Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
Soon beekeepers from around the country will be trucking their bees to California for the annual almond pollination.
California has some 700,000 acres of almonds, with each acre requiring two hives for pollination.
But an article in the Dec. 27th edition of the New York Post raises a serious question: How healthy are the honey bees?
Since colony collapse disorder (CCD) became the buzz word in the fall of 2006, just how healthy are the bees now?
Well, CCD is still with us, and the commercial beekeeper that sounded the alarm--Dave Hackenberg of Pennsylvania--says this winter could be the worst yet.
Hackenberg told The Post that "We had around 3000 hives at the end of the summer, but they started shrinking early, so when we came to truck them to Florida, there was only 2000 of them left."
He said that he wouldn't be surprised if one-fifth of his bees died before spring. "We're hoping we can stop at 50 percent losses," Hackenberg told reporter Alison Benjamin.
CCD, the mysterious malady characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive--leaving behind the queen and brood--continues to wreak havoc.
That's why honey bee research is so important.
CCD is probably caused by multiple factors, according to Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the Department of Entomology at the University of California, Davis and closely affiliated with the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. The targeted list of suspects involved includes diseases, parasites, pesticides, pests, viruses, stress, malnutrition, and weather changes.
Beeline to Blossom
If you're having cranberries, squash, pumpkins, carrots, cucumbers (and pickles) onions, grapefruit, oranges, apples, pears, cherries, blueberries, sunflowers and almonds, you can thank the honey bee.
“A substantial portion of the meal is pollinated by the honey bee,” said Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and a noted authority on honey bees.
Cole crops, such as cabbage, Brussel sprouts, kale, spinach, chard, and broccoli, are pollinated by bees.
Almonds often garnish parts of the meal, and those, too, are pollinated by bees--along with macadamia nuts, said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harrry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.
Even milk and ice cream are linked closely to the honey bee. Cows feed on alfalfa, which is pollinated by honey bees (and other bees). Ice cream ingredients usually include fruits and nuts, other bee favorites.
And the turkey? If it eats sunflower seeds--and it does--sunflowers are pollinated by bees.
Vegetarians can also be thankful. Bees visit soybeans (made into tofu for tofu turkey and other meatless dishes). “And bees can make a honey crop foraging on lima beans,” Mussen said.
And don’t forget the honey: honey-glazed carrots, honey rolls and honey-baked ham…
No wonder "honey" is a term of endearment...
Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen (right), a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, touches on these subjects in the latest edition of from the UC Apiaries, a bimonthly newsletter he's been writing since 1976.
Mussen, who will be the keynote speaker at the 120th annual California State Beekeepers' Association, set Nov. 17-19 in San Diego, keeps beekeepers informed.
His topic at the state beekeepers' meeting? “Glimpses of California’s Beekeeping Future.” He'll speak at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 at the convention headquarters, the Hilton Resort and Spa.
Mussen, who was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007. In 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
A noted authority on honey bees, Mussen has been interviewed by Good Morning, America, the Lehrer Hour, National Public Radio, California Heartland, New York Times and the Los Angeles Times, among other media.
Other UC Davis speakers at the conference will be breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and assistant professor and native pollinator specialist Neal Williams.
Cobey, who was named the association’s California Young Beekeeper of the Year in 1986, will speak Nov. 17 on “Update on Stock Improvement.” Williams will discuss his work as the UC Davis new native pollinator specialist on Nov. 18.
Meanwhile, hot off the presses, is the September-October edition of from the UC Apiaries. You can read the current edition and back editions, 1994-2009, here. There's no charge to download the newsletters.
The doctor (Mussen has a Ph.D. in entomology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul) is in.
Honey Bee and Catmint
If there's one plant in our yard that the honey bees don't like, it's the begonia.
Lavender, sage, catmint and sedum? Bring 'em on.
Sunflowers, citrus and pomegranate? Yes! Yes! Yes!
Rock purslane? Like rock candy.
Oh, how about a little begonia, Ms. Honey Bee?
Sorry, not interested.
So were we ever surprised last weekend to see a honey bee foraging on our pink begonia.
See, the begonia isn't exactly a bee friendly plant. It's not like the dearly beloved sage, lavender and catmint.
We told Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, a noted authority on honey bees and bee behavior--and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty--of the bee-begonia encounter. "Bet she didn't come back," he said.
"Actually, she foraged for about five minutes," I said.
I imagine, though, that when our confused little bee returned to the hive, her sisters met her at the hive entrance and said (in bee language): "You collected WHAT? You foraged in the BEGONIAS? When there was LAVENDER, SAGE AND CATMINT?"
Update: No bees have returned to the begonias.
Probably won't, either.
Honey Bee and Begonia
Foraging on Begonia
It was delightful hearing UC Davis nutritionist and fitness expert Liz Applegate extol the virtues of honey at the 31st annual Western Apicultural Society (WAS) conference, held recently in Healdsburg.
Like many of you, we've always loved honey. Watching Father tend the bees and extract the honey seemed miraculous. But the end product--the amber-colored honey--this was heaven itself.
Honey, however, is more than just a sweetener.
"I always have my athletes consume honey before and during strenuous exercise,” said Applegate, who directs sports nutrition at UC Davis and serves as nutritionist for the Oakland Raiders.
“I recommend honey--honey should be part of a good refueling strategy,” she said.
Nationally renowned, Applegate is highly sought as a keynote speaker at industry, athletic and scientific meetings. She holds a doctorate in nutrition science from UC Davis, where she teaches undergraduate nutrition classes that exceed a 2,000 enrollment annually. Her enthusiasm and expertise led to a 2009 UC Davis Distinguished Teaching Award.
But back to the honey.
Honey, a rich source of carbohydrates, “provides a quick source of energy,” Applegate said. It’s easy to carry (in packets), easy to consume (no chewing), easy to digest and is easily assimilated. Plus, it tastes good, is inexpensive and easily obtainable, she noted.
Unlike most other sweeteners, honey contains small amounts of a wide array of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants collected from the flowers that bees visit. The list includes niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Honey is also considered an effective antimicrobial agent, used to treat minor burns and scrapes and to soothe sore throats; and as a beauty agent.
And oh, the honey that's available.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and the 2008-09 president of WAS, says more than 300 different kinds of honey are found worldwide. The color, flavor and fragrance are closely linked to the bees’ floral visits.
Show me the honey.
The Honey People