“I am basically all pro-bee. Whatever I can do for bees, I do it.”

So says Cooperative Extension apiculturist Eric Mussen of the University of California, Davis in a two-part cover story in the American Bee Journal (ABJ).

Mussen, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1976, definitely knows his bees, said author and master beekeeper M.E.A. (“Mea”) McNeil of San Anselmo.

McNeil describes Mussen by what he does: “lecturing to bee clubs and university classes, doing media interviews, writing and editing science articles, participating in hands-on studies, organizing conferences, submitting pesticide label recommendations, writing a newsletter and responding to questions from the public and professionals.”

Mussen, who received his bachelor’s degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts, and his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Minnesota, credits his grandfather with sparking his interest in insects, McNeil recounts. His grandfather, a self-taught naturalist, would take his young grandson to the woods to point out flora and fauna.

As a child, “my only concern was what if, by the time I went to college and became an entomologist, everything we wanted to know about insects was known,” Mussen told McNeil.

When he enrolled in graduate school, the only research opening was in the Basil Furgala lab. Furgala, who researched bee viruses, took him to the apiary, “grabbed a bee" and let it sting him to make sure he would work there,” McNeil wrote.

Mussen’s passion for bees is well expressed in the ABJ article. “It doesn’t matter whether there is one hive in the backyard or 15,000 colonies,” Mussen told her. “Bees are bees and the bees’ needs are the bees’ needs.”

Of the ABJ feature, Mussen said Sept. 23: “I am honored to have been selected by Mea as someone worthy of being featured in a national publication. It always is pleasant to receive a pat on the back.”

ABJ, established in 1861 by Samuel Wagner, has been published continuously since that time, except for a brief period during the Civil War. It is now published by Dadant and Sons and ranks as the oldest English language beekeeping publication in the world. It draws its readership from hobby and commercial beekeepers, bee supply dealers, queen breeders, package-bee shippers, honey packers, and entomologists.