Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
Think what it would be like if you increased your weight by 1000 times in six days.
But that's exactly what worker bee larvae do in the honey bee colony. "They increase in weight 1000 times during the six days that they feed," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty.
"Worker bees," Mussen said, "will deposit food in their cells 10,000 times during those six days."
In peak season, the queen bee can lay up to 2000 eggs a day. No wonder she's called an "egg-laying machine."
From egg to larva to pupa to adult, that's the cycle of the honey bee.
Honey Bee Cells
Newly Emerged Bee
It's Valentine's Day and it's a honey of a day.
Valentine cards proclaim "Bee Mine" and "Bee My Valentine."
Invariably, there's a happy honey bee buzzing around a flower on a Valentine's Day card. With the onset of colony collapse disorder, the smile may be fading a bit, but the honey bee is still very much a part of Valentine's Day.
“Honey is nature’s best and sweetest sweet,” said bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, who does research at both UC Davis and Washington State University. “It tastes sweeter than sugar, so you use less when you’re cooking with it.”
“Also it comes in as many flavors as there are bee flowers,” she said. “It’s a high-energy simple, natural sweet. Athletes use it for a quick pickup.” Each tablespoon of honey provides 17 grams of carbohydrates or 64 calories.
Honey, she said, is one to 1.5 times sweeter than sugar—and that’s especially “sweet” on Valentine’s Day when folks partake of such dishes as honey-baked ham, honey-mustard chicken, whole wheat honey bread and assorted honey desserts. And then there’s mead, or honey wine.
The average worker bee produces about 1/12th teaspoon of honey in her lifetime; on one collection trip, she visits 50 to 100 flowers. The workers in a beehive may collectively travel 55,000 miles and visit more than two million flowers “just to gather enough nectar to make a pound of honey,” Cobey said.
Depending on the location, the average healthy hive can yield from 50 to 500 pounds of honey a year. “In Canada they get crops of 300 to 500 pounds—surplus harvest,” Cobey said. “It’s about 50 pounds here. This is their winter feed.”
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty says the bees’ floral source determines the color and flavor of honey.
The standard colors are water white, extra white, white, extra light amber, light amber, amber and dark amber, he said. The lighter colors tend to be mild and the darker colors, more robust.
"The milder flavors are good for drizzling over pancakes and oatmeal or for vegetable dishes," said Mussen, who writes the bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, available free on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website. "The darker, more robust colors, are excellent recipe ingredients, providing substantial honey flavor and resistance of the final product to 'drying out.'"
"For great lemonade," he said, "try mixing one cup of freshly squeezed lemon with one cup of liquid honey, and add water to fill a quart."
Now that sounds like a honey of lemonade on a honey of a day!
Hear the buzz in the California almond orchards?
It's almost pollination time.
The season usually begins around Feb. 1. This year California has some 750,000 acres of almonds, and each acre requires two bee colonies to pollinate.
That's 1.2 million colonies needed to pollinate the almonds, according to honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Since California doesn't have that many colonies--the number is around 500,000--the remainder must come from beekeepers outside the state.
Christine Souza of Ag Alert, the weekly newspaper for California agriculture, wrote in the Jan. 19th edition that pollinating the state's $3.2 billion crop is not without problems: thieves steal bee hives. Beekeeper Brian Long, Madera County, reported losing 400 colonies last month, a total loss of $120,000, Souza said.
To thwart thieves, beekeepers brand their names and phone numbers on their boxes. (We know a beekeeper who also brands his driver's license.)
It's a good idea to store hives behind enclosed and locked gates, the Ag Alert article noted, and "to give nearby property owners descriptions of your vehicles so that they can report any suspicious activity or vehicles."
Perhaps those Hollywood producers looking for story ideas could take what's happening in the bee yards and film another version of "The Sting."
Honey Bee on Almond
Honey bee expert Eric Mussen of UC Davis offers some good advice in a piece that he and commercial beekeeper Gene Brandi of Los Banos wrote in the current edition of CAPCA Advisor, published by the California Assoiciaton of Pest Control Advisors.
Mussen, an Extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, and Brandi, a long-time beekeeping legislative advocate, emphasized these two points:
1. The best way to protect honey bees from damage by pesticides is to keep them from being exposed.
2. To prevent negative effects of pesticides of all types, do not apply them to blooming plants upon which the bees are foraging.
Pesticides can have "negative effects on queens, drones, developing brood and bee behavior that eventually result in weakened or dead colonies," they wrote.
Honey bees can die from injesting pesticides on plants and in contaminated water. Or they can be accidentally sprayed, such as when they cluster on beehives on hot evenings and are "hit by applications from directly overhead or by pesticide drift."
Bees carry pesticide residue back to the hive. "All types of pesticides contain some products that are toxic to developing honey bee brood," they wrote.
"It would be nice to think that we know all about the effects of pesticides on adults and immature honey bees, but that just is not the case."
What we do know is that honey bees pollinate about a third of the agricultural crops produced in the United States and the bee population is decreasing.
Unless you're in Galveston, Texas.
The 2011 North American Bee Conference and Trade Show is taking place Jan. 4-8 in Galveston.
They arrived from all parts of the world to bee "Together for a Sweet Future"--their theme.
This event is a joint effort of the American Beekeeping Federation, American Honey Producers Association and the Canadian Council to produce what the organizers say is "the most innovative beekeeping conference in North America."
Among those participating:
- American Association of Professional Apiculturists (AAPA)
- American Bee Research Conference (ABRC)
- Apiary Inspectors of America (AIA)
- National Honey Packers and Dealers Association (NHPDA)
One of the speakers is bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, who has a dual appointment with the University of California, Davis and Washington State University. Her topic: "The UC Davis and WSU Stock Importation Project."
She just returned from teaching queen bee insemination classes in New Zealand, where, she confides "Santa Claus wears shorts."
Participants in her insemination class were "mostly from the beekeeping industry," she said. The Plant & Food Research Institute is concerned about the Varroa mite, the nasty little parasite that's sucks the blood of the brood and adults. So building a better hygienic bee is crucial.
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist in the UC Davis Department of Entomology, is also one of the key players at the conference.
One of the major concerns is still colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the brood, queen bee and stored food. Without the worker bees, the hives collapse.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released its 2010 Colony Collapse Disorder Report and the news is not good. General colony losses increased to 34 percent in 2010.
The report, produced by USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture, indicated that before CCD, "losses averaged 15-20 percent annually from a variety of factors such as varroa mites and other pests and pathogens."It's a tough time for beekeepers struggling with CCD in their colonies. And now, California almond growers are gearing up for the almond pollination, which starts around Feb. 1. California has more than 700,000 acres of almonds and each acre requires two hives for pollination.
So, shortly after leaving the Lone Star State, many of the beekeepers will be heading for the Golden State.
Let's hope the outcome is golden.
A. G. Kawamura and Susan Cobey