The Buzz Behind the Bee

Jul 31, 2017

What's the buzz behind the bee?

The Western Apicultural Society, headed by president Eric Mussen of UC Davis, Extension apiculturist emeritus, wanted a unique bee T-shirt design for its 40th anniversary conference, set Sept. 5-8 at UC Davis.

"We wanted a design depicting a honey bee riding a penny farthing or high wheel bicycle," Mussen said, noting that Davis has been described as the "Bicycle Capital of the United States" (due to the city's "high rate of bicycle use and its long history providing its thousands of pedalers with a cyclist-friendly environment"--David Takemoto-Weerts). 

"We wanted something cartoonish," added Mussen, who is serving his sixth term as president. WAS was founded at UC Davis by Norm Gary, Mussen and  Becky Westerdahl. Gary, now professor emeritus, UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology, spearheaded the founding.

Eric Mussen knows bees. He retired in 2014 after 38 years of service, culminating a career that drew national and international attention.

Mussen selected UC Davis graphic artist Steve Dana, a veteran artist who appreciates bees.

"Steve did an amazing job," Mussen said.

Dana, a 1987 graduate of California Polytechnic Institute (Cal Poly), has worked at UC Davis and the UC Davis Medical Center as a graphic designer and illustrator for more than 25 years. A lifelong resident of Dixon, he also has a freelance graphic design and illustration business that he's owned since 1990.

"I grew up on a farm just east of Dixon, and rode motorcycles and sketched cartoons whenever possible, always wishing that I could be as good as my older brother, Jim," Steve recalled.

Today Steve specializes in publication and logo design as well as cartoon and medical illustration--and has illustrated three children's books with author and fellow Dixon High School graduate, Karen Emigh.  Among his biggest fans are wife, Jodi, his wife of more than 26 years, and their two children, Eric and Kelsey.

Steve said his parents both enjoyed various forms of art from acrylic painting to metal sculpture and his nephew Sutton Betti is a professional sculptor in Colorado.

No stranger to bees, Steve created the popular logo for the Dixon May Fair's 2016 theme, "Buzzing with Excitement." He considers it "my favorite" of the seven posters he's generated for the fair.

Mussen predicts the WAS t-shirt also will become a favorite. And come Sept. 5, many of those attending the WAS conference will be wearing one.

Those wishing to purchase a t-shirt (attendance at the conference is not mandatory to purchase a t-shirt) can obtain more information on the WAS site at

WAS, a non-profit organization, represents mainly small-scale beekeepers in the western portion of North America, from Alaska and the Yukon to California and Arizona.  Beekeepers across North America will gather to hear the latest in science and technology pertaining to their industry and how to keep their bees healthy.

The conference is open to all interested persons. Among the speakers is Kim Flottum, editor of Bee CultureSee schedule of speakers and register here. Those who pre-register by July 31 receive a $50 discount, Mussen said.