This past Saturday, entomologists and honey enthusiasts alike came together to celebrate the debut of the Robert Mondavi Institute’s (RMI) Honey and Pollination Center at the “Bounty of Pollination: More Than Just Honey” event.
Saturday’s event featured guest speakers, including award-winning cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg who directed and produced The Beauty of Pollination, as well as various demonstrations from the Davis Co-Op and Whole Foods. In addition, guests enjoyed honey tastings.
The independent center was approved earlier this year by the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and aims to promote the use of high-quality honey in the market, to help ensure the sustainability of honey production and to showcase the importance of honey and pollination in California.
The center is funded primarily through donations and grants, with initial seed funding from Whole Foods, CAES, the Department of Entomology, the Office of Research and Z Specialty Food in Woodland.
The center differs from the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility in the Department of Entomology, which is a state-supported facility that focuses on honey bee breeding, genetics and native bee biology.
“The Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility’s focus is honey bees, bee biology, health and related areas,” said Amina Harris, executive director of the Honey and Pollination Center. “Our focus is a bit broader. We bring together beekeepers, researchers, agriculture and the consumer.”
Still, the two entities are closely aligned.
“[The vision is to] make UC Davis the nation’s leading authority on honey, honey bees and pollination by combining the resources and expertise of RMI and the Laidlaw Honey Bee Research Facility,” RMI Executive Director Clare Hasler-Lewis said in a press release.
Harris believes that the center will have an impact on several levels.
“We seek to help build a healthy, sustainable population of beehives to support a vigorous, high-quality honey industry in California,” Harris said. “We plan to be proactive in the development of improved labeling — there are few standards in place to define varietal honeys.”
In addition, the center hopes to facilitate and support ongoing research of the health effects of honey, royal jelly, pollen and propolis through writing grants since little is known about the health benefits.
“The center should serve as a central clearinghouse for inquiries from anyone about honey bees, honey, native bees and bees used in commercial crop pollination,” said Eric Mussen, the extension apiculturist in Agriculture and Natural Resources under the vice president of agriculture, located in Oakland.
For more information on the Honey and Pollination Center visit rmi.ucdavis.edu/centers/honey.
STEPHANIE B. NGUYEN can be reached at email@example.com.