- 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
So when Yves Le Conte, director of the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Paris, toured the UC Davis campus prior to his keynote speech at the second annual Bee Symposium, "Bonjour" was not only a greeting, but a very good day.
He toured the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology.
Escorted by journalist/master beekeeper Mea McNeil of San Anselmo, he first enjoyed a luncheon catered by McNeil at the Laidlaw facility; toured the Bohart Museum, home of nearly eight million insect specimens; and then visited the honey bee garden, a half-acre bee garden located next to the Laidlaw facility on Bee Biology Road.
McNeil, who profiled him in a bee journal, described him as not only a rigorous scientist, but a warm, caring person. "It was his curiosity about mites that led him to make discoveries about bee pheromones that have substantially changed the understanding of bee behavior," she said. "A good deal of cross pollination took place as he met members of the UC Davis entomology community, and he relished a visit to the Bohart Museum."
Le Conte, known throughout Europe for his varroa mite research and the effects on honey bees, spoke on “Honey Bees That Survive Varroa Mite in the World: What We Can Learn from the French Bees.”
He related that the parasitic varroa mite, "a major pest for beekeepers," arrived in France in 1982, and that untreated colonies died after two or three years. Resistance of the honey bee to the mite is crucial for bees' survival, he said. He and fellow scientists are studying varroa-resistant bees. "We go to beekeepers and say 'Give me a piece of the wing of your queen--we want to study the DNA to select for (varroa) resistance," he said.
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.
The second annual Bee Symposium, held May 7 in the UC Davis Conference Center, and hosted by the Honey and Pollination Center and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. Amina Harris, director of the center, and Neal Williams, associate professor in the department and a co-faculty director of the center, emceed the event.