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.
The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is hosting two short courses in early August: one on “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” and the other, “Working Your Colonies.”
Each will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. The deadline to register is Thursday, Aug. 1.
“These courses are foundational to beekeeping husbandry excellence,” said Wendy Mather, program manager. “They are great for folks who are thinking about getting bees next season, as well as those who currently have bees and want to ensure they're doing whatever they can to ensure the success of their hives.”
The classes are not required to become a California Master Beekeeper, but are highly recommended, as “they will help folks prepare to become a science-based beekeeping ambassador,” Mather said. Instructors are Elina Niño and CAMPB educational supervisor Bernardo Niño, a staff research assistant in the Niño lab.
Planning Ahead for Your First Hives
“Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” will take place Saturday, Aug. 3 and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what's necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving. They will learn about bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to install honey bee packages, how to monitor their colonies (that includes inspecting and monitoring for varroa mites) and other challenges with maintaining a healthy colony.
The course is limited to 25 participants. The $105 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch and refreshments. Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/572.
Working Your Colonies
“Working Your Colonies” will take place Sunday, Aug. 4 and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures will cover advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. Participants also will learn about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.
The course is limited to 25 participants per session. The $175 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch and refreshments. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/559.
Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. All participants are to wear closed-toed and closed-heel shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.
The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. For more information, contact Mather at email@example.com.
The third annual California Honey Festival, sponsored by the City of Woodland and the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, May 4 in downtown Woodland. It's free and family friendly.
Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center, says the event will include a cooking stage, a UC Davis educational stage, a kids' zone, a refreshment zone (beer and wine) and live entertainment.
Among the featured attractions will be a screened bee tent, where festival-goers can see beekeeper Bernardo Niño, staff research associate III in the Elina Niño lab in the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, open the hive and point out the queen, worker bees and drones. Bernardo is the educational supervisor of the California Master Beekeeper Program, directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Niño and operated by the Niño lab.
"Bernardo will be taking the girls through their paces three times during the day," Harris quipping, referring to the worker bees. This will be at 11 a.m., 1:15 and 3:30 p.m.
Kitty Bolte from the Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation, the first speaker on the UC Davis Educational Stage at 10:15, will welcome Woodand as a "Bee City." Plans also call for UC Davis to be named "Bee University" on Saturday, Harris said. "Rachel Davis, director of the Gateway Gardens, Arboretum has been spearheading this designation."
Pollination ecologist and professor Neal Williams of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, will speak on "The Huge Impact of Native Bees" at 12:30 p.m. on the UC Davis Educational Stage.
The UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven will feature a pollinator garden installation highlighting what and how to plant for pollinators, along with displays about common bees found in gardens, said Christine Casey, academic program management officer and manager of the half-acre garden, located on Bee Biology Road. She also will be speaking on bee gardening at 2:45 p.m. on the UC Davis Educational Stage.
The UC Davis area, located in the Woodland Opera House Plaza, in the middle of the festival activities, will be abuzz with new additions, Harris said. Newcomers to the festival include the World Food Center Plant Breeders, UC Davis entomology students. (See schedule.)
California Master Beekeepers will be teaching on the educational platforms at the festival. The Pollinator Posse of the Bay Area, headed by Tora Rocha and Terry Smith, will be on hand to explain the importance of pollinators and what everyone can do to help them.
Live entertainment will include Jayson Angove, Jessica Malone, Big Sticky Mess, Bocado Rio, Case Lipka, David Jacobin, Katgruvs, accordionist Jared Johnson, The City of Trees Brass Band and Double X Brass Band. Other live entertainment includes Space Walker and the Hand Stand Nation.
The festival, launched in 2017, aims to cultivate an interest in beekeeping, and to educate the public in support of bees and their keepers, according to Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center. Last year's festival drew 30,000 people and some 16 California honey companies.
The California Honey Festival's mission: to promote honey, honey bees and their products, and beekeeping. Through lectures and demonstrations, the crowd can learn about bees and how to keep them healthy. Issues facing the bees include pests, pesticides, diseases, malnutrition, and climate changes.
Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, director of the program, introduced the 40 new apprentice-level graduates, Class of 2017, at the fourth annual UC Davis Bee Symposium, held recently in the UC Davis Conference Center.
The 40 Master Beekeepers join the 56 members of the Class of 2016.
The program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. Members of the program serve as knowledgeable ambassadors who disseminate science-based information about the importance of honey bees, preserving bee health, and responsible beekeeping.
The members of the Class of 2017 are Jesse Adcock, Heather Angeloff, Alyssa Beth Archambault, David Barbosa, Ornella Bonamassa, Max Boyce, Christopher Brennan, Cathy Carlson, Michael Conroy, Elisabeth Eschelbeck, Gerhard Eschelbeck, Yee-Yie Fogarty, Nanette Herbuveaux, Sandy Honigsberg, Russell Hudyma, Christine Jeffries, Nancy J. Johnson, Carolyn Jordan, Jesus Llamas, Meike Maag, Joel MacPherson, Shannon Marie Ciortea, Roberto Martinez, Jennifer Matthews, Cherry Mattias, Kourtney McGrath, Robert Meyer, Jeffrey Michaels, Chitra Mojtabai, Andres Molina, Holly Nelson, Sara Ramsey, Donald H. P. Sexton II, Rob Slay, Melody Wallace, Nicholas Wigle, Christine Wilson, John Winzler, German Yegorov, and Karen von Gargen.
Bernardo Niño, the founding program coordinator of CAMBP, congratulated the Class of 2017 and presented each with a pin. New program manager is Master Beekeeper Wendy Mather of El Dorado Hills. Bernardo Niño who recently accepted a position as head of bee research and development at UBEES Inc., an organization headquartered in New York City. Bernardo will be based in Davis area. He will continue to work with CAMBP as the educational advisor.
CAMBP recently received a four-year UC ANR grant of $199,949. “We are expanding geographically to include the Fresno/Madera area (Shannon Mueller, Fresno County Extension director and agronomy farm advisor) and the San Diego area (James Bethke, farm advisor and Jennifer Pelham, area environmental horticulture advisor), said Elina Niño, the principal investigator of the grant, "The California Master Beekeeper Program: Development of a Continuous Train-the-Trainer Education Effort for California Beekeepers."
"Honey bees are arguably the most important managed pollinator and are used as the primary pollinator for over 30 crops in California many of which are considered specialty crops such as almonds," wrote Niño in her successful grant application. "Therefore, the food security of our state and our nation depends largely on robust and healthy honey bee populations. However, in recent years, U.S. beekeepers have been reporting annual colony losses of up to 45 percent. These losses are attributed to many pathogens and pests associated with bees, as well as pesticide exposure and lack of access to plentiful and diverse forage."
"Colony losses have also prompted those who have never kept bees before to try their hand at beekeeping in an effort to help honey bee conservation," she pointed out. "Currently, in California there are an estimated 11,000 backyard and small-scale beekeepers, with many of them belonging to one of 35 beekeeper associations within the state. While these associations often serve as hubs of information transfer, the information provided is not always accurate or supported by research findings. Considering the importance of California to the US agriculture and the fact that almost 80 percent of the U.S. colonies start their pollination and honey production routes in almonds, it is clear that there is an urgent need to develop a comprehensive, science-based, and state-wide apiculture curriculum."
Niño noted that "Development of these educational opportunities will help minimize potentially disastrous consequences, such as increased pest and pathogen transfer or spread of Africanized bees which are considered a public-health risk, due to lack of understanding of proper honey bee husbandry. To fulfill this need we established the first-ever California Master Beekeeper Program which provides California-centric, contemporary, research-based training in apiculture."
Overseeing the California Master Beekeeper Program is an advisory committee comprised of UC Cooperative Extension specialists and advisers, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology research staff, UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center staff, California beekeepers, and other apiculture specialists.
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/