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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

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

 

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.”

Helping Bees with Cover Crops Helps Orchards

Keeping Pollinating Bees in Almond Orchards

By Jessica Theisman, Associate Editor

California Ag Today recently spoke with Billy Synk, director of pollination programs with project Apis M, a group whose goal is to fund and direct research for the health of honey bees. Synk discussed bees and cover crops in almond orchards.

“They have a preference for the almonds bloom,” he explained.

Almond blossoms have 25 percent protein. The structure of the flower is also a lot more open, making it easier to get into than other flowers.

“UC Davis has done research on bloom competition. It really is not a valid concern as much as you want to keep bees on a specific crop or in a specific area. So if you’re able to provide that alternative flowers right underneath the trees, you’re just going to keep them from wandering off,” Synk said.

Cover crops are planted around almond orchards to stimulate honeybees. One of these mixes is called PAm mustard mix.

“That master mix has canola, three different species of mustard, and then daikon radishes,” he said. “The white daikon radish is not just for the honeybees; it benefits the soil as well. Its long taproot breaks up compacted soil and provides much needed organic matter when it decomposes.”

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/

 

 

 

 

 

Bayer CropScience Gives $100,000 to Sponsor Project Apis m.’s Honey Bee Forage Program

Every year, more than 1.7 million honey bee colonies are brought to California’s Central Valley to pollinate the vast expanses of almond orchards. Many bees arrive in the fall when little is in bloom to escape their native cold temperatures in anticipation of the world’s largest pollination event.

Prior to and after the almond orchard’s bloom in late winter and spring, there is a shortage of food to help the bees survive. Bees’ food consists of nectar and pollen gathered from blooming plants.

To help address the pre- and post-bloom food challenge, Bayer CropScience is giving $100,000 to Project Apis m., a nonprofit organization dedicated to better bee health through its work with growers. Project Apis m. will use the funds to provide seed mixes to growers in California and Washington who have agreed to plant cover crops for honey bees before and after almond bloom and other key seasons. The project will help build a healthier bee population to support crop pollination nationwide as bee colonies are transported to other states for other growing seasons.

“This initiative is a direct response to the lack of adequate forage needed to keep honey bees healthy and thriving,” said Jim Blome, president and CEO of Bayer CropScience LP North America. “In 2015, Bayer CropScience is committed to research and partnerships that will make a positive impact on honey bees.”

Bayer’s expanded partnership with Project Apis m. will complement its joint field research projects conducted on fence rows near almond orchards at Bayer’s Western Bee Care Technology Station in Fresno, California. Findings from Bayer’s research with Project Apis m. show that forage plantings also can have benefits for growers.

If growers allow forage plantings adjacent to fields, rather than planting from fence row to fence row, they can reduce the loss of irrigation water, better manage soil quality and weeds, and help support wildlife, including pollinators. Local growers and landowners will plant the provided seeds on land with crops and on nearby plots to help ensure direct benefit to them and nearby bee colonies.

“With funding from Bayer, Project Apis m. will be able to work with growers to plant more acres of honey bee habitat right where it can be accessed by honey bees before the almond crop’s first bloom around Valentine’s Day,” said Christi Heintz, executive director of Project Apis m. and liaison to the Almond Board of California’s Bee Task Force. “Additionally, with Bayer’s help from its Fresno Research Station, we know the best plant species and mixes to use to feed bees and save them from starving.”

Project Apis m. will work with almond and other growers to get commitments for cover crops that will be planted in Fall 2015.