Posts Tagged: UC Davis Picnic Day
Where's the best spot for the new residents of my garden?
I acquired two ladybugs last Saturday during the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day. Background: as part of the campuswide celebration, the Department of Entomology annually hosts an all-out bugfest at the Bohart Museum of Entomology and at Briggs Hall. And keeping with the Briggs Hall tradition, the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program gifted picnickers with the treasured ladybugs.
Now ladybugs aren't really "bugs"; they're beetles. Neither are they all "ladies"; some have manly qualities. (Gender issues may confuse us, but not the lady and gentlemen beetles.)
A ladybug is a good beneficial insect. It can devour an estimated 5000 aphids in its lifetime (three to six weeks).
So, every year for the past several years, I've adopted two ladybugs, chauffered them home, and tucked them in our garden. "Please eat the aphids," I tell them.
And they do.
They're good at following instructions.
Last year they took up residence in a bed of red roses. This year, they're coming up in the world--a high rise. A tower of jewels (Echium wildpretii) is "home sweet home."
Life doesn't get any better than this if you're a ladybug (and any worse if you're an aphid).
Two ladybugs in a tower of jewels, Echium wildpretii. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Ladybugs exploring the menu. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hmm, looks like an aphid over there to me. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Amina Harris of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center will, too. She's offering honey tasting, along with arts and crafts for kids, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the south building of the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science (RMI).
And both are free.
Mussen will greet folks from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Briggs Hall courtyard as they sample manzanita, pomegranate, lima bean, orange blossom, almond blossom and northern desert shrub (from Nevada) honey. He's coordinated the honey tasting for more than three decades.
Over at the RMI, visitors can sample honey, take a photo with a bee lady, make a cute bee that doubles as a handheld fan, buy a jar of honey, and buy notecards (yours truly donated the photos for this worthy cause).
Not to be outdone, staff research associate/beekeeper Billy Synk of the Department of Entomology's Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility will provide a bee observation hive in Room 122 of Briggs Hall. Folks can single out the queen and distinguish the worker bees (females) from the drones (males).
It promises to be a sweet day.
(And, oh, by the way, if you want to taste more honey flavors, be sure to register for the Honey and Pollination Center's "Luncheon in the Garden" on June 2 at RMI.)
A frame of honey in the apiary of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton shows his daughter, Emily, a bee observation hive. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
You'll probably like lima bean honey.
Lima beans are a honey production crop, and this varietal is one of the six honeys to be sampled at the UC Davis Department of Entomology's free honey-tasting event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 20 at Briggs Hall. It's all part of the 99th annual UC Davis Picnic Day.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen has been staffing the activitity at the UC Davis Picnic Day for more than three decades.
Every year Mussen tries to offer something new and/or different for visitors to taste. He's gathered everything from cotton honey to starthistle honey. (Starthistle, by the way, is his favorite, and is also favored by many beekeepers.)
This year, in addition to lima bean honey, the varietals are manzanita, pomegranate, orange blossom, almond blossom and northern desert shrub (from Nevada). (See the National Honey Board website for information on varietals.)
Honey bees are trucked to California from all over the country to pollinate the state's 800,000 acres of almonds. But have you ever sampled almond blossom honey? Most people haven't. It's rather strong and leaves an aftertaste, Mussen says.
What many folks are also eager to try is the reddish-tinged honey from the northern desert shrub.
The honey tasting will take place in the courtyard of Briggs Hall, which is located just off Kleiber Hall drive. Each person will be given six toothpicks, one for each varietal. Due to popular demand, two tables will be set up to accommodate everyone.
Guess which one will be the last honey to be sampled? Almond blossom honey. That's because of the aftertaste.
Honey-tasting is a popular activity at Briggs Hall during the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee heading toward almond blossom. Almond blossom honey will be one of the honeys to be sampled at the UC Davis Picnic Day. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If you head over to the UC Davis Department of Entomology's displays at Briggs Hall and at the Bohart Museum of Entomology on Saturday, April 21 during the campuswide UC Davis Picnic Day, you'll find them.
Bug doctors. Lots of them. They'll be there from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey will be behind a sign that says "Dr. Death" in Room 122 of Briggs Hall. (Briggs is located off Kleiber Hall Drive.) There you can ask him all kinds of questions about forensic entomology and he'll let you peer through his microscope. Ask him about CSI!
Out in front of Briggs Hall will be a "Bug Doctor" booth where you can "bug" the experts about bugs. Entomology faculty and graduate students will rotate shifts.
The UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) will have a team of experts at Briggs, too, to answer all sorts of questions. "We will do our usual display of information and tools for managing pests in homes and gardens," said Mary Louise Flint, the UC IPM's associate director of urban and community IPM and an Extension entomologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "We'll give advice on managing pests with less toxic, environmentally sound IPM methods. We will have Quick Tips to hand out, people can try out our touch screen IPM kiosk to answer questions and we will also be distributing live lady beetles (aka ladybugs) for children."
Over at the Bohart Museum in Room 1124 of Academic Surge on California Drive, you'll meet the team of bug experts headed by director Lynn Kimsey, professor of entomology. You can examine the specimens (there are more than seven million housed in the museum) and they'll even let you hold the critters in their live "petting zoo" which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks.
Yes, there will be doctors in the house, but you know what? They will be far, far outnumbered by insects. (See the UC Davis Department of Entomology website for the full list of activities.)
Bug banner at Briggs beckons. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Forensic entomologist Robert Kimsey as "Dr. Death." (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Entomologist/principal editor Steve Dreistadt (red shirt) of UC IPM answers questions about insects. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Yes, you heard that right. Cactus honey.
The plant may present a prickly situation to us, but not to the bees.
In addition to cactus honey, honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will share five other varieties: California buckwheat, avocado, Eucalyptus, sage and orange.
Visitors can taste the honey from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Briggs Hall courtyard. Some 25,000 toothpicks will be provided. The honey? It's from Bennett’s Honey Farm in Ventura County.
Mussen has been staffing the honey-tasting table every year at the UC Davis Picnic Day since 1980. This year, due to popular demand, the department will add another table.
Mussen, with the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976, also will answer questions about honey and honey bees.
The event, free and open to the public, is part of the entomological activities that will take place at two locations: Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive.
The scores of activities at Briggs Hall will include Maggot Art, cockroach races and termite trails. At the Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million specimens, visitors can check out not only the pinned specimens but the live “petting zoo,” which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. In keeping with the museum theme, “Insects Are Forever”--and that insects can be a girl's best friend--the Bohart officials will post photos of women entomologists.
Indeed! You'll see professors, researchers and graduate students.
More information is on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
UC Davis honey ready to be extracted last fall. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)