Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
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
Do bees stop and smell the roses?
Maybe. Honey bees gather nectar and pollen from a variety of flowers, including their favorites, the salvias, mints and lavenders. They also forage on wild roses, but usually not on commercially grown roses.
Sometimes, however, you'll see a honey bee tucked in the folds of rose petals or "resting" on a rose. Ah, the sweet smell of roses!
The quote, "Stop and smell the roses," is often attributed to golfer Walter Hagen in the 1956 book "The Walter Hagen Story" but he didn't mention roses. The quote: "You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."
Do worker bees stop and smell the roses?
For sure, bees are here for only a short while. Worker bees generally live four to six weeks. During the busy season, a 60,000-member colony will lose some 1000 workers a day, says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. The queen bee replaces them by laying 1000 to 2000 eggs a day.
All that work to build up the colony...then poof! their lives end.
Well, maybe they stop and rest on the roses.
Hide and Seek
And also barbecued marinated ball tip and chicken quarters with barbecued beans and salad.
You can't ask for anything better than that! Bugs on the agenda and ball tip on the plates! (Well, salad, too!)
The occasion: the last Nor Cal meeting of the year. The members and their guests will meet from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 in the Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District, 155 Mason Circle, Concord.
One of the hot topics is a newly discovered disease that kills black walnut trees.
Research entomologist Steve Seybold (above) of the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Davis, and an affiliate of the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, will provide an update on the disease at 10:15 a.m. Caused by a newly described fungus (Geosmithia morbida) spread by the tiny walnut twig beetle (Pityophthorus juglandis), it is known as "thousand cankers disease."
The disease is becoming a "significant problem" in California and seven other western states and could very well spread throughout the United States. It was detected in Tennessee last summer.
The society's agenda:
Registration for club members and guests, with coffee
“Bedding Plant/Container Color Alliance in California,” Christine Casey, UC Davis
“Thousand Cankers Disease” by Steve Seybold of the USDA Forest Service and an affiliate of the UC Davis Department of Entomology
“Statewide Invasive Insect and Mite Activities, 2009-2010, by Kevin Hoffman, Pest Detection and Emergency Projects, California Department of Food and Agriculture
Annual business meeting; election of officers
Catered lunch by Kinder’s Custom Meats (barbecued marinated ball tip and chicken quarters with barbecued beans, tossed green salad, potato and fresh fruit salads, assorted soft drinks and cookie for $15)
“UC Berkeley Drywood Termite Inspection Research Update” by Robin Tabuchi of UC Berkeley
“Oriental Fruit Moth Parasitoid" by UC Integrated Pest Management (UC IPM) Program Advisor Walter Bentley, UC Kearney Agricultural Center, Pariier
The Northern California Entomology Society meets three times a year: the first Thursday in February in Sacramento; the first Thursday in May, at UC Davis; and the first Thursday in November in Concord. Membership is open to the public; dues are $10 year. The president is agricultural biologist Matthew Slattengren of the Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty serves as the secretary-treasurer and is taking reservations for the luncheon. He may be reached at email@example.com or call (530) 752-0472.
The society is comprised of university faculty, researchers, pest abatement professionals, students and other interested persons.
The officers are hoping to build up membership in the organization, so if you have a keen interest in bugs--or what's bugging California--sign up!
Walnut Twig Beetle
You want to make sure that Mr. and Mrs. Yellowjacket and all their offspring--plus nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins and assorted other relatives--aren't on the invite list.
And if you're a beekeeper, you don't want them killing your honey bees. "They pull the bees off at the entrance, dismember them and fly away with the parts--generally the head--to feed to their larvae," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen (right) of the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Indeed, these predatory insects can be a major problem this time of the year.
When Mussen addressed the Santa Clara County Beekeeping Guild on Monday, Oct. 4, he asked the 60 attendees: "How many of you have had significant problems with yellowjackets?"
About eight hands shot up.
What to do?
"It was around a decade ago that we lost the use of flowable microencapsulated diazinon (Knox Out 2FM^® ) as a yellowjacket bait poison," Mussen said in a message he also shared today with the UC Davis Department of Entomology. "As long as the wasps did not taste it, they would take the contaminated bait back to the nests and share it with their brood and other adults. It was amazing! Often in 48 hours the colonies were out of business and the area was clear of yellowjackets."
Recently, a new microencapsulated product, Onslaught^® , containing esfenvalerate, has come on the market to be mixed into yellowjacket baits, Mussen said. Formulating the bait is the same as it was with diazinon--about 1/4 teaspoonful of the insecticide in about 12 ounces of the bait.
Yellowjackets are attracted to many odorous potential foods when their prey runs out and they turn to scavenging, said Mussen, adding that the chemical seems quite a draw when it's mixed with canned, fish-based cat food.
"Try a couple samples of cat food without insecticide to see which product is most attractive to your local yellowjacket population. Then place about three ounces of formulated bait in each trap and things should get better fast."
"You can find this product on the web as Alpine Yellowjacket Bait Station Kit. A multi-year supply (one pint) of microencapsulated esfenvalerate and four bait stations--they look like over-sized, plastic prescription bottles with a hole in the side and a string for hanging--will cost about $85 before shipping. Sounds like a lot of money for a small amount of product, but if you need to clear out the yellowjackets in a hurry--wedding reception, fair, outdoor barbecue, your own peace of mind-- this is a good investment."
And don't even think about inserting insecticidal wasp baits in that empty soda bottle lying on the ground near your picnic table. It's illegal to put pesticides, including insecticidal wasp baits, into used food and drink containers.
"The last thing you would want is for someone to accidentally eat or drink your poisoned bait," he said.