- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
And that they did, under the tutelage and watchful eyes of Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, director of the California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMPB) and CAMPB educational supervisor Bernardo Niño, a staff research assistant in the E. L. Niño lab at the University of California, Davis.
The 23 participants in the short course, "Planning Ahead for Your First Hives," gathered at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road to spend a Saturday learning all about bees via lectures and hands-on activities.
They learned about honey bee biology, the components of a hive and where to place the hive. Then they donned bee veils and stepped outside to the apiary to learn hive inspection basics. They returned to the classroom for lunch and a Powerpoint presentation on "Keeping Bees Year-Around."
Highlights included opening a hive and engaging in queen wrangling, hands-on activities (holding a frame and identifying the queen, worker bees and drones), and varroa mite monitoring. The participants also examined several different types of the hives in the apiary, including the traditional Langstroth hive, Kenya top bar hive or horizontal top bar-hive, Warré hive and a flow hive. The short course ended with a session on "Save us from the hive intruders!" and a question-and-answer period.
CAMPB also hosted a short course the next day on "Working Your Colonies." Participants learned what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures covered advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. Participants also learned about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.
Both courses drew maximum enrollment. "The classes were excellent," commented Wendy Mather, program manager of CAMPB. "We received really great feedback and the participants were thrilled to get the in-hive experience. And we got to sample some melipona honey (from stingless bees) from the Yucatán, as one of our participants had recently returned from a trip there."
The participants "now have some science-based knowledge and skills about honey bees and beekeeping that they can confidently share," Mather said.
Honey bee scientist Elina Lastro Niño, the statewide Extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty since 2014, conducts bee classes throughout much of the year. She is known for her expertise on honey bee queen biology, chemical ecology, and genomics. She holds a doctorate in entomology from Pennsylvania State University (PSU), where she served as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Christina Grozinger, director of the PSU Center for Pollinator Research.
The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. Check the website schedule for classes or contact Mather at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- Author: Kathy Keatley Garvey
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the University of California, Davis, and her lab are planning three classes this fall:
- “Varroa Mite Management Strategies” on Friday, Sept. 22;
- “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” on Saturday, Oct. 7; and
- “Queen Rearing Basics” on Friday, Oct. 20.
All are one-day short courses to be taught by Elina Niño and staff research associate Bernardo Niño from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, located on 1 Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. The site is located west of the central campus.
Each course will be limited to 25 participants, who are asked to bring their own bee suit or veil, if they have one.
Varroa Mite Management Strategies, Friday, Sept. 22: Current beekeeping challenges call for all beekeepers to have a solid understanding of varroa mite biology and management approaches, they said. “We will dive deeper into understanding varroa biology and will devote the majority of the time to discussing pros and cons of various means to monitor mitigate and manage this crucial honey bee pest.”
The course modules will cover varroa biology, effect of varroa on honey bee colonies, non-chemical management, and chemical options. The practical modules will cover mite monitoring, treatment applications, data/record keeping and inspection of colonies for varroa.
The $175 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. Registration is underway at https:registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/342. The last day to register is Wednesday, Sept. 20.
Lecture modules will cover honey bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to start your colony, and maladies of the hive. Practical modules will cover how to build a hive, how to install a package, how to insect your hive and how to monitor for varroa mites. Scheduled to assist with the course are lab members Charley Nye, manager of the Laidlaw facility, and graduate student Tricia Bohls.
The $95 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch and refreshments. Registration is underway at https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/314. The last day to register is Friday, Oct. 6.
Queen-Rearing Basics, Friday, Oct. 20. Participants will have an opportunity to learn about the theory behind the queen rearing strategies, and topics from basic queen biology to basics of breeding honey bees. “This course is perfect for those who want to learn more about the most important individual in their colonies or have been thinking about rearing the own queens, but might not feel ready to do hands-on exercise," the Niños said.
Topics covered will include honey bee queen biology, ideal rearing conditions, various queen rearing techniques, mating new queens, installing new queens and basic breeding principles. The course is limited to those who have basic beekeeping experience. The $125 registration fee covers the cost of breakfast, lunch and refreshments. Registration is underway at https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/341. The last day to register is Wednesday, Oct. 18.
Elina Lastro Niño holds a doctorate in entomology from Pennsylvania State University and Bernardo Niño holds a master's degree in entomology from North Carolina State University.
Through her extension activities, Elina Niño works to support beekeepers and the beekeeping industry. Her lab offers a variety of beekeeping courses and educational opportunities for beekeepers, future beekeepers, other agricultural professionals and the public. Most recently, her lab has implemented the first ever California Master Beekeeper Program. Her research interests encompass basic and applied approaches to understanding and improving honey bee health and particularly honey bee queen health. Ongoing research projects include understanding the synergistic effects of pesticides on queen health and adult workers in order to improve beekeeping management practice, testing novel biopesticides for efficacy against varroa mites, a major pest of bees, and understanding the benefits of supplemental forage in almond orchards on honey bee health.
Bernardo Niño, whose master's degree involved the population and genetic colony structure of the Eastern subterranean termite, switched to honey bees eight years ago. He now keeps “more than 130 colonies happily buzzing to accommodate the needs of all the researchers in the lab,” and leads projects on varroa control and honey bee health. He has also developed a number of educational programs for diverse audiences and for the past seven years he has been involved with organizing and running queen rearing workshops and serving as the program supervisor of the California Master Beekeeper Program.
For more information, access the Niño lab at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/. She writes a newsletter, UC Davis Apiculture, linked on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology home page. The Niño lab Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/