University of California officials wasted little time finding a replacement for retiring apiculturist Eric Mussen, whose official last day on the job was June 30. Mussen was the university’s apiculturist for 38 years.
Honey bee scientist Elina Lastro Niño succeeds Mussen effective in September.
Elina Lastro Niño comes from Pennsylvania State University (PSU), University Park, and is internationally known for her work on the biology of queen honey bees, genomics, and chemical ecology.
She will work in UC's Department of Entomology and Nematology.
“We are excited about Elina joining the bee biology program at UC Davis,” said Michael Parrella, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology.
According to Parrella, Niño will work with professors Neal Williams and Brian Johnson on a host of issues related to honey bees and crops which require pollination.
As the Extension apiculturist, Niño will remain involved in basic honey bee biology studies. Much of her assignment will include conducting practical, problem-solving research projects, interacting with beekeepers, and industry concerns.
Mussen to help
Mussen has agreed to work with the university and serve as an advisor to Niño to help her assimilate into California’s agricultural systems and the challenges impacting honey bees in the Golden State.
Niño is excited to start working closely with the California beekeepers and growers to develop sustainable approaches to bee management.
The UC Davis bee lab has such a long, outstanding history,” she said.
Niño currently works with professor Christina Grozinger, director of the PSU Center for Pollinator Research. She holds a postdoctoral fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
With the growing popularity of backyard beekeeping in California, Niño will also be active in this acrea.
Niño received her Bachelor’s degree in animal science from Cornell University in 2003; a Master’s degree in entomology at North Carolina State University (NCSU); and a doctoral degree from PSU in 2012.
Her work duties will include darkling beetle control in poultry houses, pan-trapped horse flies, and surveyed mosquitoes in New York state.
While working toward her NCSU M.S. degree, she studied dung beetle nutrient cycling and its effect on grass growth, the effects of methoprene (insect grown regular) on dung beetles in field and laboratory settings, and assisted in a workshop on forensic entomology.