The average watermelon flower needs 1,000 pollen grains per day to produce a single fruit, and this important work falls to bees. In fact, one in three bites of food is made possible by bees. Bees are so necessary to our food system, in fact, that wild bees contribute $2.4 billion per year in economic value to California agriculture, while domestic honeybees alone are responsible for California’s $3.8 billion almond crop.
Yet, bee colonies are declining rapidly. Across the nation, including California, bees are being lost at an average rate of 30 percent of hives per year. According to Mojgan Fischer, backyard beekeeper and member of Sacramento Area Beekeepers Association (SABA), bee education and activism are needed to improve the current bee crisis.
On Wednesday, July 31 at 6 p.m. at the Urban Hive, 1931 H Street, a panel of local bee experts will convene to discuss the current state of bee affairs and to help educate the public about bees. Discussion will touch on the rise of bee deaths, the role of native bees in a healthy agricultural system and what’s being done locally to improve urban agricultural ordinances.
The honey-themed evening includes exclusive pre-release tastings of New Helvetia’s honey beer, brewed with local Lienert’s honey; honey tacos courtesy of Tequila Museu Mayuel’s new taco cart; honey kombucha provided by Kombucha Kulture; and honey tastings provided by Lienert’s Honey.
As the state’s Farm-to-Fork Capital, the Sacramento region is home to world-renowned bee experts and activists who devote their lives to understanding the unique relationship between bees and our agricultural system, whether it’s caring for a hive of bees in one’s backyard garden or traveling the country to consult on the science of bees.
Panelists for the July 31 event include Dr. Eric Mussen, UC Davis Extension apiculturist whose research includes studying commercial pollination and crop-specific bee colony health. Mussen works with beekeepers around the country and publishes a bi-monthly bee newsletter. Mussen played an integral role in shaping the area’s most renowned bee-friendly ordinance in Elk Grove, an ordinance SABA would like to see replicated across the region.
Mike Somers is state director of Pesticide Watch. The nonprofit’s mission is to work side-by-side with Californians to prevent pesticide exposure, promote local farming and build healthier communities. Somers believes citizens should be taking action “to protect our most important piece of the food system, the pollinators.”
Mojgan Fischer is a backyard beekeeper of five years and an urban gardener. As a certified master gardener, Fischer uses natural methods to maintain a healthy bee colony. She’s also a member of the SABA, chairing their ordinance committee to encourage bee-friendly city and county ordinances, like the one Mussen helped shape in Elk Grove.
Serge Labesque keeps bees in Sonoma County and teaches beekeeping throughout Northern California. His natural techniques rely on the strength of local bee strains without using any treatments for pest and disease control. He was recipient of the Western Apicultural Society 2006 Thurber Award for Inventiveness, an award given to a beekeeper that has “demonstrated abnormal creativity in inventing beekeeping devices or practices,” according to the organization’s website.
Julie Serences serves as a volunteer for pollinator conservation for The Xerces Society, a nonprofit that protects wildlife through the conservation of invertebrates and their habitat, and is celebrated by naturalists for their work to protect native bees. For eight years, Serences has been working to restore wildlife habitat in her own backyard, and educates the public in workshops throughout the Sacramento area.
Tickets for the bee panel and honey event are available online for $15. Proceeds from the ticket sales will benefit SABA’s bee education work.
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