Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
“Beekeepers in California are cautiously optimistic that their colonies are going to survive the winter in better shape that they have in the past few years,” says Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. ”Instead of having to feed their colonies all summer, they were glad to see that many colonies actually benefitted from last year’s nearly seasonal rainfall and produced some honey.”
Mussen said it’s too early to predict where the stress relief of better season forage will result in “a lessening of CCD, but better-fed bees can handle much more adversity than poorly fed bees.”
Mussen will be the keynote speaker at a "Bee Informed" public event, set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Historic Ballroom of the Citizen Hotel, 926 J St., Sacramento. The educational celebration will focus on bees and honey through speeches, displays, drinks and food. A donation of $10 will be asked at the door, with donations benefitting the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
With the recent rise of colony collapse disorder, increased honey bee awareness is vital for the preservation of local honey farms, said event coordinator Elaine Baker, pastry chef at the Citizen Hotel/Grange Restaurant.
“We’ll have honey-based cocktails available at a cash bar, a tea and coffee station, and I’m creating a selection of mini desserts, each featuring a different honey.”
“Honey is one of my favorite ingredients to use in desserts because of its beautifully nuanced flavors and gorgeous colors,” said Baker, who blogs about food at http://www.elainebakerspastryplayground.com/. “It’s just magical.”
She's right. It's just magical. Show me the honey.
And what she's doing to help the bees is magical, too.
The key goals of the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden planted last fall next to the Laidlaw facility on Bee Biology Road, are to provide the Laidlaw bees and other pollinators with a year-around food source; to raise public awareness about the plight of honey bees, to encourage visitors to plant bee-friendly gardens of their own, and to serve as a research site.
And oh, yes, it's open year around to homo sapiens, too.
Show Me the Honey
"There aren't that many bees swarming this time of the year," said Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. When bees swarm, they have to consider available food, he said, and the food supply is diminishing as we head into fall.
Often a homeowner will contact the bee biology folks here in the UC Davis Department of Entomology with this request: "I've got a bee swarm on my property. I don't want to kill them and I can't afford to pay for their removal. Do you know of anyone who can remove them for free?"
We usually provide the names of several beekeepers in the area who we know will oblige.
But ala Ghostbusters, "Who ya gonna call?"
Mussen, who writes the from the UC Apiaries newsletter and Bee Briefs, has an excellent piece on bee swarms on his website. It includes a definition of a swarm, what bees do, how swarms are removed and where to find beekeepers to remove them. He also points out that Africanized honey bees are more aggressive.
"Swarming is the honey bee’s method of colony reproduction," he writes in the "Removing Swarms" Bee Brief. "The old queen and half of the worker bees leave their former nest and seek a new home mostly in the spring, but sometimes in late summer. A few worker honey bees, we call 'scouts,' fly around areas in the vicinity of the old hive searching for a suitable, new habitat (the correct sized cavity with an easily protected entrance). Often, that job is not completed when the swarm “issues” from the hive. The outpouring of bees from the hive forms a large, buzzing cloud of insects that seems to be going every direction at once. That flying group of honey bees is the swarm. It is a phenomenal sight that frequently scares people. However, the bees eventually have to regroup, somewhere, while the search for a new home continues."
How do you find someone to remove them? Ala Ghostbusters, "who ya gonna call?"
Mussen advocates consulting the telephone directory (look under "beekeeper" or "beekeeping"). Another good source: the county agricultural commissioner's office.
Ready to Swarm
On the Trunk
And most folks don’t know what it is.
But Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the Department of Entomology faculty at the University of California, Davis, and bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, a researcher at both UC Davis and Washington State University, field dozens of queries about it.
Especially when the yellow-gold droppings splotch cars, businesses, houses and patios in large quantities. The droppings can streak windshields, block skylights, and stain clothing.
“Those little yellow-gold stains," Cobey said, "are bee feces.”
Or, what beekeepers commonly call “bee poop.”
Sacramento area TV station KCRA, Channel 3, interviewed Mussen on Aug. 24. Cobey has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Times and other media.
And, yes, sometimes, waste is a terrible thing to mind.
“It can get pretty messy, especially in the spring,” Cobey said. “It’s tough to remove—I soak it or wet it down and then wipe it off.”
However, if it’s found in large quantities in the hive, it can indicate a serious problem. “Nosema, for example, can cause dysentery,” she said. Nosema, identified as a fungus--a micro-sporidian--is a widespread disease of honey bees.
“Bee droppings have a very distinctive smell, an acidic smell,” Cobey said.
Mussen’s interview with KCRA news reporter Dea Diamont and news photographer Brian Fong, airs tonight (Aug. 26) at 6 and deals with a Patterson homeowner asking about the spots on the outside of her home. A clue: a beekeeper reportedly relocated a 40-hive apiary in the vicinity.
Honey bees are usually in the news for their pollination services or the latest research on latest colony collapse disorder (CCD), the mysterious phenomenon characterized by adult bees abandoning the hive, leaving behind the queen bee, brood, and stored food.
Curious minds, however, want to know "the scoop on poop."
Well, that's what the beekeepers call it.
Visit to the UC Davis Apiary
The wild roses planted last fall in the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, University of California, Davis, are both "heaven sent" and "heaven scent."
The fragrance is delightful.
Basically, only wild roses--not the commercially grown roses found in our gardens--attract bees, according to Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology.
Also in bloom in the half-acre garden, located on Bee Biology Road on the west end of the campus, are salvia (sage), lavender, artichokes, seaside daisies, Mexican hat flowers and purple coneflowers, among others.
The grand opening celebration, open to the public, is set for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11. Folks planning to attend may RSVP to Nancy Dullum of the UC Davis Department of Entomology administrative team, at email@example.com. (Insert "haven" in the subject line and indicate how many in your party will attend.)
It's rare for any one person to serve five terms as president of an organization.
But such is the case with Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who took the helm of the Western Apicultural Society for five terms.
In fact, he and professor-apiculturist Norman Gary, now retired, founded the organization back in 1978 "as a non-profit, educational organization designed specifically to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming; the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon; and the states of northern Mexico."
Fast forward to today.
Mussen is one of two UC Davis bee specialists who will address the group at its annual conference, set Aug. 30-Sept. 2 in the Red Lion Inn, Salem, Ore.
He wiill speak on “Hints for Successful Backyard Beekeeping” at 2:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 1 during the session on Urban/Backyard Beekeepers.”
Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, who heads the breeding program at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis and also is a researcher at Washington State University, will discuss “Why We Need Better Bees” at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 30.
Cobey also will speak on “Progress on Breeding Superior Bees” at 10:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31.
Mussen, who received his doctorate in entomology from the University of Minnesota, writes the bimonthly Extension newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, considered one of the best and most informative in the industry.
Cobey, who studied with noted bee geneticist Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. at UC Davis, returned to UC Davis in 2007 after 17 years as staff apiarist at Ohio State University. She received her entomology degree from the University of Delaware.
In the early 1980s, Cobey developed the New World Carniolans stock, a dark race of honey bees by back-crossing stocks collected from throughout the United States and Canada to create a more pure strain. A current focus of her research includes selecting and enhancing this stock to show increasing levels of resistance to pests and diseases.
Those interested in attending the conference may obtain more information from the WAS website.