For The Love Of Bees

Bug Squad    BY Kathy Keatley Garvey     September 5, 2017

Sarah the Bee Girl stands in front of a cluster of first graders sitting by a six-foot worker bee sculpture in the UC Davis Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven.

Her name is Sarah Red-Laird, and she is here to present an interactive educational program involving bees and beekeeping, honey, beeswax and bee habitat to students from Peregrine School, Davis. It's part of her "Bees and Kids" program, funded by the American Beekeeping Federation's Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees.

She's speaking to them as part of the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, Sept. 5-8.

The students are super excited.

Holding up fruit after fruit, she asks if they like strawberries, apples, oranges and lemons, all bee-pollinated. They eagerly raise their hands. She tells them that bees are responsible for providing one-third of the food we eat, including fruits, vegetables and nuts (almonds). Our shopping carts would be sparse if there were no bees, she says. She quizzes them about grapes, rice and oats, which are not bee-pollinated.

Then she turns to honey.

"How much honey does a bee make in her lifetime?" she asks. "Is it 1 cup, 1 teaspoon or 1/12th of a teaspoon?  if you think it's one cup, raise your hand." Half a dozen hands shoot up.

"If you think it's one teaspoon, raise your hand." A few more raise their hands.

"If you think it's 1/12th of a teaspoon, raise your hand." One person responds.

"The correct answer," says Sarah the Bee Girl, "is 1/12th of a teaspoon. That's how much a honey bee makes in her lifetime."

"I guessed that!" yells a little girl.

"Did you?" Sarah asks, approvingly. "You're a smartie," she praises.

"We didn't," a boy laments.

A honey bee seeking drips from the bottled honey at the "Kids and Bees" honey-tasting event. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)Sarah drives home the point with: "That means that honey bees work really, really hard for the honey we eat. For me, I eat it every day."

Sarah continues. "How many flowers does it take the bees to make one pound of honey?" she asks, holding up a jar of honey.

The students respond with answers that range from 99 to 100 to 200 to 1000 to 2000 to 8000 to 1 billion.

"The correct answer is 2 million," she tells them. "it takes 2 million flowers to fill this one jar of honey."

Sarah drives home the point with: "The best thing to do to help bees is to plant flowers. Let's say it all together. what can you do to help bees?

"Plant flowers!" they chorus.

Later she reads a book and then asks them to answer questions about nurse bees, house bees, scout bees, guard bees, queen bees, foragers and drones. Each person who answers the question correctly is adorned with props depicting that bee.

The first graders love it! They gigle, laugh and cheer.

Next they move in small groups to the educational stations where they taste honey, learn about bee habitat and bees wax, and see honey bees and other bees up close.

It's obvious that Sarah loves bees and wants others to love them, too.

Sarah says her love of bees began in Southern Oregon, on the deck of her aunt's cabin, at the end of a country road. She received her degree, with honors, in resource conservation from the University of Montana and did research in Jerry Bromenshenk Honey Bee Lab. She presented her beekeeping findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research on "How to Keep 100,000 Girlfriends, the Careful Relationship of a Beekeeper and Her Honey Bees."

This first-grader got a good luck at a Valley carpenter bee, caught by Robbin Thorp in a special device and then released. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Today she's the program director of the American Beekeeping Federation's "Kids and Bees" Program and executive director of Bee Girl, a nonprofit organization: its mission is to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees, their flower and our food system.  She serves as the Oregon director of the Western Apicultural Society, a member of the New York Bee Sanctuary Advisory Board, and the regional representative to the Southern Oregon Beekeepers' Association. She is also a "Mountainsmith Brand Ambeesador."  See her work on FacebookInstagram and Twitter (@sarahBeeGirl). Her hashtag is #loveyourbees.

Among the UC Davis personnel assisting her at the haven were:

Robbin Thorp, distinguished emeritus professor of entomology,  UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who caught and released bees with a device that included a magnifying glass

Staff research associates Bernardo Niño of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., Honey Bee Research Facility/UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who staffed the beeswax table, where children drew pictures with crayons

Staff research associate and Charley Nye of the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr., Honey Bee Research Facility/UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, who staffed the  habitat table, where the children learned about where the bees live.

Zoe Anderson, a UC Davis undergraduate student majoring in animal biology, assisted with the honey tasting. The youths all agreed they liked Sarah's vetch honey the best.

First graders, school officials and parents from Peregrine School cluser around a bee sculpture at UC Davis Haagen-Dazs Honey Bee for a “Kids and Bees” program. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sarah the Bee Girl reads a book about bees. In back are WAS members Cyndi and Jim Smith of Donney Lake, Wash. Cyndi serves as the secretary. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Sarah the Bee Girl outfits a first grader with a forager costume for correctly answering a question about foragers. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) View more images: http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=25094

Show Me The Honey From Your Bees

Bug Squad    By Kathy Keatley Garvey     July 26, 2017

(There's still time to fill out the forms to enter your honey in the next Good Foods Awards competition; the deadline is Monday, July 31, 2017.)

A honey bee foraging on star thistle, Centaurea solstitialis. It’s an invasive weed but makes great honey, beekeepers and honey connoisseurs say. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) Imagine watching your honey bees gathering nectar from star thistle--which some beekeepers claim makes the best honey. (Yes, Centaurea solstitialis is an invasive weed. The love-hate relationship runs deep; farmers and environmentalists hate it; beekeepers love it.)

Then imagine you picking up one of the top prizes in the country for having the best honeycomb--made from star thistle honey.

That's what happened when Miss Bee Haven Honey of Brentwood, Calif., entered its honey in the national Good Foods Awards competition and won one of the top 2017 awards. Their bees, based in numerous locations, primarily forage in the San Francisco Bay Area and along the Delta.

Fast forward to today. There's still time to fill out the forms to enter your honey in the next Good Foods Awards competition; the deadline is Monday, July 31. Only the form--not the honey--is due July 31. The honey can be the August harvest, as the judging won't take place until Sept. 17 in San Francisco, said Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center, who coordinates the contest. She announced that awards will be given in four subcategories: Liquid and Naturally Crystallized, Creamed, Comb, and Infused Honey. 

Dates to keep in mind, in addition to the July 31 entry deadline (see entry information and the full criteria for honey) are Sept. 17 when the blind tasting takes place in San Francisco (entrants will be asked to ship their product a week in advance; and October 2017 (high scoring products undergo sustainability vetting) and November 2017 (when finalists are announced).

Harris says there are more than 300 unique types of honey in the United States. "The Good Food Awards," she said, "will showcase honeys most distinctive in clarity and depth of flavor, produced by beekeepers practicing good animal husbandry and social responsibility." 

Harris and master beekeeper/journalist Mea McNeil of San Anselmo are coordinating the honey committee, which also includes

Emily Brown, Owner, AZ Queen Bee

Mark Carlson, Beekeeping instructor and entomologist, Round Rock Honey Beekeeping School

Kim Flottum, editor,  Bee Culture Magazine

Marina Marchese, Founder, The American Honey Tasting Society and co-author The Honey Connoisseur

Terry Oxford, Owner, UrbanBee San Francisco 

The 2017 winners who took home the bragging rights:

Bee Girl, Bee Girl Honey, Oregon

Bee Local, Bee Local Sauvie Honey, Oregon

Bee Squared Apiaries, Rose Honey, Colorado

Bees' Needs, Fabulous Fall, New York

Bloom Honey Orange Blossom, California

Gold Star Honeybees, Gold Star Honey, Maine

Hani Honey Company, Raw Creamed Wildflower Honey, Florida

Mikolich Family Honey, Sage and Wild Buckwheat, California

MtnHoney, Comb Honey Chunk, Georgia

Posto Bello Apiaries, Honey, Maine

Sequim Bee Farm, Honey, Washington

Simmons Family Honey, Saw Palmetto Honey, Georgia

Two Million Blooms, Raw Honey, Illinois

UrbanBeeSF, Tree Blossom Honey Quince and Tree Blossom Honey, Napa, California

The Honey and Pollination Center is affiliated with the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science and the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. For more information contact Amina Harris at (530) 754-9301 or aharris@ucdavis.edu.

Honey comb being processed. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey) The colors of honey sparkle in the sunlight. This photo, taken in 2009, shows former UC Davis bee breeder-geneticist Susan Cobey (now of Washington State University) and her then assistant, Elizabeth Frost (now of New South Wales) at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility, UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

http://ucanr.edu/blogs/blogcore/postdetail.cfm?postnum=24761

Bee-Girl to LACBA: SO Much Love!

"SO much love going out to the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association for their donation to keep our programs going!! These folks know a thing or two about generosity and bee love!" Sarah Red-Laird, Executive Director, Bee-Girl Organization. 

(Note: It is through the efforts of members of the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association who volunteered their time at the Bee Booth at the Los Angeles County Fair to raise money in support of honey bees, bee research and education. Thank you also to the LACBA membership who voted to provide funding for the Bee-Girl programs. Read more about Bee-Girl Organization http://www.beegirl.org/.)

CSBA: Next Gen Beekeepers Breakout - Nov 18

Calling all beekeepers in their 20's and 30's! There's a Next Gen Beekeepers Breakout session at the California State Beekeepers Association Conference, and we want you there! Join us for free beer, some desert, live music, and an opportunity to connect with other young beekeepers.

A January 23rd article in the Wall Street Journal titled, “More Beekeepers Sour on Profession as Winter Die-Offs Continue,” is an all-too familiar sentiment moving through the beekeeping industry. To keep a colony thriving, recruitment must outnumber loss. With the average age of beekeepers nearing 70, and only 8% under the age of 40 (Bee Culture, 2007, Flottum), we are not headed for success. The Next Generation Beekeepers Initiative is aiming to amend this trend, by not just simply listing problems in the beekeeping industry, but identifying real solutions and pairing them with action.

The night will kick-off with beer, desert, and live music by beekeeper Ben Sallmann's jazz/funk band - then we'll get down to the nitty gritty. I'll share what the group came up with in Missoula and Boulder, then we'll spend time putting our present thoughts and experiences down, and come up with the building blocks of a "strategic" plan and a few action items for the coming year.

Your co-facilitators for the evening are next gen beekeepers, Sarah Red-Laird, Katie Lee, Elizabeth Frost, and Steve Marquette. See below for bios, and we hope to hoist a pint for bees and beekeepers with you in November at CSBA!

Join and share our Facebook event here.

LACBA Supports Bee Research through Donations

In 2014 the Los Angeles County Beekeepers Association supported the following organizations on behalf of bee research.  We should all be pleased that the hard work and long hours at the LA County Fair and other fundraising endeavors went to help in honey bee research, honey bee health, forage and pollination efforts. The LACBA also helped sponsor research participants for the 2014 CSBA Convention. Thank you all! And thank you to the bees!

Project Apis m.         

CSBA Research Fund

CSBA Right to Farm Fund    

Randy Oliver                       

Bee Girl                              

Pollinator Partnership           

Theodore Payne                  

ABF Honey Queen program 

Sarah Red-Laird (Bee Girl) Poses Questions to Beekeepers

Yesterday (Nov. 19) at the California State Beekeepers Association conference, as part of our Next Generation Beekeepers Initiative, I facilitated a panel regarding bridging the gap between "commercial" and "backyard" beekeepers. Now, I'd like to open the floor to you for comment. 

This is a three part question. Answer just one part, two, or all three.

1) What are the differences between the two groups, as well as the similarities? 

2) What DO we do presently to help each other in a POSITIVE way? 

3) What CAN we do in the future to help each other in a POSITIVE way? I'd love to hear specific action items. 

Thank you SO much for participating!!

CSBA Annual Convention - Sarah Red Laird, the Bee Girl

CSBA Annual Convention  http://www.californiastatebeekeepers.com/   November 18-20, 2014

Sara Red-Laird, the Bee Girl, transformed a childhood fascination with honeybees into an impassioned career as a research scientist, educator, conservationist and revered beekeeper. She brings her love of honey bees and joy of beekeeping to the CSBA Annual Convention with her "Educating the Educators" presentation, on the Panel: "Bridging the Gap Between the Beekeeping Industry & the Urban Beekeeper," and with her Special Movie Night screening: "We Can Save the Bees Together." 

Sarah Red-Laird is the founder and Executive Director of the Bee Girl organization with a mission to inspire and empower communities to conserve bees and their habitat. She brought her affinity for beekeeping to fruition at the University of Montana, Missoula. She chose honey bees and Colony Collapse Disorder as her Davidson Honors College research thesis. 

Sarah's affinity for Apis mellifera was apparent to Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk at the UM Honey Bee Lab, and he gladly put her to work in research. Sarah finished her time as a student at UM with a presentation on her CCD and beekeeping findings at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research titled, "How to Keep 100,000 Girlfriends, the Careful Relationship of a Beekeeper and Her Honey Bees." She graduated with honors, and as a University Scholar from UM's College of Forestry and Conservation with a degree in Resource Conservation, focused on community collaboration and environmental policy. 

Sarah is also the US Ambassador of the International Bee Research Association's (IBRA) BEEWORLD project, the Kids and Bees Director for the American Beekeeping Federation, a mentor in the Oregon State Master Beekeepers Program, Apiary Manager for Southern Oregon University's Center for Sustainability, the Oregon Outreach Coordinator for the Bee Friendly Farming Initiative, and is on the advisory board of the New York Bee Sanctuary. When she is not tirelessly working with bees, beekeepers, kids, farmers, land managers, and policy makers, Sarah heads for the hills with a camera, large backpack, fishing rod, bike or snowboard, and her best friend, Sophie the Yellow Lab.

http://www.beegirl.org/

Boston Researchers Train Bees to Detect Diabetes

CBS Boston   By Dr. Mallika Marshall, WBZ-TV    August 14, 2014 

BOSTON (CBS) – “Diabetes is reaching epidemic proportions, not only in the U.S. but worldwide,” says Dr. Allison Goldfine, a diabetes specialist at the Joslin Diabetes Center.

She is helping foreign graduate students Tobias Horstmann and Juliet Phillips with their research project.

They’re trying to use bees to sniff out diabetes.

Bees don’t have traditional noses, but through their antenna, they can smell 10 million times better than humans. The students have collected bees, placed them in cartridges and trained them to detect a chemical called acetone, found in higher concentrations in the breath of people with diabetes.

In collaboration with the Los Almos National Laboratory in New Mexico, they are using a device to house the bees and observe the bees’ reaction. If a patient breathes into the device and acetone is detected, the bees stick out their tongues in response.

Dr. Goldfine says the research has promising preliminary data.

The goal is to use this as a screening tool, especially in developing countries.

“The importance is the portability to be able to bring it easily to the people without having to do blood sticks or blood testing,” explains Dr. Goldfine.

Sustainability is an important factor.  By partnering with bee keepers, they could sell the bees’ wax and honey and use the bees to pollinate crops to help support the mission.

The students are hoping to use this research on bees to look for other diseases that can be detected on a person’s breath like tuberculosis and cancer.

“The long-term vision,” says Horstmann, “would be to have a device where not only bees are in there that can detect diabetes but also tuberculosis and cancer. So, with one blow of the patient, we could detect different diseases.”

“We hope that with our screening process,” says Phillips, “we’ll be able to get to these people earlier and relieve the burden, not only on them but the public health system.”

Read at and View: http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/08/14/boston-researchers-train-bees-to-detect-diabetes/

(Note from the Bee Girl: Boston grad students are up for a million dollar grant from the Clinton Foundation for disease detecting honey bees!! Bill Clinton's administration was the original supporter of the "the bomb sniffing bees" project through the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), which I eventually had the pleasure of working on with Prof. Bromenshenk at the University of Montana.)