is made possible through a generous gift from the Springcreek Foundation.
Tickets are $80, which includes breakfast, lunch and the reception. Student tickets are $20 (with valid identification). To register for this event, access http://honey.ucdavis.edu/events/2016-bee-symposium. For more information, contact Amina Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org or (530) 754-9301. Prospective vendors should contact Liz Luu at Luu@caes.ucdavis.edu.
The UC Davis Conference Center is located on Alumni Lane, across from the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts.
DAVIS--Like to learn how to make mead?
Six renowned instructors—all who have won awards in national or international competitions--will conduct a two-day workshop, sponsored by the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, on "Introduction to Mead Making." The event is set Friday and Saturday, Nov. 14-15 at the Robert Mandavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, UC Davis campus.
Registration opened Aug. 1 and the workshop is expected to fill rapidly, said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, which is affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
Mead is an ancient alcoholic beverage made with the key ingredient, honey.
The instructors, in addition to Harris, will include:
- Petar Bakulic, president of the Mozer Cup International Mead Competition
- Chik Brenneman, winemaker and manager of LEED Platinum Teaching and Research Wintery, Department of Viticulture and Enology, Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science
- Michael Fairbrother, owner of the Moonlight Meadery, Londonderry, N.H.
- Mike Faul, owner, Rabbit's Foot Meadery, Sunnyvale
- Ken Schramm, author of “The Compleat Meadmaker” and owner of Schramm's Mead, Ferndale, Mich.
Early registration is $450. After Sept. 15, the fee is $525. The program fees include all coursework and materials, light breakfast, lunch, Friday evening reception, and honey and mead tastings. Participants can register online at
The center drew a capacity crowd at its first-ever Mead Makers Short Course in February 2014.
You probably will when you use the UC Davis Honey and Pollinator Center's newly published Honey Flavor Wheel.
“This gives a huge lexicon to the tastes and aromas we find when tasting honey,” said Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollinator Center, affiliated with the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The Honey Flavor Wheel production involved six months of research and development. “We brought together a group of 20 people--trained tasters, beekeepers and food enthusiasts--who worked together with a sensory scientist to come up with almost 100 descriptors,” Harris said. “This wheel will prove invaluable to those who love honey and want to celebrate its nuances.”
“I have always been astonished by the range of flavors in honey,” Harris said. “And its aromas, too. Developing the wheel has been an astonishing learning experience at all levels. I now truly pay attention as I taste many different kinds of foods. I notice flavors from beginning to end.
“I had one wonderful surprise during the tasting series. The sensory scientist we worked with, Sue Langstaff, had been to New Zealand and brought back several honeys. One was a wild flower called Viper's Bugloss. What an amazing aroma! Imagine sitting in a garden. The sun has just set. And the heady aromas of jasmine and orange blossom together crowd the air. This is the scent of Viper's Bugloss. An astonishing honey. Now I want more!”
Harris' favorite honey? Sweet clover. And that's not to be confused with clover. “Sweet clover is a tall, five-foot wildflower that grows in profusion in Montana, the Dakotas and elsewhere in the high plains of the United States,” Harris said. “It is light in color, spicy with a wonderful cinnamon hit!
"And that is how I feel, too!” Harris said.
The front of the colorful wheel shows the descriptors, including fruity, floral, herbaceous, woody, spicy, nutty, confectionary, caramel and earthy. No longer can you just say “sweet” when you taste honey or “sour, salty and bitter.” If it's fruity, can you determine if it's berry, citrus, dried fruit, tree fruit or tropical fruit? If it falls into the confectionary category, can you pinpoint marshmallow, vanilla, maple, butterscotch, toffee, molasses, cotton candy, crème brûlée, burnt sugar or brown sugar?
There's even an “animal” category” where you can opine that your sample of honey reminds you of a barnyard.
Retired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who has coordinated and conducted the annual honey tasting at the UC Davis Picnic Day for 38 years, remembers tasting buckwheat honey in Oregon that reminded him of “goat.”
“Maybe the honey bees drank goat pee,” he said, smiling. “Actually, the environmental conditions where the plants are growing can have quite an effect on the odors and flavors of some honeys, while others just seem to be the same everywhere. The ‘goat' honey that I tasted was buckwheat. In many cases, buckwheat honey seems more similar to blackstrap molasses than anything else. It is normally quite robust, but can be mild. In some cases it has been described as having a ‘barnyard' odor and flavor--goat? A search of websites suggests that the mild-tasting samples can become more pungent, with off-flavors developing if it's left sitting around for some time or if it's been heated.”
The back of the Honey Flavor Wheel relates how to taste honey and shares four honey profiles (Florida tupelo, California orange blossom, Northwest blackberry and Midwestern clover) “so the consumer can get an idea of how to use this innovative product,” Harris said.
The Honey Flavor Wheel, measuring 8.25 inches, sells for $10 each, with all proceeds supporting bee health research at UC Davis. The product is available at the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and soon will be available online, at the UC Davis Campus bookstore and at the downtown Davis Campus Bookstore.
Those are a few of the hands-on activities that will take place in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's insect booth in the Floriculture Building during the May 8-11 Dixon May Fair. The fairgrounds are located at 655 S. First St., Dixon.
Entomologists, researchers, beekeepers and honey experts will be among those staffing the booth and answering questions from fairgoers.
The interactive exhibit will include a bee observation hive from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility; specimens and live insects from the Bohart Museum of Entomology; insect posters from the recent UC Davis Picnic Day, and information about the Honey and Pollination Center.
Entomologist Jeff Smith of Rocklin, a 27-year volunteer at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, will be at the fair from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Visitors can hold a 22-year-old rose-haired tarantula, one of the most popular insects at the Bohart Museum open houses. Other live insects are scheduled to include Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
Smith worked in pest management for two years and then worked for Univar USA for the next 35, up to his retirement in 2013. Univar is the leading national supplier of the full range of pest control products to the professional pest management industries. Twenty-three of those years were in sales and the last 12 years with the E-business group, creating resources and training on the website PestWeb.com. Smith has written many training manuals and taught thousands of classes in pest management.
Now he fully pursues his passion for Lepidoptera (a large order of insects that includes moths and butterflies), with the Bohart Museum of Entomology, where he has managed and improved the Lepidoptera collection for the past 27 years as a volunteer. He studied and collected insects on 10 excursions to Latin American rainforest areas.
The Bohart Museum, directed by Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology at UC Davis, is the global home of nearly eight million insect specimens. Exhibits at the Dixon May Fair will focus on wing diversity; insects of California (10 orders (includes dragonflies and true bugs), butterflies and other insects of the world, and predators and parasites.
Among others scheduled to participate are:
Billy Synk, staff research associate and manager of the Laidlaw facility. He will provide the bee observation hive, where visitors can look through the glass and find the queen bee, worker bees and drones and observe colony activity. He will answer questions from fairgoers from 11 to 4 p.m. Friday, May 9.
Cameron Jasper, a graduate student in the lab of Brian Johnson, assistant professor of entomology. He studies the genetic basis of division of labor in the honey bee. He is scheduled to be at the booth from 4 to 6 p.m., Friday, May 9. Jasper studies the genetic basis of division of labor in honey bee.
Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, headquartered in the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science. She will be at the fair from 1 to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 10 and help youngsters make bee/flower puppets.
The Honey and Pollination Center showcases the importance of honey and pollination s through education and research. The center works with all aspects of the beekeeping industry, including agriculture, grocers and chefs, beekeepers and future beekeepers, urban homesteaders and students.
The UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology was ranked No. 1 in the country, in rankings released in 2007 by the Chronicle of Higher Education. The ratings have not been updated.
The event, set Sept. 4-7 in St. Helena, Winters and Davis, is themed “Flavor, Quality and American Menus.” Both Williams and Harris will speak Thursday morning on the CIA campus at the session on “The Role of Bees in American Agriculture: From Hive Health and Honey to Sustainable Pollination.”
In his talk, Williams will cover the role of bees and pollination services in sustainable food supply, new findings about how pollination can affect fruit quality, the synergies of pollination by wild bee/honey-bee threats to bees “and what we are doing to mitigate these.”
Williams' research on pollination spans the disciplines of conservation biology, behavioral ecology and evolution. One of his primary research foci is on sustainable pollination strategies for agriculture. This work is critical given ongoing pressures facing managed honey bees and reported declines in important native pollinators such as bumble bees.
Harris has been active in the varietal honey business for more than 30 years as co-owner of Z Specialty Foods, LLC. She will discuss the establishment of the newly formed Honey and Pollination Center and will present a slide show on the goals and programs of the Center and information about honey use and consumption in the United States. The center is affiliated with the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The four-day workshop, geared for chefs and future chefs, by invitation only, begins Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the CIA building. Opening remarks will be delivered by Michael McCarthy, chair of the UC Davis Food Science and Technology Department, and Clare Hasler-Lewis of the Robert Mondavi Institute.
Among the featured speakers are Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of food and Agriculture, and Craig McNamara, president of the California State Board of Food and Agriculture and owner of Sierra Orchards. Both will address the conference on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 5.
On Friday, the group will head to Winters and UC Davis. In Winters, they will tour the Wolfskill Experimental Orchards, the Farm on Putah Creek, and the Center for Land-Based Learning, all on Putah Creek Road.
Friday’s session at UC Davis includes a tour of the RMI brewing, milk, and food processing, and winery facilities; and a sensory experience in the RMI’a Silverado Sensory Theater
Saturday’s session takes place in St. Helena on the CIA campus.
Amy Myrdal Miller, MS, RDN, senior director of Programs and Culinary Nutrition, Strategic Initiatives, Culinary Institute of America at Greystone.