Eric Mussen, 1944-2022
It was a honey of a journey.
My inaugural Bug Squad weblog, written Aug. 6, 2008, handled a swarm of bees that “hitched” a journey from El Cerrito to UC Davis on a commuter van on Aug. 1.
“At 7 a.m., a bunch of UC Davis staff approached their commuter van in an El Cerrito car parking zone. However, after glancing on the passenger aspect, they weren’t in any respect positive they needed to board. An enormous swarm of bees bearded the complete passenger aspect of the car and a part of the windshield. Hundreds of bees. Did I say 1000’s of bees? Hundreds of bees.”
“What to do? Figuring out about colony collapse dysfunction and the declining bee inhabitants, they did not need to damage them. In order that they climbed within the van by way of the motive force’s aspect and circled the block, hoping the bees would disperse. They did not.”
“In an un-bee-lievable sight, the white van, accompanied by the bees and their queen, buzzed to the UC campus on a 60-mile freeway journey. When the car pulled into the Shields car parking zone shortly earlier than 8 a.m., so did an extended line of bees hanging across the door body.”
“We misplaced most of them alongside the best way,” vanpool driver Keir Reavie, head of the Organic and Agriculture Sciences Division at Shields Library, advised us.
How did the survivors survive?
That was the query.
Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen, primarily based within the UC Davis Division of Entomology (it is now the Division of Entomology and Nematology) defined that “some bees will need to have slipped contained in the door body and held on to the others by linking legs. The queen bee was most likely contained in the crack.”
Mussen really helpful that the commuters go away them alone or contact a beekeeper on campus or in El Cerrito to hoover off the swarm. “The bees in a swarm normally will not hassle you until they’re considerably disturbed,” he mentioned.
In the meantime, the social bugs spent the day on campus, periodically leaving the van for meals and water, whereas others—the scouts—searched campus buildings for a brand new dwelling. Some bees parked on the “Van Pool Parking Solely” signal and the motorbike allow parking signal. A spider took the chance to snack on a bee snared in its internet.
So many reminiscences.
And so many reminiscences of the unbelievable Eric Mussen, who died June 3 at age 78 after being identified of liver most cancers on Could 31. We’re all grieving and heartbroken over the great lack of our buddy, colleague and fellow human being who beloved bees and delighted in sharing details about them.
Mussen, who served because the state’s Extension apiculturist for 38 years, joined our Division of Entomology in 1976, and retired in 2014. However he by no means actually retired. He saved busy throughout his retirement years along with his varied tasks, together with serving because the 2017 president of the Western Apicultural Society for the fortieth anniversary convention at UC Davis.
He gained state, nationwide and worldwide stature for his experience on bees and his expertise as a science communicator. You might have heard him on Nationwide Public Radio (Science Friday) or on BBC or examine him within the nation’s high newspapers. (Learn the tributes from colleagues, fellow scientists, bee breeders and beekeepers on the Division of Entomology and Nematology web site.)
For almost 4 a long time, Eric drew reward as “the honey bee guru,” “the heart beat of the bee business” and as “the go-to individual” when shoppers, scientists, researchers, college students, and the information media sought solutions about honey bees.
“Eric’s passing is a large loss,” mentioned longtime colleague Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology and a UC Davis distinguished professor of entomology. “He was all the time the go-to individual for all issues honey bee. He labored fortunately with hobbyists, business beekeepers and anybody simply usually .”
Eric was, certainly, the “go-to” individual for all issues honey bee.
“I used to be such a fan of Eric and he was an educator of every thing honey bees and an all-around nice man,” Christine Souza, assistant editor of Ag Alert, advised us this morning. “For a few years he was an incredible supply for me for Ag Alert. Nobody had the data or charisma that he needed to speak about entomology and make the typical individual on the market hearken to scientific info. He was nice at it and made me need to study extra about bees each time I had the good alternative to speak to him. I really feel very blessed to have met him and interviewed him.”
We have been all blessed. It was a honey of a journey and a whale of a legacy.