It's All About the Bees

Sep 24, 2008

It's all about the bees.

When A. G. Kawamura, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, and the newly selected State Apiary Board meet from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 3 at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis, they'll talk about the troubled bee business, tour the facility, elect new officers, and listen to research presentations.

Members of the apiary board are all beekeepers. The five members represent the state's major geographical regions. They are Jackie Park-Burris of Palo Cedro, president of the California State Beekeepers' Association; Leroy Brant of Oakdale; Lyle Johnston of Madera; Steve Godlin of Visalia; and Richard Ashurst of Westmorland. They will each serve a four-year term. The UC Davis liaison is apiculturist Eric Mussen, member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty and a Cooperative Extension bee specialist since 1976.

If there's ever been an industry under attack, it's the apiary industry.  The bees are subjected to stress, parasites, diseases, pesticides, malnutrition, climate change, and that mysterious phenomonen known as colony collapse disorder (CCD), in which bees abandon their hives..

Meanwhile, the United States is facing its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The new "buzz words" include mortgage meltdowns, skyrocketing fuel prices, diving stocks,  and crumbling financial institutions.

But there's another "buzz" that should grab our attention: the bees.

Honey bees pollinate about one-third of the food we eat. They pollinate more than 90 fruit, vegetable and nut crops, including apples, strawberries,  cherries, peaches, cantaloupe, tomatoes, cucumbers, and almonds.

As state legislators agreed when they formed the apiary board:  "A healthy and vibrant apiary industry is important to the economy and welfare of the state" and the industry's "promotion and protection is in the interest of the people of the state of Califonria."

It is indeed. 


By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

A newborn bee at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. During the busy season, a worker bee will live only four to six weeks.(Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Newborn bee

Concerned about bee health are (from left) UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey; Yuba City beekeeper Valerie Severson of Yuba City; and UC Davis apiculturist Eric Mussen. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Examining bees