Im going to be at the First National Beekeeping Conference next week, held at the Doubletree Hotel in Sacramento, California. Its going to be a very busy week (with lots of information, we hope, on the latest developments on Colony Collapse Disorder), so I thought Id give you a little background on this meeting ... its the first one like this ever held and there are a whole lot of people who thought it would never happen (or rather, thought it would only happen over their dead bodies).
Coming together at this meeting is absolutely, and I mean absolutely everybody who has anything to do with bees, beekeeping, honey, apitherapy, honey bee science, honey bee laws and regulations, growers of crops that need honey bee pollination, manufacturers and sellers of beekeeping equipment, books, supplies and related items, and of course regular beekeepers.
Starting off, theres a one-day symposium on using honey for health with a host of international speakers attending to tell the us (and you, if you want to attend) why honey is good for you (according to them I should live to be about 250-years-old for all the honey I eat); another group will be here to discuss the health benefits of all the hive products including honey ... pollen (eat it on your cereal in the morning), propolis (a resin than bees collect, then add their own enzymes to for antimicrobial benefits in the hive) and all the things people are finding out about this magical substance (skin salves, sore throat lozenges, wound dressings, and more), and other medical properties of honey (wound dressings primarily, but other benefits too).
Then theres all the scientists. All the scientists that deal with honey bees in the U.S., most from the U.S. but also Canada, Mexico and other countries will be there discussing their latest findings (this group is known as AAPA, The American Association Of Professional Apiculturists). This is very beneficial for me because its one of the very few time these people actually talk to regular beekeepers to tell them whats going on (otherwise you have to dig it out of some obscure journal published in England, or Slovenia), that is if you can find it or even know its been published. I get a lot out of these gatherings and so do the readers of our magazine (and of course this regular missive).
Part of this group, of course, will be discussing Colony Collapse Disorder and since these scientists dont write much for the popular press, and since Im one of the few who attend these meetings representing beekeepers I suspect readers here have already heard most of what is going to be said about that ... I hope theres something new since San Diego, but well see.
Attending too is the National Group representing the Regulators of all things honey bee in the U.S., The Apicultural Inspectors of America (AIA) group. These are the folks who are in charge of keeping things in order ... the regular movement of honey bees between states, the inspection of colonies for various pests and diseases. To a large degree they are the information transfer agents of knowledge and skills to many, many beekeepers, since they usually are on top of whats what in colony management and pest and disease control. Unfortunately, this group is probably the poorest funded group in our industry. Not unlike other regulatory agencies everywhere, the Federal, State and Local governments all have money and priority problems so protecting people (beekeepers and the public) is way down on the list of things to spend money on. (If you think bees and beekeeping arent necessarily in need of regulation think of African Honey Bees spreading all over the southern U.S., and where did Varroa mites, and then that Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus come from anyway, and are those Australian honey bees really as good as some say they are?). U.S. Honey Bee Inspection is critically under funded, understaffed, and under appreciated.
Also attending will be the group of people who buy honey from beekeepers and make it available, well, almost everywhere. They sell to the giants like General Mills; the unknowns who use honey in all manner of beads and other products; those who put honey in those little tiny packets you find in restaurants; and the giant, and not so giant retailers like Wal-Mart and your local Safeway or SuperValu. Of course some beekeepers sell their honey this way but most are good producers and arent as interested in the marketing side of the business ... and thats sometimes a real problem but thats a topic for another time. This group, called The National Association of Packers and Dealers Association, is also involved in importing honey from off shore ... China, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, Vietnam, India, Greece, Germany...if some country makes honey (and almost every country makes honey) it finds its way here through the hands of the NAPD.
Of course no event of this scale would be complete without a host of vendors ... those folks who make and sell equipment for beekeepers. All manner of everything new will be on display, plus all the regular stuff. Im going to try to make photos of all this available here next week so you can get a peek at a world almost nobody outside of just us beekeepers ever gets to see, so if youre interested stay tuned. Plus, if theres anything new going on well have it here also. This will be the first time something like this has been done (beekeepers tend to be a decade to two behind most media circles), so well see how well it works.
P.S. Ill have additional information available on and during this meeting on Catch The Buzz, a subscriber-only news page aimed strictly at beekeepers, but you can subscribe for free on our web page at www.BeeCulture.com by clicking on the Buzz link and signing up. Its free and we dont use your email for anything else ... you might enjoy it.
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