Bees and Pollination

UC Davis Offering Beginner Beekeeping Classes

Do You Want to Become a Beekeeper or Learn More About Beekeeping?

News Release

The California Master Beekeeper Program (CAMBP), directed by Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, is hosting two short beekeeping classes in early August: one on “Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” and the other, “Working Your Colonies.”

Each will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus. The deadline to register is Thursday, Aug. 1.

“These courses are foundational to beekeeping husband excellence,” said Wendy Mather, program manager. “They are great for folks who are thinking about getting bees next season, as well as those who currently have bees and want to ensure they’re doing whatever they can to ensure the success of their hives.”

The classes are not required to become a California Master Beekeeper, but are highly recommended, as “they will help folks prepare to become a science-based beekeeping ambassador,” Mather said. Instructors are Elina Niño and CAMPB educational supervisor Bernardo Niño, a staff research assistant in the Niño lab.

Planning Ahead for Your First Hives
“Planning Ahead for Your First Hives” will take place Saturday, Aug. 3, and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what’s necessary to get the colony started and keep it healthy and thriving. They will learn about bee biology, beekeeping equipment, how to install honey bee packages, how to monitor their colonies (that includes inspecting and monitoring for varroa mites) and other challenges with maintaining a healthy colony.

The course is limited to 25 participants. The $105 registration fee covers the cost of course materials (including a hive tool), lunch, and refreshments. Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/572.

 Working Your Colonies
“Working Your Colonies” will take place Sunday, Aug. 4, and will include both lectures and hands-on activities. Participants will learn what is necessary to maintain a healthy colony. Lectures will cover advanced honey bee biology, honey bee integrated pest management, and products of the hive. Participants also will learn about queen wrangling, honey extraction, splitting/combined colonies, and monitoring for varroa mites.

The course is limited to 25 participants per session. The $175 registration fee covers the cost of course materials, lunch, and refreshments. For more information or to register, see https://registration.ucdavis.edu/Item/Details/559.

Participants can bring their bee suit or veil if they have one, or protective gear can be provided. All participants are to wear closed-toed and closed-heel shoes, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt.

The California Master Beekeeping Program uses science-based information to educate stewards and ambassadors for honey bees and beekeeping. For more information, contact Mather at wmather@ucdavis.edu.

2019-07-15T14:19:28-07:00July 15th, 2019|

More Effort in Bee Protection

The Current Bee Buzz with CAPCA CEO Ruthann Anderson

By Mikenzi Meyers, Associate Editor

With spring right around the corner, it is crucial that farmers and beekeepers are working together to ensure bee protection. Ruthann Anderson, CEO for the California Association of Pest Control Advisers (CAPCA) is adamant about the communication between the two.

Anderson has been in correspondence with Ag Commissioners to create a reliable system in response to the AB-2468 law signed last year.

“The registry will come through a few different portals, but it will all go into CalAg Permits, into their sensitive site layer,” Anderson said.

She further explained that through this layer, the applicator can access beekeepers within a mile and request information.

CAPCA CONFERENCE 2016 audience

Ruthann Anderson, CAPCA CEO

“That communication in the field is so important for us, especially during almond bloom, but even beyond that, it is just education of beekeepers. Helping them understand what the rules and regulations are and how they are set up to provide them the privacy they are requesting,” Anderson said.

2019-02-06T16:42:52-08:00February 6th, 2019|

Bee Where Program Will Help Keep Bees Safe in The Spring

Beekeepers Must Register Their Bee Hive Locations

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

There’s a mandate set in place by the state of California to help the bee industry safe from pesticide spraying. Ethan Rasmussen with Rasmussen Farms and a beekeeper in the Gustine area of Merced County discussed it with California Ag Today recently. The Bee Where program mandates beekeepers to register their hives under AB2468. It was set up to help pollinating bees during the pollination season. It especially helps the almond crop during bloom.registration of hives

“It’s definitely a step forward for beekeeping industry because we have so many beekeepers coming to California,” Rasmussen said. “The almond industry is growing. It’s going to keep on growing. And that means there’s going to be an increased amount of beekeepers in the state during the springtime for almond bloom.”

With increased bees in almond orchards, it definitely increases concerns, specifically with theft and with sprays, and this program looks like it should help with that.

However, Rasmussen fears too much paperwork because there are so many different locations where there will be bees and so many different beekeepers.

“It’s going to be a lot of work, but if we can coordinate and everyone does their part it should definitely a step in the right direction.

And while all of the registrations are done online, Rasmussen noted that there still a complicated amount of paperwork to keep up with all those locations where you will have those bees.

“We’re going to have over 150 locations during almond bloom, and each one of those has to be registered with the county or whatever agency is going to handle it, and that’s a really busy time of year for us. So that’s the only concern I see,” he said.

Rasmussen said that compared to five years ago, almond growers are way more aware of protecting bees, thanks to beekeeping organizations and the Almond Board of California. There have been a lot of resources given to growers, and they are doing well.

“We are not so much concern with almond growers; it may be the peach grower down the road that could be spraying when our bees are foraging,” he said. “The new law is going to keep us registered, so anyone that’s going to spray is going to go through their PCA, and they will know where the bees are. That way, they will know whether or not to spray.”

2018-11-19T16:59:19-08:00November 19th, 2018|

UC Davis Student Maureen Page Speaks for the Bees

Maureen Page to Spread Flowers for Bees

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor
Maureen Page pollination

Maureen Page

California Ag Today recently spoke with doctoral student Maureen Page of the Neal William’s lab at UC Davis, Department of Entomology and Nematology. She is the recipient of a prestigious three-year fellowship for promoting food security by optimizing wildflower planting. She supports the wild and bee management. We asked her about the flowers that she plans on planting to help those bees.

“I do believe that in general, flowers are really important for bees. Planting flowers are generally good for them,” she said.

Although planting is good for the bees, there are some precautions that need to be made.

“Some flowers can be somewhat toxic to bees. Some do not actually provide bees with pollen and nectar resources,” Page said.

There are many ornamental plants that are bred to not have much pollen so that people do not sneeze as much.

“On top of that, if you are planting non-native species that are really weedy, it may be great for the bees, but might not be great for other plant species,” Page said.

2021-05-12T11:05:11-07:00June 21st, 2018|

UC Davis Pollination Ecologist Wins 3-Year Fellowship

Fellowship Comes From the Department of Defense

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Editor

Maureen Page Awarded Fellowship to Optimize Wildflower Plantings

Doctoral student Maureen Page of the Neal Williams lab at the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology is the recipient of a prestigious three-year fellowship, a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship for her research proposal: Promoting Food Security by Optimizing Wildflower Plantings to Support Wild and Managed Bees.

Page, a pollination ecologists, was one of 69 awardees selected from more than 3,600 applicants. The Department of Defense funds her fellowship.

“Most people probably are aware that both managed honeybees and many of the wild native species that we have in California as well as in the U.S. have major stressors that are contributing to declines in their populations,” Page said.

And of course, the bee populations suffer when there’s a lack of floral resources to pollinate. “Especially when crops are not in bloom and bees need pollen and nectar to survive. And so without enough resources, it can have dramatic declines in bee populations,” she said.

Page explained that bees are critically important to our food supply. “It’s estimated that about a third of the food supply directly benefits from insect pollination. Many of those crops are entirely dependent on insect pollination,” she said. “Without bees and other insects, those particular crops wouldn’t even be able to set fruit and many others, which while not wholly dependent on insect pollination benefit very much from insect pollination, which means more production and lower prices so that more people can afford healthy, nutritious food.”

2021-05-12T11:05:11-07:00May 25th, 2018|

Happy, Healthy Bees are Better Pollinators

Keeping Bees Happy

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

Becky Langer is the project manager for the North American Bayer Bee Care Program. She spoke with California Ag Today recently about the problems that the bee population is facing.

“Bees are continuing to face multiple challenges. People are getting a better grasp of awareness that pests and diseases continue to be a huge problem in beehives,” Langer said.

A big contender in the problem is forage and habitat. Beekeepers are working hard to monitor and control the issue.

“We know that the beekeepers and growers have to continue to communicate with one another and use all those products according to label,” Langer explained.

It is also important for producers to increase the variety or forages around their land to keep bee populations healthy.

If farmers could have something blooming year-round, it would help keep the pollinators healthy.

“They also like diversity in different plant species, different colors, different sizes, flowers,” Langer said. “If the bees are happy and healthy, they will be better pollinators for the crops. You can help keep bees healthy by following the label directions carefully on your sprays and fertilizers.”

For more information on the Bayer Bee Health program

 

2018-04-06T15:11:43-07:00April 6th, 2018|

Registration of Hives for Notification

Beekeepers Should Register the Position of their Hives

By Laurie Greene, Founding Editor

Tim Pelican, Agricultural Commissioner for San Joaquin County, recently explained to California Ag Today the critical importance for beekeepers to register the location of their delivered hives to farm operators, so the beekeepers can be notified when farmers are preparing to spray.

Pelican suggests farmers not spray during the day when bees are active, even if the product label does not suggest this restraint. He also reported that state agricultural commissioners are working on “our concern about the lack of notification by beekeepers to farmers about the exact location of their delivered beehives when we have instances of reported bee kills.”

“Beekeepers are supposed to register with the county,” Pelican explained, “when they move beehives into the counties. It is like a $5 fee, but for some reason people just do not do it. Beekeepers tend to be secretive sometimes, but we do keep all of that information strictly to ourselves. That’s not something we issue to the public.”

Pelican also mentioned that Ag commissioners will attempt to encourage farmers to notify schools about nearby spraying.

“We are actually notifying growers who are impacted. When they come in and do their pickup, their permits, we will have computers available to them to help them get their notification done. Their PCAs or dealers, if they are listed on their permit, can do the notification for them as well.”

“That notification then goes directly to the affected school,” he continued. “Then that school also can take a look and see which growers are applying what products. That information, however, is available only to the people who can get into the computer program—school officials, the grower, or the Ag commissioner. This is not information that is out there for the general public. The program has the ability to transfer the chemicals listed on the permit over to the notification. That way we are avoiding duplication of effort.”

2021-05-12T11:01:55-07:00March 29th, 2018|

Billy Synk Manages Seeds for Bees Program

Cover Crops and Bee Health

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Billy Synk, director of pollination programs with project Apis m (the genus/species of European honey bee). We asked him about bees and the importance of cover crops in relation to bee health, and orchard soil health.

Early this year was difficult year with the lack of rain.

“Those almond growers that were on drip did not really have great cover crop stands,” he said.

The project Apis m mustard mix  is a combination of canola, musters, and daikon radish that will bloom before the almonds and give the bees a boost of nutrition energy before the almond bloom starts.

“All these colonies from everywhere in America that are at their hungriest or at the weakest are placed in almond orchards, and they’ve got their most important job to do: that’s pollinate almonds,” Synk explained.

These cover crops are important to get bees stimulated before almond bloom.

“If you can get them stimulated before the almonds bloom, they are going to have a lot more vigor and vitality and really attack those blooms when it is time,” Synk said.

The bees go after the almond blossoms in what is called a positive feedback loop.

“They are looking for signs of spring, day length, and temperature, but they’re also looking for the very first fresh pollen to come in that year,” Synk said.

Bees will lay more eggs inside their hive when the new pollen comes.

“That brood has a pheromone that cues the bees to  leave the hive to harvest more pollen to support more bees, and the whole cycle continues,” Synk explained.

2021-05-12T11:05:13-07:00March 5th, 2018|

Cover Crops Help Bees and Soil

Flowering Cover Crops Stimulates Bees

By Patrick Cavanaugh, Farm News Director

California Ag Today recently interviewed Billy Synk, director of pollination programs for Project Apis m and manager of the Seeds for Bees Project. The Project Apis m mission is to fund and direct research to enhance the health and vitality of honeybee colonies while improving crop production. He spoke on the benefits of cover crops for honeybee health.

“It’s an amazing project and an exciting project to work on and manage because it’s doing two good things at once. It’s a win-win situation. It’s helping out the soil and helping out bees,” Synk said.

When Synk speaks to growers, he mentions those two good reasons.

“Do it to help the bees that are in your orchard become stronger, and do a better job pollinating, but then also help your soil with organic matter and improved water infiltration.”

There are about two million beehives, coming to California from every corner of the United States, and the bees are very hungry.

“Not only are they very hungry, they’re the hungriest they have been all year, and their most important job is to pollinate almonds. Well, if you can have a cover crop blooming before those almonds bloom, you can stimulate them a lot better and create a positive feedback loop,” Synk said.

Synk explained that as more pollen comes into the hive, they rear more bees.

“That brood has a pheromone that tell the adult bees to leave the hive and go collect pollen. That stimulation is just going to make that hive excited and strong and ready to go the day that those almonds bloom,” he said.

Contact Project Apis m for more information and to possibly get cover crop seeds to plant this season.

https://www.projectapism.org/

 

 

 

 

 

2021-05-12T11:05:14-07:00December 12th, 2017|

Dried Plum Prices and Production

Not on the Same Page: California Dried Plum Prices and Production

by Laurie Greene, Editor

 

Gary Obenauf, agricultural research coordinator for the California Dried Plums Board, confirmed, “We had a normal crop last year. Prices are still up—have been up for the last several yearsand we are anticipating pretty good prices over the next several years for dried plum production.

Obenauf attributed good prices to crop shortage. “We went through several years of depressed prices, so we adjusted by taking out a number of acres a year ago,” he elaborated. “We’ve had acreage reductions in other parts of the world as well.”

Plums UCCE prunes

Plums (Source: UCCE)

So, while production is currently adequate for the current global market, Obenauf stated, “We’re now in the planning process again, trying to increase production. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

California is the world leader in dried plum production, according to the 2015 Prune Research Reports published in January, 2016 by the California Dried Plums Board, but is almost entirely dependent on the use of a single cultivar, the Improved French prune. “This monoclonal [cells or cell products derived from a single biological clone] situation lends itself to vulnerability to widespread disease, pest outbreaks and annual, statewide variations in yield caused by variable weather conditions that can negatively or positively affect fruit set and/or fruit retention.”

CA Dried Plum BoardSo despite enduring high prices, Obenauf explained, “we actually had real good chilling this year and a real heavy bloom during the bloom time, but we got over eight inches of rain in most of the plum production arearight in the middle of full bloom. We just didn’t have the bee activity to set a good crop. We’re estimating about half a crop this year.”

“As a grower,” Obenauf said, “you don’t have the production to make ends meet well when you have a short crop. And buyers like a more secure volume level. These up and down levels don’t help anybody.”

________________________

CURRENT RESEARCH

California Dried Plum Board has directed the development of new, acceptable or superior, dried plum cultivars to increase the efficiency of California dried plum production and give some protection against the risks involved with a monoculture. To stay globally competitive, current research goals include:

  1. Reduce production cost

a.  Develop new dried plum cultivars with cost-saving characteristics such as improved tree structure that would require less pruning

b. Improve fruit dry matter content to decrease drying costs

c. Increase plant tolerance to pests and diseases.

  1. Promote a broadening of the consumer base

a. Introduce new dried plums that differ in flavor or color

b. Improve dried fruit characteristics

  1. Adapt to California’s dry, hot climate

a. Introduce greater diversity of bloom timing in seedlings so the entire Californian crop will not be dependent on the same set of weather conditions during periods critical for fruit set and retention.

Featured Photo: Plums (Source: UC ANR Cooperative Extension)

2021-05-12T11:00:53-07:00June 13th, 2016|
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