Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist and a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, is quoted in a Dec. 6 article in the Epoch Times about colony collapse disorder (CCD).
CCD is the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood, and food stores.
The gist of the Epoch Times article: The European Commission recently published its concerns about honey bee health.
In a communiqué, the commission sought to clarify the key issues related to bee health and key actions that it intends to take to address them.
"Beekeeping is a widely-developed activity in the European Union (EU), both at professional (keepers with over 150 hives) and hobby level," the communiqué began. "There are around 700,000 beekeepers in the EU out of which around 97% are non-professional accounting for around 67% of EU hives. Honey production is estimated to be close to 200,000 tons. Beekeeping is also associated with the production of other products such as wax, royal jelly, propolis, etc."
Epoch Times reporter Marco 't Hoen subsequently sought out Mussen for information on CCD and honey bee health in the United States. Mussen told him that CCD is a worldwide problem.
Twenty-five percent of beekeepers in the United States have recurring problems with CCD, Mussen said. The colonies range in size from one to 15,000.
Wrote the reporter: "He (Mussen) believes that in the U.S., CCD is caused by an infectious disease, which they have not yet identified. His reasoning is based on the fact that when bees are introduced to replace the dead one, they die as well. But when the hive is cleaned properly the new bees can survive."
Indeed, CCD is linked to multiple causes, including diseases, pests, pesticides, malnutrition and stress. Weakened colonies don't fare well.
The Epoch Times article quoted USDA statistics indicating that bee pollination of crops "is worth $15 billion per year" in the United States. For example, "the almond industry in California alone used about half of the 2.3 million colonies in the country in 2009 for pollination." In the European Union, about 700,000 beekeepers maintain almost 14 million colonies, according to the EC communiqué.
As an aside, U.S. beekeepers are now gearing up for the California almond season, which usually starts around Feb. 1. The state has more than 700,000 acres of almonds and each acre requires two hives for pollination. Since California doesn't have that many bees, bees are trucked here from all over the country.
It's a gold rush of sorts in the Golden State.
California, here we come!
President Obama just pardoned a couple of turkeys--Apple and Cider. They won't make it to the White House Thanksgiving dinner today.
But what he could have done--when he was pardoning the turkeys--was to praise the honey bees.
Without honey bees, Thanksgiving Day dinner--as we know it--would not exist.
It's time to "bee" thankful.
If your table includes pumpkin, cranberries, carrots, cucumbers, onions, apples, oranges, cherries, blueberries, grapefruit, persimmons, pomegranates, pears, sunflower seeds, and almonds, thank the bees for their pollination services.
Spices? Thank the bees, too. Bees visit the plants that eventually comprise our spices, including sage, basil, oregano and thyme.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, says that even milk and ice cream are linked closely to the honey bee. Cows feed on alfalfa, which is pollinated by honey bees (along with other bees).
So, pardon the turkeys? Well, at least "Apple" and "Cider." But let's praise the honey bees, too.
Bee on Pomegranate Blossom
Bees are in a sticky situation.
Now enter "Sticky Business: Art of the Honey Bee."
It's an art show about honey bees that will run from Tuesday, Nov. 23 from Thursday, Dec. 23 in the Pence Art Gallery, 212 D St., Davis.
Curator Christopher Beer worked with regional artists and researchers from UC Davis, including noted bee specialist Eric Mussen (right), “to investigate this unique insect’s relationship to the Valley and our way of life.”
“This is a group exhibition incorporating themes of environmental conservation with beautiful and thought-provoking fine art on the subject of the honey bee,” Beer said. "The honey bee has provided sweetness to life that has benefited culture since the dawn of civilization. Now, scientists and farmers are eager to identify causes of the current decline of the honey bee population due to colony collapse disorder.”
The art includes paintings, monoprints, sculptures and photographs “that will set the stage as visitors learn about of the current plight of the honey bee,” Beer said.
Also planned: a multimedia station combined with informational panels.
Artists will greet guests at a reception set for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 in the Pence Art Gallery.
The 11 artists displaying their work are Donna Billick, Marilyn Judson, Melissa Wood, Adele Shaw, Roma Devanbu and Jeanette Copley, all of Davis; T. S. Linzey of Sacramento; Paula Wenzl Bellacera of West Sacramento; Wesley Wright of San Jose; Russell Bauer of Michigan; and yours truly of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Judson, who will show her intricate paper sculptures of bees, has close ties with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. Her husband, Charles, is an emeritus professor of entomology.
Billick, a self-described "rock artist" and a geneticist by training, is an entomologist at heart. She recently completed a six-foot-long bee sculpture for the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, UC Davis. Billick and entomologist Diane Ullman co-founded and co-direct the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion Program, which created the art in the haven.
And what would a show be without a talk on honey bees? Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology will discuss honey bees and their plight on Saturday, Dec. 11. The event, set from 1 to 4 p.m., and billed as "Kids Create 2010," includes his talk and hands-on art projects for children and their families. "Special guests" will be...guess what...honey bees! They'll be in a bee observation hive provided by the Laidlaw facility. llustrator Jed Alexander of Davis will show the families how to paint a bee, using watercolors. The fee is $5 per person ($4 for Pence Art Gallery members).
All in all, "Sticky Business" promises to be a very sweet event.
"Sticky" is good!
Is coconut oil effective in treating varroa mites, those nasty little mites that plague our honey bees?
The facts aren't in, and research is ongoing.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, will discuss his research, “Coconut Oil - Varroa Treatment or Food Ingredient?” at the California State Beekeepers' Association (CSBA) convention, set Nov. 16-17 in the Embassy Suites, San Luis Obipso.
He'll address the crowd on Tuesday, Nov. 16. (To read more about honey bees, check out his newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, and his Bee Briefs on his website.
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey will address the conference on "Honey Bee Stock Improvement: Challenges and Options" on Thursday, Nov. 18.
In addition, she'll speak Nov. 16 at Cal Poly's Horticulture and Crop Science Department on “Mating is Risky Business and the Benefits Of Being Promiscuous." That talk is part of the Dow AgroSciences Seminar Series: “New Advancements in Biotechnology and Sustainability of Crop Science."
The CSBA is headed by Roger Everett of Porterville, who is also a member of the California State Apiary Board.
CSBA’s purpose is to “educate the public about the beneficial aspects of honey bees, advance research beneficial to beekeeping practices, provide a forum for cooperation among beekeepers and to support the economic and political viability of the beekeeping industry.”
Checking the hives
So you're thinking about becoming a backyard beekeeper...
What considerations are involved?
Honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist and member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, has just revised his Bee Brief on "Getting Started in Beekeeping," posted on the department's website.
"One of your most important considerations," Mussen says, "is the safety of family members and neighbors." Indeed, someone might be allergic to bee stings and require immediate medical attention.
"The only way to find out is to ask the neighbors, and this will allow you to find out whether or not there is serious opposition to your keeping bees in the neighborhood," Mussen says.
Among the other considerations:
1. Over how much of the year will nectar and pollens be available to the bees? Will you have to feed the bees to ensure their survival?
2. Over how much of the year will water be available to the bees? They need it every day.
3. What will the bees be flying over to get their food and water? They defecate in flight and bee feces can damage finishes on cars and leave colored spots on everything below them. Also, will they be flying across a pedestrian, bicycle or equestrian pathway? If so, they have to be encouraged to gain altitude quickly by installing fencing or solid, tall plantings near the hives.
4. Is the apiary accessible year around? Flooding at or near the apiary site is the usual problem.
5. Try to avoid low spots. They hold cold, damp air for prolonged periods.
6. Try to avoid hilltops. They tend to be windy.
Mussen goes on to talk about beekeeping equipment, costs, knowledge of diseases, beekeeping journals, and the "bible" on honey bees, the 1324-page book: The Hive and the Honey Bee.
It's a good idea to join a local beekeeping organization and get tips from the veterans.
Beginning beekeeping books? Mussen points out that Kim Flottum, editor of Bee Culture magazine, recently published a 167-page book, The Backyard Beekeeper, and that UC Davis emeritus professor Norman Gary (and bee wrangler) has written a beekeeping book, The Honey Bee Hobbyist, due out in November or December.
There's a wealth of information out there to help you get started.
Honey Bee on Begonia