Wednesday, April 16, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

UC Davis gets a gift to bee-hold

bee boxes2W

Some 270 employees of Valent U.S.A. Corp. engage in a bee-box building exercise. The boxes were given to the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis. John Markham/Courtesy photo

It was a gift meant to keep on giving.

No, it wasn’t a donor organ, a tree or a smile.

In this case, the gift was for generations of honeybees at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis.

During a pollinator education program, employees of Valent U.S.A. Corp., based in Walnut Creek, wanted to do something significant, something that would help the troubled bee population, and something that would promote team-building.

So more than 270 employees engaged in a beehive-building exercise, constructing 26 Langstroth beehives. They recently delivered them to the Laidlaw facility where bee breeder-geneticist Michael “Kim” Fondrk, Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen and staff research associate/Laidlaw manager Billy Synk, all of the UCD department of entomology and nematology, gratefully accepted them.

The gift is valued at $4,290. Said Mussen: “This is an incredible gift.”

“They did a good job,” said Fondrk, who provided workshop tips on how to build the bee boxes, using the right materials and specifications.

“We are thrilled to donate these hives to the Laidlaw facility,” said Meg Brodman, manager of marketing communications for Valent. “We recognize the incredible work being done by your organization and we thank you for your commitment to supporting the needs of America’s farmers through pollinator research, particularly in California, where we are also headquartered.

“Pollinator safety,” she said, “continues to be a focus within our organization, and we at Valent, along with our counterparts in crop protection, are keenly focused on efforts that will support education and research for pollinator safety in agriculture.”

The bee boxes will be used beginning in the spring of 2014, just in time for the seasonal population build-up. In the peak season, each hive will hold some 60,000 bees. Brian Johnson, assistant professor, keeps his research bees at the apiary; his lab studies the genetics, behavior, evolution and health of honeybees. Fondrk, who also keeps his bees in a nearby apiary, manages the research bees of Robert E. Page Jr., emeritus professor.

Johnson and associate professor Neal Williams, a pollination ecologist, are co-directors of the Laidlaw facility.

Brodman described Valent as a “growing crop protecting company, offering a diverse line of conventional and biorational products, including herbicides, insecticides, fungicide, seed protection and plant growth regulators that protect agricultural crops, enhance crop yields, improve food quality, beautify the environment and safeguard public health.”

As for the bees, a few buzzed down to investigate their new homes as the crew wheeled the boxes into the building.

Kathy Keatley Garvey

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