A Honey Of A Day - And It Gets Better!

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey    August 18, 2017

Elina Lastro Niño Saturday, Aug. 19 promises to be a honey of a day--in more ways than one! And it gets better!

It's National Honey Bee Day or National Honey Bee Awareness Day, launched in 2009 by newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsak during his first year of office with the Obama Administration.

The goals are the same as those in 2009:

Promote and advance beekeeping

Educate the public about honey bees and beekeeping

Ensure that the public is aware of environmental concerns affecting honey bees

It's a day when we applaud our bees, and the bee scientists, beekeepers, commercial breeders, and all the educational, scientific and research organizations that friend them, fund them, or fuel them.

Indeed, one third of the food we eat is pollinated by bees. What many folks don't realize is that honey bees are not native to the United States. European colonists brought them here in 1622, and it wasn't until 1853 when a beekeeper in the San Jose area introduced them to California.

Statistics provided by the National Honey Bee Day officials, help tell the story of the industry:

For every 100 beekeepers, 95 percent are hobbyists, 4 percent are sideliners, and 1 percent are commercial beekeepers.

Beekeeping dates back at least 4500 years.

Beekeeping can be a sustainable endeavor.

Renting bees to farmers in need of pollination generates a source of income.

Beehives are kept on farms, in backyards, on balconies, and high-rise rooftops, all across the country.

Bees will also take center stage at the 40th annual conference of the Western Apicultural Society(WAS) at the University of California, Davis. The conference, to take place Sept. 5-8 in the Activities and Recreation Center, is quite special because the organization was founded at UC Davis. WAS president is Extension apiculturist emeritus Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology promises an educational program, complete with speakers, networking, tours and a silent auction.

Among those speaking will be Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Niño, who will address the crowd on "The Impact of Varroa on Honey Bee Reproductive Castes (Queen Bee, Worker Bee and Drone): Where Will the Research Lead Us?” Her talk is at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 7.

A varroa mite on a drone pupa (male bee pupa). (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) Niño, based in Briggs Hall and at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, wears a number of hats, including the protective bee veil. Through her extension activities, she works to support beekeepers and the beekeeping industry. Her lab offers a variety of beekeeping courses and educational opportunities for beekeepers, future beekeepers, other agricultural professionals and the public. Most recently, her lab has implemented the first-ever California Master Beekeeper Program. (E. L. Niño bee lab courses: http://eepurl.com/cjRern, CAMBP interest list: http://eepurl.com/cjRzY1). She serves as the faculty director of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology's half-acre bee garden, the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, located next to the Laidlaw facility.

Her research interests encompass basic and applied approaches to understanding and improving honey bee health and particularly honey bee queen health. Ongoing research projects include understanding the synergistic effects of pesticides on queen health and adult workers in order to improve beekeeping management practice, testing novel biopesticides for efficacy against varroa mites, a major pest of bees, and understanding the benefits of supplemental forage in almond orchards on honey bee health. (Read her apiary newsletters, access her lab website at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/ or her lab Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab/)

Writer Stephanie Parreira of the UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program (UC IPM) recently interviewed Niño for a podcast on bee pests and how to manage them, using IPM methods. The podcast appears on the UC ANR Green Blog. You can read the transcript here.

Niño mentioned that varroa mites remain the key concern of beekeepers. "In fact, when I first started my position here as an extension specialist at UC Davis, I asked beekeepers what is one of the things that they would like me to focus on, and about ninety-nine percent of them said varroa mites," she said in the podcast. "Varroa mites are a problem because they basically suck honey bee blood, or honey bee hemolymph, they transmit viruses, [and] they can suppress immune genes in developing and adult bees. So they can kill the colony, basically, if they're not managed properly. We have seen in our own colonies that if we do not treat or manage varroa mites, we know that we will lose that colony over winter."

If you're interested in attending the WAS conference and learning more about bees, you can register here.  The speakers represent a wide spectrum of expertise and topics, from top-bar beekeeping to pesticides to how to keep your colonies healthy.  Or, you can contact President Mussen at ecmussen@ucdavis.edu for more information.  


National Honey Bee Day - August 19, 2017 - Dr. Elina Nino Reminds Us to Help Honey Bees Cope with Pests

Green Blog    By Stephania Parreira    August 17, 2017

National Honey Bee Day is celebrated on the third Saturday of every August. This year it falls on Saturday the 19th. If you use integrated pest management, or IPM, you are probably aware that it can solve pest problems and reduce the use of pesticides that harm beneficial insects, including honey bees. But did you know that it is also used to manage pests that live inside honey bee colonies? In this timely podcast below, Elina Niño, UC Cooperative Extension apiculture extension specialist, discusses the most serious pests of honey bees, how beekeepers manage them to keep their colonies alive, and what you can do to help bees survive these challenges.


To read the full transcript of the audio, click here.

Successful IPM in honey bee colonies involves understanding honey bee pest biology, regularly monitoring for pests, and using a combination of different methods to control their damage.


Visit the following resources for more information

For beekeepers:

The California Master Beekeeper Program

EL Niño Bee Lab Courses

EL Niño Bee Lab Newsletter

For all bee lovers:

EL Niño Bee Lab Newsletter

Haagen Dazs Honey Bee Haven plant list

UC IPM Bee Precaution Pesticide Ratings and video tutorial

Sources on the value of honey bees:

Calderone N. 2012. Insect-pollinated crops, Insect Pollinators and US Agriculture: Trend Analysis of Aggregate Data for the Period 1992–2009.

Flottum K. 2017. U.S. Honey Industry Report, 2016.


LACBA Supports E.L. Nino Bee Lab

E.L Nino Bee Lab   By Elina L. Nino   November 24, 2015

In the spirit of the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday a BIG thank you to our most recent supporters! The Gilroy Beekeepers Association (http://www.uvasgold.com/gba/) has contributed to our Master Beekeeper Program and the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association (/) is providing support for our various research and extension efforts. A BIG, BIG thank you to all our supporters who will be featured in our next newsletter.

E.L. Nino Bee Lab

Ask the Naturalist: Why Do Bees Clean Themselves?

Bay Nature  By Eric Mussen and Elina Nino   July 30, 2015

Photo: Dann Thombs/Flickr
Bay Nature’s marketing director had a recent experience with a very tidy-looking honeybee:

“I was sitting in my car this afternoon when I noticed a cute little bee on my windshield appearing to desperately clean something off itself. At first I thought, oh no, it fell into something and now it’s going to die from whatever contaminated it. I took a cup and put the bee inside, but it rebelled and flew out. When I returned home I googled it and learned that bees do this — clean off pollen, etc. — and especially their eyes before flying home to their hives!”

We decided to get to the bottom of this extraordinary bee behavior and reached out to Eric Mussen, an entomologist at the Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. He and colleague Elina Nino, an Extension apiculturist, sent in this explanation:

Answer: The inside of a bee hive is considered to be a pretty clean environment. The bees produce honey there and we eat it. But, why are honey bees and their hive so clean? It is in their genes.

Honey bees are akin to animated robots that move around in their environment responding to stimuli with behaviors that have served them well for millions of years. Building wax combs to use for food storage and baby bee production allows the bees to keep tens of thousands of bees huddled close together. However, if any type of microbial outbreak occurs, all this closeness could lead to an epidemic and colony death.

The bees exhibit a behavior that deals with that problem. They collect resins from various plant sources. They return to the hive with these sticky masses where their sisters help to unload them. Beekeepers call this substance bee glue (propolis) because it is used to fill small cracks in the hive and cements the boxes together. It also is mixed with beeswax and used as a thin varnish to line the walls of the hives and sometimes portion of combs. Those resins have surprising antimicrobial properties that are effective against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. So, the bees are encased in a shell of antibiotics. Some have suggested that the inside of a hive is as clean as a hospital room, but we are not quite sure about that.

As for the bees themselves, it is common to see them using their legs or mouthparts to clean off other parts of their bodies. For bees, we might think that they are simply moving around or brushing off pollen that they picked up when foraging. However, honey bees live in a suit of armor called an exoskeleton. The exoskeleton is waterproof and protects the insects from invasive microbes. But bees also have to sense what is going on around them, so they have sensory receptors on the surface of their exoskeleton. The most obvious sensory organs on bees are their compound eyes. Honey bees can see objects, detect polarized sunlight, and have good color discrimination, similar to that of humans, but shifted a bit in the color spectrum. Bees wipe their eyes every so often to keep them clean. We humans have eye lids that keep our eyes clean and moist.

The rest of the sensory organs on the exoskeleton are sensilla (stiff hairs and protuberances) or pits that serve as sensory receptors. The tips of honey bees’ antennae have many touch receptors, odor receptors, and a special sensory organ called Johnston’s organ that tells them how fast they are flying. Other sensilla bend when the bee changes positions, so it remains aligned with gravity when it is building comb cells. Sensilla on a queen bee’s antennae help her determine the size of a comb cell, which determines if she lays a worker- or drone-destined egg. So, all those sensilla must remain dust and pollen-free to function properly, allowing bees to remain as busy as, well, bees.

Read at: https://baynature.org/articles/ask-the-naturalist-why-do-honeybees-clean-themselves/


UC Davis Newsletter: May/June 2015

Hello All, The UC Davis Newsletter: May/June 2015 is now available. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it! Elina

Please note the new link for the on-line Newsletter is

The Newsletter archive can be found here

Elina L. Niño, Ph.D.
Assistant Specialist in CE - Apiculture
Department of Entomology and Nematology
University of California, Davis

The UC Apiary Newsletter is Smokin!

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   February 27, 2015

If you're looking for the newsletter, from the UC apiaries, it has a new home. 

The new UC California Cooperative Extension apiculturist, Elina Lastro Niño, has moved it to her website now that EricMussen has retired. Mussen, now Extension apiculturist emeritus, wrote the newsletter from 1976 to 2014 and loaded it on his UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website. The editions are now archived.

The new home? It's on the elninobeelab website

It's available online for free, of course. The newsletter is published bimonthly: in February, April, June, August, October and December.  Niño relates: "If you wish to have this newsletter sent directly to your email address, please follow the instructions below.  Enter this URL into your browser: https://lists.ucdavis.edu/sympa/subscribe/ucdavisbeenews. When it opens, it should relate to subscribing to this newsletter.  Enter your email address and then click submit. It is time to decide whether to continue your hard copy subscription. The mailed subscription rate is now $25 per year (six issues). If you'd still like to continue this subscription please send a check by April 10, 2015 payable to the UC Regents and mailed to Elina L. Niño at the address in the signature block. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. If the check is not received you will not receive the next issue of the newsletter as a hard copy. This, of course, does not apply to those who have already prepaid for a certain time period."

In the newest edition, published today, you'll learn about how to treat those nasty Varroa mites, known far and wide (except in Australia, which doesn't have them) as beekeepers' Public Enemy No. 1.

Niño writes about HopGuard® II, "basically an 'old' product developed by BetaTec Hop Products, Inc., but it has an improved delivery system."

You'll also learn

  • what Niño said when she addressed the the Avocado Pollination Seminar series
  • that EPA is registering a new insecticide, flupyradifuron
  • about exciting upcoming events, including a bee symposium, open house, and queen-rearing workshops, and
  • some great information about how honey bees collect nectar.

How honey bees collect nectar is her Kids' Corner feature. "Usually after about three weeks of  life as a house bee, all healthy honey bees in a normal, healthy colony become foragers," she writes. "They start every morning by going out into the world looking for the best sources of sugary nectar and protein-rich pollen. Some of them even collect water. Now, I'm sure you've seen these friendly ladies just buzzing along visiting flowers in your back yard. By the way, just a reminder, forager bees will not attack unless they feel threatened so just make sure you don't bother them and you should be fine (and tell your friends too!). "

Niño goes on to explain the process, and points out, as Mussen emphasizes, that honey is "not actually bee vomit as it never goes through a digestion (breakdown) process in the digestive tract of a honey bee." (Mussen officially retired in June 2014 after 38-years of service, but he continues to maintain an office in Briggs Hall and assists wherever he can, including writing a few articles for the newsletter.)

Niño, who joined the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology on Sept. 1, 2014 from Pennsylvania State University—2600 miles away--is as busy as the proverbial worker bee.

 “California is a good place to bee,” she told us recently. “I just wish I could have brought some of that Pennsylvania rain with me to help out California's drought."

Niño operates her field lab at Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility on Bee Biology Road, west of the central campus, and at her lab in Briggs Hall, on the central campus. Her aims: to conduct practical, problem-solving research projects; to support the state's beekeepers through research, extension and outreach; and to address beekeeper and industry concerns.

 The mission of her program is "to provide support to California beekeepers and other relevant stakeholders through research, extension and outreach." Niño studies honey bee biology, health, reproduction, pollination biology, insect ecology, evolution, genomics and chemical ecology.

Check out her lab's website at http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/; and her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/elninolab. Her email is so easy to remember: elnino@ucdavis.edu.

UC Davis Newsletter 

UC Davis Department of Entomology Newsletter Nov/Dec 2014

Dear all, 

Here is the November/December 2014 issue of the UC Davis Apiculture Newsletter. We hope you enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed preparing it.   

Happy holidays,
Elina L. Niño, Ph.D.
Extension Apiculturist, Department of Entomology and Nematology,
University of California, Davis
Davis, CA 95616

URL: http://elninobeelab.ucdavis.edu/


A Gathering of Beekeepers: Follow That Buzz!

Bug Squad - Happenings in the Insect World    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   October 21, 2014

Follow that buzz! 

When the California State Beekeepers' Association, founded in 1889, meets Nov. 18-20 in Valencia for its 2014 convention, it will mark a milestone: 125 years of beekeeping. Not so coincidentally, the theme is "Celebrating 125 Years of California Beekeeping."

And to think that California's first honey bees are "fairly new" newcomers: they didn't arrive in the Golden State (San Jose area) until 1853.

The conference promises to be educational, informative, timely and fun. "We will hear about things going on in the world of beekeeping on the local, state, and national levels," said CSBA president Bill Lewis, who lives in the San Fernando Valley and maintains 650 colonies of bees (Bill's Bees) with his wife, Liane, and business partner, Clyde Steese.

Topics range from “Keeping Bees Safe in Almonds" and “Land Trusts Working with Beekeepers," to "Mead Making" and "Urban Beekeeping, Beginner to Advanced."

Among the hot topics: Entomologist Reed Johnson of The Ohio State University will speak on  “The Effects of Bee Safe Insecticide" on Wednesday, Nov. 19.

Biologist Thomas Seeley of Cornell University will speak on "Survivor Population of European Honey Bees Living Wild in New York State” at the research luncheon on Thursday, Nov. 20. He is also scheduled for two other talks, "Honeybee Democracy" (the title of one of his books) and "The Bee Hive as a Honey Factory," both on Nov. 20. In addition, speakers will address such topics as forage, land management, queen health, genetic diversity, and pests and diseases.

One of the featured presentations will be the richly illustrated documentary, "Almond Odyssey," a look at California's almond pollination season, the world's largest managed pollination event. The state's 900,000 acres of almonds draw beekeepers and their bees from all over the country.

The gathering of beekeepers will include multiple generations of family-owned commercial beekeeping operations, bee hobbyists, and those hoping to start their very first bee hive, Lewis says. They're there to learn the latest about beekeeping from world-renowned researchers and industry authorities. 

The University of California, Davis, is expected to be well represented. Amina Harris, director of theHoney and Pollination Center, UC Davis, will speak Wednesday, Nov. 19 on  “Honey Wheel” and “California Master Beekeeper." Extension apiculturist (retired) Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology serves as the organization's current apiculturist and parliamentarian (as well as a frequent speaker). He will introduce the new Extension apiculturist Elina Lastro Nino in a Nov. 20th presentation titled "California Extension Apiculturist--Passing the Torch." (For a complete list of sessions and speaker biographies and to register for the conferene,  access the CSBA website.) 
CSBA's mission is to support and promote commercial beekeepers and pollination services in California's agricultural farmlands. Each year funds raised at the CSBA convention go to research. Researchers attend the conference and provide updates. They are in "the front lines of the bee health battle," Lewis noted.  

The conference (as well as membership in CSBA) is open to all interested persons.



Read at


UC Davis Department of Entomology Newsletter for July/August 2014

from the U.C. Apiaries   By Dr. Eric Mussen    July/August 2014

With the permission of Dr. Eric Mussen, we have attached latest newsletter:"from the U.C. Apiaries," the U.C. Davis Department of Entomology July/August 2014 Apiary Newsletter.

"This is the last newsletter for which I will be solely responsible.  Our newly acquired Extension Apiculturist, Dr. Elina Nino, will decide shortly on how she will handle the newsletter business, but I will keep the list available for her use.  Unlike Dr. Malcolm Sanford, I am signing off.  So, Malcolm your “Apis” newsletter will outlast my nearly 39-year run.

I wish everyone the best of luck in all your beekeeping and bee-related endeavors in the future."  Eric.

(Note: For more on Dr. Eric Mussen and Dr. Enina Nino, see Kathy Keatley Garvey's September 5th blog:http://ucanr.edu/blogs/bugsquad/index.cfm)

Better Statistics for the Bees

Bug Squad - Happenings in the insect world    By Kathy Keatley Garvey   September 5, 2014

The bees. What about the bees? How are they doing?

Better, says retired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who today published the last edition of his newsletter, from the UC Apiaries. Last? "Or, it's the last edition I'm solely responsible for."

Mussen retired in June after 38 years of service. Now it's "Welcome, Elina Lastro," who joined the department this week. 

"The summary data from this spring's suvey on winter colony loss is available for review on beeinformed.org, the public's entry to information from the...

Read more...http://ucanr.edu/blogs/bugsquad/index.cfm

Keeping Bees

Bug Squad - Happenings in the insect world   By Kathy Keatley Garvey    August 19, 2014 

So you want to keep bees in your backyard...

When do you start? What should you do?

Newly retired Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, continues to field questions. He's kindly agreed to respond to beekeeping queries until the new Extension apiculturist, Elina Lastro Niño of...