A Tip of the Bee Veil to the California Master Beekeeper Program

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a colony of honey bees to show us how to divide the labor and work well together.

And if you're part of the UC Davis-based California Master Beekeeper Program  (CAMBP), it takes a lot of worker bees from all facets to succeed.

We congratulate CAMBP for its well-deserved recognition at the recent UC Davis Staff Assembly's Citation of Excellence ceremony. 

CAMBP director and founder Elina Lastro Niño, associate professor of Cooperative Extension and a member of UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, and co-program manager Wendy Mather won a Faculty-Staff Partnership Award.

Niño, UC Extension apiculturist since 2014, founded CAMBP in 2016. Mather joined the program in March of 2018. Also integral to the program is Kian Nikzad, but as a newer employee, was ineligible to be nominated. 

The awards ceremony, held Sept. 12 in the International Center on campus, singled out “some of our most exceptional UC Davis individuals and teams,” Chancellor May said in his presentation.  

Nikzad accepted the award on behalf of Niño, who was participating in Apimondia in Santiago, Chile, conferring with colleagues at the UC Davis Chile Life Sciences Innovation Center, a part of UC Davis Global Affairs. She was assisting them in developing a sustainable and environmentally friendly science-based beekeeping program to support the success of farmers and beekeepers at all economic levels. 

Nominators of "The Bee Team" (Kathy Keatley Garvey, Nora Orozco and Tabatha Yang of Department of Entomology and Nematology) lauded Niño and Mather for providing a “program of learning, teaching, research, and public service, goes above and beyond in delivering comprehensive, science-based information about honey bees and honey bee health. They continually and consistently develop, improve, and refine their statewide curriculum that educates stewards in a train-the-trainer program to disseminate accurate, timely, and crucial information. Honey bees pollinate more than 30 California crops, including almonds, a $5 billion industry (no bees, no pollination, no almonds).  Indeed, California produces more than a third of our country's vegetables and three-quarters of our fruits and nuts. However, colony losses are alarming due to pesticides, pests, predators and pathogens.” 

As of Sept. 15, 2023, CAMBP has donated 34,000 hours of volunteer time and served 209,000 individuals in education, outreach and beekeeping mentorship.  If a volunteer hour were to be calculated at $26.87, CAMBP has given $913,580 back to California in service of science-based beekeeping and honey bee health.   

California Master Beekeeper Program logo
CAMBP has enrolled 353 Honey Bee Ambassadors (a level established in 2021), 567 Apprentice, 105 Journey level candidates and certified 20 Master level beekeepers. Of the participants, 75 are current or former UC Davis employees or alumni. Since 2020, the number of hours recorded in Continuing Education Experiences totals 4358. 

Its website, accessible to the public, offers a list of classes and knowledge-based information, including backyard beekeeping, bees in the neighborhood, bees and beekeeping regulations, defensive bees, live honey bee removals, and protecting pollinators.

“Bottom line,” the nominators concluded, “our ‘B' Team is really an ‘A' Team, an outstanding example of UC Davis teaching, research and service; a team providing exemplary service and contributions; and a team that creates and maintains high morale and embodies the Principles of Community.” 

Joint Statement. In a joint statement following the awards ceremony, Mather and Nikzad said: “We share this award with our passionate and caring member volunteers. Our members are deeply committed to honey bee health, science-based beekeeping practices, and, most importantly, to each other. Their enthusiasm and dedication drive our mission forward. We wish to acknowledge Elina Niño for her visionary leadership; she has brought together various stakeholders, including growers, bee breeders, commercial, sideline, and hobbyist beekeepers, as well as the general public, through CAMBP, UC Davis, UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) and UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE). We missed having her at the ceremony.” 

Well deserved! A tip of the bee veil to CAMBP! You're smokin' 

(See full-length news story and more images on the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology website)