- Mussen’s passion for bees is well expressed: “It doesn’t matter whether there is one hive in the backyard or 15,000 colonies. Bees are bees and the bees’ needs are the bees’ needs.”
Beekeeper of the Year
Mussen, considered by his peers as one of the most respected and influential professional apiculturists in the nation, was named the California Beekeeper of the Year in 2006, won the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award of Excellence in Extension Apiculture in 2007, and in 2008 he received the Distinguished Achievement Award in Extension from the Pacific Branch of the Entomological Society of America. He received the statewide Pedro Ilic Outstanding Agricultural Educator Award in 2010.
Mussen educates the beekeeping industry and general public with his bimonthly newsletter, from the UC Apiaries, which he launched in 1976. Since 1976, he has also written Bee Briefs, addressing such issues as diseases, pesticides and swarms. Both publications are on the UC Davis Department of Entomology Web site.
“Eric is a worldwide authority on honey bees, but no problem is too small and no question too involved for him to answer,” said Extension specialist Larry Godfrey of the UC Davis Department of Entomology, who nominated Mussen for the Pedro Illic award. “He devotes his research and extension activities to the improvement of honey bee health and honey bee colony management practices. Eric helps growers, consumers, UC Farm Advisors, agricultural commissioners, scientists, beekeepers, researchers, pesticide regulators, 4-H’ers, and state and national agricultural and apicultural organizations. He ignites their interest in maintaining the health of bees, cultivates their friendship, and generously gives of his time and intellect.”
With the decline of the honey bee population and the increase of the mysterious colony collapse disorder, his expertise is now more highly sought than ever,” Godfrey pointed out. “Any threat to honey bees is a threat to agriculture and a cause for his concern and a desire to assist. He is the only Extension Apiculturist in the UC system and in many regards, functions as the Extension entomologist for apiculture in the western U.S. and indeed, much of the country.”
Mussen is a five-time president of the Western Apicultural Society, an organization he helped found in 1977. He's delivered the keynote addresses at the California State Beekeepers’ Association (CSBA) and at the American Honey Producers’ Association conventions. In addition, he provides leadership roles in the CSBA, the California Bee Breeders’ Association, California Farm Bureau Federation, American Honey Producers’ Association, National Honey Board, American Beekeeping Federation, American Association of Professional Apiculturists, and the Northern California Entomology Society, among others.
Mussen periodically speaks to some 20 beekeeping organizations a year, taking time from his busy schedule (often on the weekends and evenings) to travel to all parts of California and beyond. Mussen also mans the honey-tasting table at the annual UC Davis Picnic Day, where he encourages patrons to sample honey and ask questions. He displayed an observation hive at the 2008, 2009 and 2011 Dixon May Fair, where he answered questions from fairgoers.