The non-profit educational organization, geared for small-scale beekeepers in the western United States, is headed by president Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, of UC Davis.
WAS has already booked Kim Flottum of Medina, Ohio, editor of Bee Culture; Les Crowder of Austin, Texas, author of Top-Bar Beekeeping; Gene Brandi of Los Banos, president of the American Beekeeping Federation; Larry Connor of Kalamazoo, Mich., author and beekeeper; Rod Scarlett, executive director, Canadian Honey Council, and Slava Strogolov, chief executive officer of Strong Microbials Inc., Milwaukee.
- Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño will speak on “Impact of Varroa on Honey Bee Reproductive Castes): Where Will the Research Lead Us?” at at 8:30 a.m. The three reproductive castes are the queen and worker bee (female), and drone (male).
- Associate professor Brian Johnson will speak on “Geographical Distribution of Africanized Bees in California” at 9 a.m., He will show “the results of a genotyping study of bees caught from across California showing the current distribution of Africanized Honey Bees in our state."
- Distinguished emeritus professor Robbin Thorp, a native pollinator specialist, will discuss “Life Cycles of Commonly Encountered Native Bee Genera" at 10:30 a.m. He is the co-author of Bumble Bees of North America: an Identification Guide and California Bees and Blooms: A Guide for Gardeners and Naturalists.
- Professor Neal Williams, a pollination ecologist, will discuss “Known and Potential of Native Bees in Crop Pollination” at 11 a.m.
Casey also will lead a tour of the haven at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6. “The Haven is a unique outdoor museum designed to educate visitors about bees and the plants that support them," she says. "Tour participants will see some of our 85 bee and 200 plant species, learn about our outreach and research programs, and gain ideas for their own bee gardens." Other tours are to Mann Lake facility and Z Specialty Foods, both in Woodland.
On Friday, Sept. 8, Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen will moderate a panel on “Pesticide Toxicity Testing with Adult and Immature Honey Bees.” The panel will convene at 9:15 a.m. At 1:30 on Friday, assistant professor Rachel Vannette of UC Davis will discuss “Variation in Nectar Quality Influence Pollinator Foraging." She studies floral nectar chemistry and microbiology and examines how these characteristics of flowers mediate interactions between plants and pollinators
Other UC Davis highlights:
Honey Tasting: Amina Harris, director of the Honey and Pollination Center at the Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, UC Davis, will lead a moderated honey tasting at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The event is titled “Taste the Honey Flavors of the West: How Understanding the Nuances of your Honey Can Help You Market your Perfect Sweet.” Said Harris: "Basically I plan to discuss the diversity and life styles of non-Apis bees to show how different most are from honey bees."
Memories: The founders of WAS will discuss "how it all began" from 8:45 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 6. The organization, founded at UC Davis, was the brainchild of Norm Gary, then professor of apiculture (now emeritus), who served as the first WAS president. Assisting him in founding the organization were Eric Mussen, then an Extension apiculturist who was elected the first WAS vice president; and postdoctoral fellow Becky Westerdahl, now a nematologist in the department, who held the office of secretary-treasurer.
More information on the conference is available from the WAS website or contact Eric Mussen, serving his sixth term as president, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration is underway at http://www.westernapiculturalsociety.org/2017-conference-registration/
WAS, which serves the educational needs of beekeepers from 13 states, plus parts of Canada, was founded in 1977-78 for “the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America,” said Mussen, who retired as Extension apiculturist in 2014 after a 38-year career. As emeritus, he continues to maintain an office on the third floor of Briggs Hall, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
The organization was the brainchild of apiculture professor Norm Gary (UC Davis faculty, 1962 to 1994), who patterned it after the Eastern Apicultural Society (EAS). Gary participated in the EAS meetings as a graduate student at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., where he received his doctorate in apiculture in 1959.
“We grad students were encouraged to attend and speak at the meetings,” Gary related. “It was a wonderful opportunity for us to become acquainted with hobby beekeeping and to get public speaking experience as we reported research results at the meetings. Much of the success of EAS can be attributed to keeping expenses reasonable by using housing and services of university campuses during the summer, and taking advantage of the support provided by bee research faculty on those campuses.”
In 1977, Gary asked Mussen and Becky Westerdahl, then Gary's postgraduate research entomologist and now an Extension nematologist at UC Davis, to help him launch the new organization. Gary obtained the bylaws and other documents from EAS to use as a model. EAS also loaned WAS $1000 to support the fledging organization. The first fundraising project: a banquet dinner held at the Putah Creek Lodge, UC Davis. “I provided some really good honey beer that I was making at the time,” Gary said, “and I contacted several wine companies for gratis cases of mead.”
Gary served as the founding president in 1978; Mussen, vice president, and Westerdahl, secretary-treasurer.
“These activities perfectly complemented his extension beekeeping program,” Gary said. “ I participated for a few more years and gradually needed more time and energy for research and other activities. Eric has been a recognized leader since the beginning days, and he is still providing great support for WAS.”
Mussen was elected president six times: 1984, 1995, 1997, 2002, 2009 and 2017. In addition, he has held the office of vice president six times. He went on to become an internationally known “honey bee guru,” with a “pulse on the bee industry” and as "the go-to person" for consumers, scientists, researchers, students, and the news media.
A native of Schenectady, N.Y., 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.
Mussen received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts (after turning down an offer to play football at Harvard) and then received his master's degree and doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota in 1969 and 1975, respectively. His doctoral research focused on the epidemiology of a viral disease of larval honey bees, sacbrood virus.
During his academic career, Mussen conducted a varied program focused mainly on his role as liaison between the academic world of apiculture and real world beekeeping and crop pollination. Mussen tackled many new challenges on honey bee health and pollination concerns, including mites, diseases, pesticides, malnutrition, stress, Africanized honey bees and the successful pollination of California's almond acreage.
He presented at national, state, and county beekeepers' meetings, as well as at agricultural organizations. He educated the beekeeping industry and general public with his bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, which he launched in 1976. He also wrote Bee Briefs, addressing such issues as diseases, pesticides and swarms. Both publications are on the departmental website at http://ucanr.org/sites/entomology/Faculty/Eric_C_Mussen/Apiculture_Newsletter/.
Mussen devoted his research and extension activities toward the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices, helping growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H'ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations, among others.
Considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, Mussen received the prestigious American Association of Professional Apiculturists Award for Apicultural Excellence, California Beekeeper of the Year, Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America (PBESA); a team award hailing “the bee team” from PBESA; and the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award.
Shortly before he retired, Mussen won the 2013 Alexander Hodson Graduate Alumni Award from his alma mater, the University of Minnesota, and the 2013-14 Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Extension from the UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR).
His nominators for the UC ANR award wrote that what sets Mussen apart from his Extension-specialist peers are these seven attributes:
- His amazing knowledge of bees
- His excellent communication skills in a diverse clientele, including researchers, Extension personnel, legislators,
commodity boards, grower organizations, pesticide regulators, students, news media, and beekeeping associations at the national, state and local levels,
- His eagerness to help everyone, no matter the age or stature or expertise, from an inquiring 4-H'er to a beginning beekeeper to a commercial beekeeper
- His ability to translate complicated research in lay terms; he's described as “absolutely the best”
- His willingness—his “just-say-yes” personality---to go above and beyond his job description by presenting multiple talks to every beekeeping association in California, whether it be a weekday, evening or weekend, and his willingness to speak at a wide variety of events, including pollinator workshops, animal biology classes, UC activities and fairs and festivals
- His reputation for being a well-respected, well-liked, honest, and unflappable person with a delightful sense of humor; and
- His valuable research, which includes papers on antiobiotics to control American foulbrood; fungicide toxicity in the almond orchards; the effect of light brown apple moth mating pheromone on honey bees; the effects of high fructose corn syrup and probiotics on bee colonies; and the invasion and behavior of Africanized bees. He is often consulted on colony collapse disorder and bee nutrition.
"Without question, Eric is the No. 1 Extension person dealing with honey bees in the nation, if not the world," said MacArthur Genus Awardee Professor Marla Spivak, Distinguished McKnight University Professor Apiculture/Social Insects at the University of Minnesota. "Research colleagues, beekeepers and the public are all very lucky to have him.”
Said Extension Specialist John Skinner of the University of Tennessee: “Eric is one of the most well-respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation. If I could select one person to represent the apicultural scientific community including research, regulation and extension, I would choose Eric.”
“Those of us in the bee industry who have been privileged to know and work with Eric appreciate his vast knowledge of honey bees and great communication skills," Gene Brandi, legislative chairman of the California State Beekeepers' Association. "Whether addressing scientists, beekeepers, growers, government officials, the media or anyone else, Eric can be relied upon to convey scientifically accurate information about honey bees and the beekeeping industry.”
Said native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp, emeritus professor of entomology at UC Davis: "He has played an invaluable role as a linchpin between honey bee researchers and the beekeeping industry and the commodity groups which depend on honey bees for pollination of their crops. His knowledge of honey bees and their biology, management and colony health is highly valued by his colleagues and clients. Eric is not only our state expert on all topics relating to honey bees, but is sought after by national level organizations to participate on committees dealing with the most important concerns of the beekeeping industry."
Extension specialist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who nominated Mussen for the Pedro Ilic award, praised him as "a worldwide authority on honey bees, but no problem is too small and no question too involved for him to answer. “He devotes his research and extension activities to the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices. Eric helps growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H'ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations. He ignites their interest in maintaining the health of bees, cultivates their friendship, and generously gives of his time and intellect.”
"With the decline of the honey bee population and the increase of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, his expertise is now more highly sought than ever,” Godfrey pointed out. “Any threat to honey bees is a threat to agriculture and a cause for his concern and a desire to assist. He is the only Extension Apiculturist in the UC system and in many regards, functions as the Extension entomologist for apiculture in the western U.S. and indeed, much of the country.”
Mussen co-founded and served as president of the American Association of Professional Apiculturists. He delivered keynote addresses to the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) and to the American Honey Producers' Association. He also served in leadership roles in CSBA, the California Bee Breeders' Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers' Association, National Honey Board, American Beekeeping Federation, and the Northern California Entomology Society, among others.
His other activities included: serving as the UC Davis representative to the California State Apiary Board; offering input to the Department of Pesticide Regulation, particularly with the pesticide registration group; working closely with Cooperation Extension, California Department of Food and Agriculture, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, the California Farm Bureau Federation, researchers in the UC system, researchers at the USDA/ARS honey bee laboratories at Beltsville, Md; Baton Rouge, La.; Tucson, Ariz., Weslaco, Texas, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among others.
He also reviewed annual research proposals to the California State Beekeepers' Association, the Almond Board of California, and the National Honey Board, as well as Small Business Innovation Research applications at the federal level.
Highly sought by the news media for his expertise on bees, Mussen has appeared on the Lehrer Hour, BBC, Good Morning America, and quoted in the New York Times, National Public Radio, Boston Globe, and Los Angeles Times, among others.
Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who is serving his sixth term as WAS president, said designs should “fill an 8.5-x-11 inch sheet of paper.” In addition to the bee motif, previous winning designs have included the organization's name, date and meeting location.
The designs should be sent to Nancy Steward, Sacramento Beekeeping Supplies, 2100 X St., Sacramento, CA 95818 before March 15. A panel of judges will determine the winner.
WAS is a non-profit, educational, beekeeping organization founded in 1978 for the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America. Membership is open to all interested persons. However, the organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming as well as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.
Mussen retired as the state's Extension apiculturist in 2014, after 38 years of service, but maintains an office in Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus.
Founders of WAS, all affiliated with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology: apiculturist/professor (now emeritus) Norman Gary, founding president of WAS; nematologist Becky Westerdahl, professor and Extension specialist, and Mussen. The year of the founding, all three were serving in the UC Davis Bee Biology Facility, now the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee and Research Facility.
The emeritus professor, who retired in 1987, was the last surviving member of the original entomology faculty.
Dr. Bacon chaired the department (now the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology) from 1967 to 1974. In 1964, Mrak appointed him to spearhead the UC Davis conversion of the two-semester system to four quarters.
Dr. Bacon was chair of the entomology department when it moved to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. An appreciative faculty presented him with a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
As a 41-year UC agricultural entomologist, Dr. Bacon specialized in the biology, ecology and population dynamics of insects associated with field crops. He pioneered the biological control course on the UC Davis campus and was instrumental in forming the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group. He is credited with co-authoring the term, “integrated pest control.”
Colleague Norm Gary, emeritus professor of entomology, said: "The last time I visited with Oscar was this past year when he attended a music performance by my band at the senior home where he lived the last years of his life. He was amazingly sharp and active at 96!"
“When I first arrived in Davis in 1962 Oscar gave me an orientation tour to see California agricultural activities and visit his field research projects just north of Woodland," Gary said. "Years later, after he became department chair, I was impressed and appreciative that he actually took time to visit my active field research activities with bees near Dixon. Oscar was very supportive in many ways to our Entomology faculty and highly regarded as a professional. He was always cheerful, thoughtful, considerate, and fun to be with, whether at morning coffee breaks, faculty meetings or at Christmas parties. He was an amazing man in all respects. He enriched all of our lives, professionally and socially.”
Emeritus professor Robert Washino, former chair of the department and former associate dean, UC Davis College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, recalled: “I was appointed to the faculty in Entomology during the Bohart to Bacon transition period as department chair and so my interaction with Oscar dealt mostly as a newly appointed junior faculty. However, during all the years since then as a colleague and friend, I've never, ever heard Oscar make an unkind remark about anyone in teaching/advising, research and administration.”
Said distinguished emeritus professor Robbin Thorp, who collaborated with Bacon on alfalfa leafcutter bees in the mid-1960s: "I always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Oscar as a meticulous scientist, outstanding teacher, leader and person. Oscar and his research associates, Dick James and Walt Riley, in collaboration with a grower, Dan Best in the Woodland area, designed and tested shelters to provide shade and ventilation for these relatively new pollinators for alfalfa seed production. The shelters were successful.”
“Oscar and his crew also tested pesticide effects on these bees and discovered a number of biological traits important to their management as commercial pollinators," Thorp said. "Oscar co-authored the first Cooperative Extension publication on the alfalfa leafcutting bees with several of us.”
Dr. Bacon, who humbly said of himself: “I'm the jack of all trades and master of none,” pursued many diverse interests. He was not only agriculturist, entomologist, researcher, professor, administrator, but a mechanic, furniture builder, boating enthusiast and ag history docent. He restored antique cars and boats, from rustic Model T's to a 1964 mahogany Chris-Craft cabin cruiser. As a wood carver and artist, he crafted furniture and carved birds.
Born Nov. 8, 1919, Oscar grew up in Sanger, Fresno County on a 60-acre family farm. He was an only child. Oscar harvested grapes, figs and peaches, drove tractors, raised 4-H pigs and renovated Model T's.
“Back then it seemed like nearly every farm had an old worn-out Model T along the fence lines,” he recalled in a feature story published in 2009 on the UC Davis Entomology website. “A boyhood friend from a neighboring ranch and I would give a farmer a couple of dollars for his car and then restore it.” The Tin Lizzies purred back to life.
Young Oscar attended school in a two-room schoolhouse; he recalled that grades one through four shared one room, and grades 5 to 8, the other.
Nature fascinated him. “I collected insects and watched birds and mammals and collected rocks and minerals.”
Oscar graduated from Sanger High School, Reedley Junior College and Fresno State College, majoring in zoology. He planned a career as a ranger naturalist with the National Parks Service, but the federal agency had no openings. So he accepted a position with the USDA Dried Fruit Insect Laboratory, Fresno, as a field aide.
It proved to be a two-year stint. In 1943, his boss steered him toward entomology and encouraged him “to get a degree” at UC Berkeley and return to the USDA.
Oscar went on to earn two degrees from UC Berkeley: his master's degree in entomology in 1944, following a year of study, and his doctorate in entomology in 1948.
His major professor at UC Berkeley was the legendary entomologist and aphid specialist Edward O. Essig (1884-1964), but Oscar worked more closely with another accomplished entomologist, Abraham Michelbacher (1899-1991). “Abe was like a second father to me,” he recalled.
Dr. Bacon landed his first full-time job in entomology in 1946 as an associate in the agriculture experiment station. Upon completing his Ph.D., he became a junior entomologist and instructor. As a Ph.D., his starting salary was less than $5000 a year.
His first major crop work: controlling aphids in spinach. Then it was on to other crops, including sweet corn, seed alfalfa, potatoes, small grains, tomatoes and melons.
“In 1953 I had the opportunity to come to Davis to develop my own programs,” he related. “I was extremely grateful for that opportunity.” At the time, the UC Berkeley Department of Entomology offered a two-year ;Farmers' Short Course' on the Davis campus for students interested in farming. The career-oriented program was phased out in 1959.
“Stanley Freeborn (first chancellor of UC Davis) and his wife welcomed us to campus,” he said. “He was very gracious--a very nice person.”
At the time, the original faculty members included Richard Bohart (1913-2007), insect systematics and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. (1907-2003), apiculturist. Today the Richard Bohart Museum of Entomology and Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility bear their names.
It was an era when secretaries typed manuscripts from handwritten notes; “office space” consisted of temporary buildings or renovated garages; and faculty (usually all male) wore a tie and jacket in the classroom. It was also a period of rapid growth and steady challenges.
In 1964 UC President Clark Kerr announced the plan to convert the entire UC academic system from two semesters to four quarters. UC Davis Chancellor Mrak asked Oscar Bacon to head the conversion efforts at Davis. “We had 1687 courses, and they all had to be reviewed and shortened from 15 weeks to 10 weeks,” recalled Bacon. Remarkably, the conversion took only a year.
Oscar Bacon was considered UC's “No. 1 Alfalfa Seed Insect Man.” In 1987, the California Alfalfa Seed Production Board recognized him for 13 years of service. In 1975, the Pacific Seed Association, based in Los Angeles, named him “Man of the Year.”
Integrated pest management specialist Frank Zalom, distinguished professor of entomology and former vice chair of the department and a past president of the Entomological Society of America, said he has long admired Bacon as an advocate for agricultural entomology research.
Said Zalom: “Many entomologists may not appreciate that the credit for first using the term ‘integrated control' is generally attributed to Abraham Ezra Michelbacher and Oscar Bacon, who in a 1952 paper in the Journal of Economic Entomology on control of codling moth mentioned the importance of ‘considering the entire, entomological picture in developing a treatment for any particular pest.' ”
Michelbacher and Bacon developed an effective integrated control program of the important pests of walnut, Zalom said. They “described methodologies for selection, timing and dosage of insecticide treatments for the codling moth to preserve the parasitoids of the walnut aphid that had achieved biological control following their introduction to California.”
“This was an important step in the development of the IPM paradigm and is still relevant,” Zalom said. "I also appreciate his role in the development of the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group at UC Davis that produced many students who are working as pest management practitioners across the state and across the country.”
Dr. Bacon is survived by his wife, Barbara, of Davis, and a daughter, Bonnie Krisiak, son-in-law Steve Krisiak and granddaughter Stephanie Krisiak, all of the Sacramento area. He and his first wife, the late Dorothy Flagg Bacon, raised three daughters, Beverly and Gayle (now both deceased), and Bonnie.
Some of the highlights of his life:
Field-Oriented Entomologist: He worked on field crops, including seed alfalfa, potatoes and small grains, establishing a state, national and sometimes global presence (potato crops in Bolivia). He targeted the lygus bug, the main pest of alfalfa seed production. “The lygus bug has no natural enemies, so we had to depend on insecticides. Then the lygus bug developed resistance to those insecticides.” He developed economic thresholds, determining at what point the cost of pest damage exceeds the cost of pest control.
In 1944 Bacon showed that Catalina cherry moth, which infests Catalina cherry and large galls of the blue oak, is an important pest of walnuts in the Sacramento Valley. Today it attacks certain varieties of walnuts throughout the state.
Research: Bacon researched whether an 18-acre field of alfalfa seed would show the same yields without insecticides. Would predators and parasites be able to control the pests? His three-year study showed the organic field yielded 200 to 300 pounds per acre instead of the normal yield of 600 to 800. “Agricultural chemicals will be necessary on certain crops for some time to come,” he concluded. “The world's food supply would certainly not exist without the control measures as we know them today.”
Teaching and Advising: As a devoted teacher, Dr. Bacon developed “The Natural History of Insects” into one of the most popular undergraduate classes on the UC Davis campus. He initiated the biological control course at UC Davis. He advised scores of undergraduate and graduate students. He helped launch the Plant Protection and Pest Management Graduate Group Program. When he retired, Bacon received a plaque from the graduate program applauding his dedication, perseverance and accomplishments. It's one of his cherished awards “because it's from the students.”
Administration: His role as a chancellor's assistant for UC Davis Chancellor Emil Mrak included the project of converting the UC Davis two-semester system to four quarters: completed in one year. As chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology from 1967 to 1974, he moved his department to the newly constructed Briggs Hall in 1972. Upon his retirement as chair, the faculty presented him a plaque thanking him for his “stewardship during a period when new teaching and research areas were initiated and when a great increase in the numbers of students enrolled in the department occurred has contributed significantly to the future of the department and to entomology.”
Heidrick Ag History Center: In 1996, Bacon began volunteering at the Hay's Antique Truck Museum, Woodland, which later merged with the Heidrick Ag History Center. He's known as “the friendly docent with first-hand knowledge of the farm equipment.” In his boyhood, he drove tractors similar to those on display. Today he volunteers once a week, more on special occasions.
U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary: Bacon took up boating and fishing in 1956. In 1975, he joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. In December 1987, Bacon was elected commodore of a district that encompassed northern California and parts of Wyoming, Nevada and Utah. He taught boating safety, inspected crafts and patrolled the Delta waters for more than 25 years. The U.S. Coast Guard, the parent organization, awarded him a citation in 1988, praising his accomplishments and dedicated support.
Artist: In 1990, Bacon enrolled in a woodworking class in Sacramento, and carved birds from basswood, sugar pine and tupelo blocks, and textured and painted them. “There's a bird in every block,” he recalled. “It's tedious and time consuming but very rewarding. I've never been interested in making them for sale.” His favorites include an American kesterel sparrow hawk that he carved in 1997. His other favorites include a white-breasted nut hatch, white crown sparrow, California quail, stellar jay and a redwing blackbird. He's also completed other works, including a replica of a team of Clydesdale horses pulling a Anheuser-Busch wagon. “No, the company has never seen it,” he said.
Restoration: Bacon advanced from restoring rustic Model T's in his childhood to renovating antique cars and boats. At one time he owned four boats and five cars. One of his prized possessions: a 30-foot Chris-Craft cabin cruiser, a 1964 model that he restored in 1973 and sold in 2008. He has also crafted furniture for his home and family. Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus, still marvels at how Bacon could tuck his 6-foot, 4-inch frame inside his Triumph TR3, a tiny British sports car he restored.
All Things Entomological: Bacon served as president of the Northern California Entomology Society and held membership in the Entomological Society of America and the Pacific Branch of ESA.
Cooperative Extension: In 1987, the UC Davis Cooperative Extension (CE) group honored him for his public service, naming him “the best problem solver.” The group included CE specialists Vern Burton (deceased) and Eric Mussen; research associate Wayne Johnson (deceased); and administrative assistant Shirley Humphrey.
(Editor's Note: At his request, the family will not be holding a memorial service."
Allen-Diaz, vice president for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), has agreed to participate in a stunt with thousands of buzzing honey bees clustered on either a UC ANR T-shirt or on a UC ANR banner in a project coordinated by the world-renowned bee wrangler Norm Gary, UC Davis emeritus professor of entomology.
Allen-Diaz holds several other titles: director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, director of Cooperative Extension, and professor and Russell Rustici Chair in Rangeland Management at UC Berkeley. But next spring, she will become “The Bee Lady” or “The Bee-liever,” surrounded by thousands of buzzing honey bees.
And, if the UC ANR administrator raises $5,000, she’s promised to eat insect larvae to promote awareness of alternative protein sources. (To donate, see http://promises.promiseforeducation.org/fundraise?fcid=269819)
Allen-Diaz has never intentionally been near a cluster of bees. “I have to say that most of the bee interactions that I’ve had in the past have been stepping on them barefoot on the lawn as a child in Edmonds, Wash.; jumping off a rock wall into a bee hive as a child – 11 stings on my neck and face; and trying to control meat-eating wasps (protecting her families’ hands, faces and legs) at our Oregon home,” she said.
Norm Gary said he will set up the project sometime in the spring, when the weather warms and the bees begin their annual population build-up.
Gary, who turns 80 in November, retired in 1994 from UC Davis after a 32-year academic career. He also retired this year as a bee wrangler and as a 66-year beekeeper, but “I’m coming out of retirement to help with this cause,” he said.
“Bees are not inclined to sting if they are well-fed, happy and content and are ‘under the influence’ of powerful synthetic queen bee odors — pheromones — which tend to pacify them,” Gary said.
While at UC Davis, he formulated a pheromone solution that is very effective in controlling bee behavior. Bees, attracted to pheromones, cluster on the drops of pheromones, whether it be a sign, a t-shirt or a plastic flower.
“Bees wrangled by this procedure have no inclination to sting,” he said. “Stinging behavior occurs naturally near the hive in defense of the entire colony not for the defense of the individual bee, because bees that sting die within hours. Using this approach I have had as many as a million bees clustered on six people simultaneously.”
“Most people fear bees,” Gary acknowledged. “They think bees ‘want’ to sting them. Wrong! They sting only when the nest or colony is attacked or disturbed or when they are trapped in a physical situation where they are crushed.”
Over the last four decades, Gary has trained bees to perform action scenes in movies, television shows and commercials. Among his credits are 18 films, including “Fried Green Tomatoes.” “My Girl,” “The X Files,” “Terror Out of the Sky,” “Invasion of the Bee Girls” and “Candyman” and the sequels. He appeared on more than 70 television shows, including the Johnny Carson and Jay Leno late night shows. He starred as the first guest on the TV show “That’s Incredible” and returned for four additional shows.
Gary holds a Guinness Book of World Records for most bees (109) in his mouth; he trained the bees to fly into his mouth to collect food from a small sponge saturated with his patented artificial nectar. He kept the bees inside his closed mouth for 10 seconds.
The retired bee scientist is the author of the popular book, “Honey Bee Hobbyist: The Care and Keeping of Bees,” now in its second printing. During his academic career, he published more 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers and four book chapters.
Gary, who received his doctorate in apiculture from Cornell University in 1959, is known internationally for his bee research. He was the first to document reproductive behavior of honey bees on film and the first to discover queen bee sex attractant pheromones. He invented a magnetic retrieval capture/recapture system for studying the foraging activities of bees, documenting the distribution and flight range in the field. His other studies revolved around honey bee pollination of agricultural crops, stinging and defensive behavior, and the effects of pesticides on foraging activities, among dozens of others.
A professional jazz and Dixieland musician, Gary is also known for playing the “B-Flat clarinet” while covered from head to toe with bees. He continues to play professionally in the Sacramento area—minus the bees.
“I’m looking forward to the big buzz next spring,” he said. “I promise it will be un-bee-lievable.”