Posts Tagged: Eric Mussen
Almond pollination season is approaching, and with it, come concerns.
Mussen, a former New Englander who has seen dozens of almond pollination seasons in California (he's been a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976), says California now has approximately 710,000 acres of almonds. Each acre requires two hives for pollination.
Since California doesn't have that many bees, beekeepers from around the country truck in their colonies. The going rate per hive over the last several years has ranged from $100 to $150.
Generally, California's almond pollination season starts around Feb. 10, Mussen says, and ends around March 10. That takes into account the early, mid- or late varieties that bloom at different times. However, the pollination period for each individual orchard is around 10 days.
The flight hours of a honey bee during almond pollination season? Approximately nine hours a day over a 10-day bloom period.
And what are flight hours? Mussen defines "flight hours" as "the number of hours above 55 degrees when the wind is less than 15 miles per hour, given a sufficient level of sunlight without rainfall."
"I believe that if the tree varieties overlap well in bloom, the bees usually have moved the pollen around in the morning and early afternoon on good flight days," he writes in his newsletter. "That probably requires only about four hours a day."
Of course, poor weather can interfere significantly with "fertilization and nut set," Mussen says, "but it would not be the fault of the bees."
As a service to beekeepers and growers, a retired beekeeper posts information on the Almond Board of California Web site indicating who's renting colonies and who needs pollination.
Meanwhile, check out the images below of UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Kim Fondrk in a Dixon, Calif. almond orchard. Fondrk manages the Honey Bee Pollen Hoarding Selection Program at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, under the direction of Robert E. Page Jr., Arizona State University. Fondrk and Page moved the bees from Arizona to California several years ago.
The January newsletter published by the eXtension.org Bee Health Community of Practice includes:
* New Feature: Managed Pollinator CAP Updates
* Social Media Strategy Developed
* YouTube Channel Launched
* New Feature: University of Florida Bee Disease Videos
* FAQ's Organized by Category
* Google Analytics: Bee Health Homepage in Top 10 at eXtension.org
* On the Calender
One of the many bee experts who answers the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) is John Skinner of the University of Tennessee, who has strong UC Davis connections. He received his doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1987, studying with major professor and native pollinator specialist Robbin Thorp. Although an emeritus professor since 1994, Thorp continues his research. He maintains an office in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis.
Here's a sampling of the questions that Skinner answered in the last few months:
How Do Bees Make Wax?
Bees produce the beeswax used in the construction of their combs from the four pair of wax glands located on the underside of the abdomen. These glands are most highly developed and active in bees 10-18 days old. The wax appears in small, irregular oval flakes or scales that project between the overlapped portions of the last four abdominal segments. Wax can be secreted only at relatively high temperatures and after a large intake of honey or nectar. --John Skinner, University of TennesseeHow Do Bees in a Swarm Determine Where to Go for a New Home?
A swarm of bees hanging on a branch includes a queen and thousands of worker bees. Some of these bees function as scouts and search the surrounding area for a suitable category to move into. The scouts return to the swarm cluster and dance to communicate information to the bees in the swarm. There may be numerous dances all going on at the same time. The results are similar to a dance contest where the number of dances is reduced until only one dancer left. Within a half hour of reaching an “agreement” the swarm flies to the new location. --John Skinner, University of TennesseeHow Long Do Honey Bees Live?
During the active season, the lifetime of a worker is five to six weeks. Overwintering worker bees may, however, live for four to six months. Whatever their life span, worker bees usually confine themselves to one task at a time, working without pause. If they are field bees, they may be scouts or collectors. Scouts look for sources of nectar and pollen. Once suitable sources are located, the scouts recruit additional foragers.
Nectar collectors, pollen foragers, water gatherers or propolis gatherers work so single-mindedly at their jobs, they will not stop even to collect honey placed before them. During the day, one may see hundreds of spent workers, wings ragged, returning wearily to the hive. Worker bees are aptly named as they literally work themselves to death. Death occurs following approximately 500 miles of flight. --John Skinner, University of TennesseeHow Can Worker Honey Bees Perform So Many Tasks in Their Short Lives?
The lives of the worker bees fall roughly into two periods. During the first period of approximately three weeks, they are called hive or house bees. On emerging from their cells, they groom themselves and engorge on honey and pollen from the storage cells. Their first three days are spent cleaning out brood cells. Thereafter as they mature, glands including labial, salivary, hypopharangeal and wax become functional they feed the older larvae and then the younger larvae, take orientation flights, evaporate nectar, build comb, feed the queen and the drones, keep an even temperature in the brood nest and guard the entrance to the hive. These differences in responsibilities based on worker age are known as a division of labor. But, depending on specific circumstances, it can be very flexible.
The last half of a worker bee’s adult life is devoted to foraging duties outside the hive. Four necessary items collected outside the hive are pollen, nectar, water and propolis (bee glue).--John Skinner, University of TennesseeGot a question? Just ask it on this page.
Another noted bee expert connected with the "Bee Health" Web site is Extension Apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty. Read some of his answers to FAQs posted on the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility Web site.
It's all about keeping our bees healthy.
Trio on Sedum
Say that at the American Honey Producers' Association (AHPA) convention Jan. 5-9 in Sacramento, and it's not a term of endearment.
It's an occupation, a calling and a passion.
AHPA's mission is to promote the common interest and general welfare of the American honey producer.
Two representatives from the University of California, Davis, are among the speakers.
Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty, will conduct a nosema workshop. Bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey, manager of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, will discuss "Honey Bee Genetic Diversity and Stock Importation Protocols."
Those are just a few of the topics. Others include:
- "EPA's Commitment to Protect The Honey Bee" by Steve Bradbury, EPA Deputy Director, Office of Pesticide Programs, Washington, D.C.
- "Why Do We Keep Losing Bees?: An Update on the Work at the Beltsville Bee Lab" by Judy Chen, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD.
- "Where Value Goes Beyond the Truck: What Every Beekeeper Should Know About Transporting Bees" by Richard Ericksrud, WC Freight LLC, New York Mills, Minn.
- "A New Breakthrough in Mite Treatments: Mite Away Quick Strips" by David Vanderdusen, NOD Apiary Products, Ontario, Canada
- "The Sierra Club: Working to Protect Pollinators (The Nicotine Bees Preview)" by Neil Carman, Sierra Club chemist, Austin, Texas
- "New Research on Small Hive Beetles, Management and Breeding Russian Honey Bees for Almond Pollination" by Tom Rinderer, research leader, USDA-ARS, Baton Rouge, LA
Think of honey as not only nature's sweetener but something that can give you medical benefits.
Now that's a good way to start the year off right!
Hap-bee New Year!/span>
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...