Yes, you heard that right. Cactus honey.
The plant may present a prickly situation to us, but not to the bees.
In addition to cactus honey, honey bee guru Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology, will share five other varieties: California buckwheat, avocado, Eucalyptus, sage and orange.
Visitors can taste the honey from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Briggs Hall courtyard. Some 25,000 toothpicks will be provided. The honey? It's from Bennett’s Honey Farm in Ventura County.
Mussen has been staffing the honey-tasting table every year at the UC Davis Picnic Day since 1980. This year, due to popular demand, the department will add another table.
Mussen, with the UC Davis Department of Entomology since 1976, also will answer questions about honey and honey bees.
The event, free and open to the public, is part of the entomological activities that will take place at two locations: Briggs Hall, off Kleiber Hall Drive, and the Bohart Museum of Entomology, 1124 Academic Surge on California Drive.
The scores of activities at Briggs Hall will include Maggot Art, cockroach races and termite trails. At the Bohart Museum, home of more than seven million specimens, visitors can check out not only the pinned specimens but the live “petting zoo,” which includes Madagascar hissing cockroaches and walking sticks. In keeping with the museum theme, “Insects Are Forever”--and that insects can be a girl's best friend--the Bohart officials will post photos of women entomologists.
Indeed! You'll see professors, researchers and graduate students.
More information is on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website.
If you head over to the California State Fair, which opened July 14 and continues through July 31, be sure to check out the Insect Pavilion at "The Farm."
It's a treasure house of not only insects, but spiders and assorted other critters.
At the entrance, tuck your head inside the monarch butterfly cutout and have someone take your photo. You can be "Butterfly for the Day."
Then it's off to see the "live" monarchs, a few steps away. The contrast between the painted cutout and the real insects is startling. Nature does a much better job!
Other highlights at the Insect Pavilion include honey bees, wasps and spiders.
The site probably should be called "The Bug Pavilion" because some of the critters, such as spiders, aren't insects.
Beekeeper Brian Fishback of Wilton, a member of the California State Beekeepers' Association and a volunteer at the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility at UC Davis, provided the bee observation hive.
Parents exclaim to their children: "Look! Bees!"
Then they usually point out that bees make honey and "No, honey, they can't sting you; they're behind glass."
It shouldn't be about stinging. It should be about their pollination services, not their defensive mechanism. Bees pollinate one-third of the food we eat.
However, a walk through the nearby vegetable garden buzzes home the point that honey bees are invaluable.
Next Tuesday, July 26, the Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis will display live insects and specimens at The Big Bugs attraction at the state fair, according to Tabatha Yang, the Bohart's education and outreach coordinator. The specimens will be in the "oh, my" drawers--so called, she says, because that's what folks say when they see them: "Oh, my!"
Brian Turner, outreach coordinator at the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, is used to walking around with a walking stick.
Not just any walking stick. The Giant New Guinea Walking Stick and the Vietnamese Walking Stick.
Although the Bohart Museum houses more than seven million insect specimens, some are quite alive, thank you. They include the walking sticks, Madagascar hissing cockroaches, giant cave cockroaches, black widow spiders, and the rose hair tarantulas.
All are taking a brief "vacation" from the Bohart and are now housed in the floriculture building at the 134th annual Dixon May Fair, being held May 7-10.
When Turner delivered them to the fair Wednesday afternoon, the insects drew excitement from exhibitors setting up floral displays. They marveled at the size of the spiny Giant New Guinea Walking Stick (Eurycantha calcarate), which can reach 6 inches in length.
The male has large spikes on its back femurs. The female has what looks like a large stinger, but it really is an ovipositer (egg-laying structure).
These insects dine on bramble, rose and guava.
They do not dine on fairgoers.