Honey bee expert Eric Mussen, Extension Apiculturist with the Department of Entomology, University of California, Davis, has received a honey of a national honor for his bee industry leadership and research publications: the American Association of Professional Apiculturists’ Award for Apicultural Excellence.

Mussen received the coveted award, presented only four times over the last two decades, at the AAPA's January conference in Phoenix. He earlier received the California State Beekeepers' Association's "2006 Beekeeper of the Year" award for his regional, state and national contributions to the beekeeping industry.

AAPA is comprised of university and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) honey bee researchers, extension apiculturists and state apiarists.

Nominating Mussen for the award were fellow apiculturists Marion Ellis, University of Nebraska; Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota; Jeff Pettis, USDA Agriculture Research Service, Beltsville, Md.; and John Skinner, University of Tennessee. They praised him for his "excellent apiculture leadership in a state that leads the nation in acres of insect-pollinated crops. He has published a diverse array of extension publications, and his bi-monthly newsletter is a widely read source of information."

"He has assisted many of his colleagues in obtaining funding to conduct apiculture research in California, and he has facilitated their work by helping establish collaborative relationships with beekeepers and growers," they wrote. "When issues arise with bees and pollination, Eric is one that everyone turns to for insight. His leadership and service to professional organizations has been exemplary, and he has held a leadership position in AAPA since its inception."

"Eric has been a tireless advocate of the beekeeping industry nationwide," the nominees said. He has managed to remain neutral yet informative and helpful on many 'hot' topics in beekeeping politics over the years. Eric is an excellent example of the ideal extension specialist. His extension activities are exemplary and a source of inspiration to all of us. His knowledge of apiculture is superb and he communicates information to a challenging clientele with professional ease and sincerity of purpose."

Mussen is known for his expertise on honey bees and Africanized honey bees, including colony management, pollination, mite control and insecticide damage. His research interests focus on managing honey bees and wild bees for maximum field production, while minimizing pesticide damage to pollinator populations.

A member of the UC Davis faculty since 1976, Mussen received his bachelor's degree in entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his master's and doctorate degrees in entomology from the University of Minnesota.

Mussen touts the importance of bees in pollinating crops, besides producing honey. "If for some reason we were to lose all of our honey bees, California would be out about $6.1 billion worth of crops," he said. "The nation would be out about $14 billion worth of crops and your diet and my diet would change significantly because about a third of the food we consume everyday is the product of honeybee pollination."