By nearly any measure one can think of, the 2010 MSBA annual meeting held on March 27th was a great success. Good food, lots of beekeepers and “wanna bees,” and impressive speakers made for a day that any beekeeper could thoroughly enjoy.
As always, the crew at the Calumet Club provided great food and friendly service. This was no easy task, given the near- capacity crowd of 272 people at the meeting.
At the heart of the meeting were our great speakers. Jennifer Berry from the University of Georgia bee lab presented two great talks focusing on pesticide toxicity, the sub-lethal effects of these pesticides on honey bees, and options for chemical-free management of honey bee colonies. She discussed her findings from her research regarding the presence of many of the harshest and most widely used miticides in the wax comb of colonies arguably managed as “chemical free.” Continuing research will hopefully answer the question definitively as to from where these chemicals come. She suggested that beekeepers need to be keenly aware of the source of their foundation wax, as they may unintentionally introduce undesirable chemicals into their colonies. One of the inferences from Jennifer’s work is that any miticide affects the health of bees in general, making them more susceptible to disease.
Jennifer continued in the afternoon, discussing chemical-free approaches to managing honey bee colonies. One of her more impor- tant points regarding this approach: when beekeepers use powdered sugar to control mites, timing is everything. Since powdered sugar assists in mite removal from adult bees only, it is most effective when brood level is low (early spring and late fall). Jennifer very quickly noted that many research projects have all shown that small cell foundation does not significantly impact mite levels in honey bee colonies.
Our other speaker for the day was Cindy Bee, master beekeeper, and in particular, swarm collector. Cindy’s first talk provided insight into rendering wax and capturing swarms. She noted that when attracting swarms, a (temporary) frame of the old “stinky black” wax* in the bait box will really attract swarms. She also suggested that bait hives be at least 10 feet off the ground, as feral bees usually will not inhabit a place in the wild that is lower than that.
Cindy’s second talk shared some of her techniques for removing honey bee colonies from buildings. Cindy provided lots of incredible pictures of where she has found and removed colonies of honey bees, at the request of the building owners. She reminded attendees of the meeting that every single bee and row of comb must be removed to ensure the job is completed. She also noted that once a building cavity where honey bees have inhabited has been cleaned out, she fills the cavity with fiberglass insulation to make sure it is not re-inhabited. She stated that bee removal is a true service to society, and that beekeepers need to be paid for that service. Cindy travels around with her vehicle stuffed with bee removal equipment, and everywhere she stops, a crowd gathers to watch her work.
All in all, the 2010 MSBA annual meeting was a great day of beekeeping discussion. Now is the time for all of us who attended to take those little tidbits of knowledge we gathered, and put them into practice in our own apiaries.
* Only if you know it to be free of American Foul Brood.
2010 Augusta Program
Le Club Calumet: 334 Northern Avenue Augusta Maine 04330
Note: Some GPS units and Goolge Maps the address is: 334 West River Road, Augusta
8:00 – 9:00 — Registration and Coffee
9:00 – 9:15 –Welcome –Roy Cronkhite, President, MSBA
9:15 – 10:15 — Jennifer Berry, Comb Contamination Research, UGa Bee Lab
10:15 – 10:30 — Break
10:30 – 11:30 — Cindy Bee, Removing Bees from Buildings, Master Beekeeper
11:30 – 12:15 — Business Meeting (Annual Report, election of officers, MSBA awards)
12:15 – 1:00 — Lunch
1:00 – 1:15 — SARE Farmer Grant Update, Erin Forbes and Larry Peiffer
1:15 – 2:15 — Cindy Bee Talk #2
2:15 – 2:30 — Break
2:30 – 3:30 — Jennifer Berry, Talk #2
3:30 – 4:30 — Raffle and Door Prizes