Central Valley Gold

In the heart of California's fruit- and nut-growing region, Fresno State is training the next generation of honeybee stewards. 

 

“Bees are hugely important in our state in terms of agriculture and our economy. If you look at the crops we produce in the Central Valley, we’ve got almonds, stone fruit, apples, pears—all of those crops basically need bees. So we’re talking billions of dollars of revenue.”

—Dr. Jacob Wenger, assistant professor of entomology, Fresno State

When entomology professor Jacob Wenger, Ph.D., introduced a new bee biology and apiculture course at Fresno State in the spring 2019 semester, the class took no time at all to fill up. Nearly all of his students major in plant sciences and will go on to be farmers, ranchers, researchers and pest control advisors. “Most,” he explains, “will work with some fruit that requires bees—almonds, stone fruit, blueberries, melons—so understanding bee biology is important.”

The health of bees is intrinsically linked to that of agriculture, so after taking his course Dr. Wenger wants his students to be able to keep their own hives and follow best practices for handling bees that show up on their orchards.

Throughout the semester, his students connect with industry players, including bee brokers (those who act as the agent between a beekeeper and a grower seeking help with crop pollination) and beekeepers and gain hands-on beekeeping experience by building one or two new hives—the campus’s first bee colony in some time.

Watch a video about Fresno State's beekeeping and biology class to learn more.


Queen (and Kings) of the Hive

When these five Fresno State students graduate, you can be sure they won’t simply be worker drones.


THE BUZZ AROUND THE CSU


 
Honey Boards with bees

BEE-ING NUMBER ONE

Since spring 2018, CSU Channel Islands has offered an apiculture and bee biology course with about 15 on-campus hives. CSUCI is the first four-year college in California to be named a Bee Campus USA by the Xerces Society.

LEARN ABOUT CSUCI
 
Beekeeper holding Honey Board

INSIDE THE BELLY OF THE BEE

At CSUN, microbial ecologist and genomicist Rachel Mackelprang, Ph.D., is teaching a bee biology class that studies the insects’ gut microbiome to learn about bee health.

LEARN ABOUT CSUN
 
Close up of a bee

WATCH OUT FOR ZOM-BEES

San Francisco State biology professor John Hafernik, Ph.D., discovered a phenomenon that turns bees into “zombies” when they’re infected by a fly parasite.

LEARN ABOUT SFSU
 

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