Recap from the NEOBA President:
What a Buzz it wuz!
Those of you who were not able to make it to the Big Bee Buzz missed some mighty informative and fun talks. The speakers were absolutely first class in all respects. Special thanks to Neil for arranging to have them here for the Buzz. One thing that stood out to me was that most of the talks were basic enough that most of the attendees were able to understand what was being talked about, but meaty enough that the seasoned beekeepers felt like they were learning something.
Dr. Clarence Cullison was a big hit with the new beekeepers. On Friday, he punctuated his talk about examining combs with lots of pictures of comb and explanations of what to look for in the comb. He took pains to explain the terminology. He followed up on Saturday with good information about how to maximize honey production. His best example was asking how much honey production you should expect if you have four gonzo hives and four weak hives in your bee yard in early spring. The
correct answer is zero. That’s because the weak hives won’t be strong enough to produce anything, and the gonzo hives will swarm. So he explained how to manage that kind of situation by moving bees and comb around.
Dr. Diana Sammataro filled us in on what was happening at the USDA Bee Lab in Tuscon, AZ. On Saturday she entertained us with many slides about mites. Mites are still a big problem, and we need to know more about them. She also signed copies of her book on beekeeping for those who bought them.
Ed Levi showed us how to test for hygenic bees — something he has been doing with beekeepers all over the world. His Friday talk seemed to me to lead us towards developing local bee stock, and using local queens. On Saturday, he showed us slides of his world travels and punctuated the slides with stories about the bees and the beekeepers (and bee robbers) in the pictures. It is really fascinating to hear him talk about how he and his associates have worked over the years to improve beekeeping in all parts of the world. I particularly liked his story about winning over the beekeepers in Armenia. It seems he convinced one of the beekeepers there to use screen bottom boards and to not put those hives in the basement of his house for the winter with the rest of his hives. The next year that beekeeper confessed that he did that with his weakest hives, and after overwintering outside, they produced more honey than
the rest of the hives combined!
Don Molnar gave us an update on what is going on at the Oklahoma State Department of Agriculture. Not a lot has changed. He mentioned that there is a Bill in the State Senate which duplicates Missouri’s Jelly law exempting beekeepers from state health inspections for sales less than $30,000 with certain fairly reasonable provisos.
I found Dr. Charles Abramson from Oklahoma State University to be the surprise hit of the Buzz. He’s a Comparative Psychologist, which means that he studies how differing species learn and react to stimuli. He likes the variety he deals with in his work. He said one day he spent working with honeybees, and the next day he spent working with elephants. What a contrast! He had some fascinating footage of drunk bees — not a pretty sight, mind you. If I followed that part of the talk, the moral was that the alcohol levels found in nature in fermenting fruit, the bees can deal with. Hard liquor, however, is problematic at best. Perhaps the most interesting study described by Dr. Abramson was a study of how bees behave when they have been exposed to “safe” pesticides. The short answer is that the safe pesticides don’t kill the bees, but it does impair their ability to associate smells with nectar rewards, which in turn can adversely affect their pollen and nectar gathering. Dr. Abramson also gave the club two books for our library.
I was just amazed at how well things worked at the Buzz. The place looked great! Caroline did the decorating with bee balloons, baskets of bee candy, and other nice touches. That was in addition to handling registration and collecting money from the silent auction, and other administrative tasks. Klint spent most of the day minding the sound system and projector, and Dane ran the video camera all day. Robert and his family provided the food, which was just fabulous. People helped set up and tear down. Alan was helping orchestrate the kitchen work and the general setup and teardown. Thanks to all the folks who helped in so many ways.
– Ed Lebeau