Dr. Ethel Villalobos and her conference organizers for the 2016 WAS Conference in Honolulu are to be congratulated for providing such an information-packed and comfortably staged meeting. Speakers from many parts of the world explained how beekeeping was conducted and the problems that are encountered, especially when keeping bees in warmer climates.
An unexpected honey bee experience occurred at the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Park. When we exited our tour bus, we noticed some honey bees flying around a rock wall and some trash cans. Without much thought, we suspected that they were going into the cans for leftover beverages (but they weren’t). It was a very windy day. As we headed for the trail to the overlook, there was a sign suggesting that we be aware of honey bees on windy days. I didn’t notice the bees as we ascended with the wind, but I did hear someone say that there was a drone congregation area directly overhead. At the final overlook, however, it was apparent that quite a few worker bees were flying, or more accurately, were being blown up the trail. They bumped into people and bounced off the waist-high wall, in various states of vitality.
As we were leaving, a woman bent down and picked up what she thought was a bee body. But, it didn’t look like a worker bee to her, and it had something hanging out of its abdomen. She had found a drone, fresh from mating, dead on the ground at the overlook. Taking a better look at the bees being blown up the hill, there were drones and workers intermixed, but I did not see any queens. For me, this was a first!
The Conference comes back to UC Davis
Turning our attention to next year, we are pleased to bring the conference back to the organizational birthplace of WAS. In the summer of 1977, Dr. Norman Gary, his graduate student Becky Westerdahl, and I organized the trial run of holding an organized conference for the benefit of non-commercial beekeepers in the western U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states. We had very good attendance from the U.S. and Canada, prompting us to write up the articles and incorporate in 1978. Norm, Becky, and I have hung around UC Davis ever since that time and will be reminiscing a bit about early WAS at the 2017 conference.
Beginning Tuesday, September 5, 2017 (the day after Labor Day), I have reserved a pretty spacious room for the general sessions, and the campus has some pretty good places to grab a bite to eat during the day. Unlike the two earliest meetings on campus, we do not intend to try to get dorm rooms lined up for anyone. There are a number of motels in and around Davis. If you are coming, it is a good idea to ask whether or not breakfast is included in the lodging cost. Downtown breakfast spots are not too numerous. But, downtown adult beverage spots are fairly plentiful in the evenings. So are restaurants for lunch and dinner, but parking can be a bit of a problem. Our meeting will coincide with the last week of the second summer session, so we will have to contend with only about 3,000 students instead of 36,000. On Wednesdays we have “Picnic in the (Central) Park.” It is held in conjunction with the Davis Farmers Market and includes farm-fresh produce, baked goods, hot entrées, live music, and a human-powered (bicycle-pedaled) carousel and bounce houses for the kids.
If you arrive a bit early before, or stay a bit later after the conference, there is quite a bit to see on campus and around Davis. The University has a lengthy arboretum that runs along the south side of the campus. It has regions devoted to focused plantings of California oak species, Asian and African plants, and a white flowers of all types garden (many species of hummingbirds). Various sculptures and other items of art are seen more toward the east end of campus. Nearby are the free Schrem Museum of Art and the (not quite free) Mondavi Theatre of the Performing Arts. We will have to wait a while before I can tell you what will be going on at Mondavi that week. Davis also is located about 30 minutes from Downtown Sacramento by car, a two-hour drive to San Francisco or Lake Tahoe, and around 60-90 minutes to Wine Country and Gold Country.
We are going to leave central campus a couple times (by attendees’ vehicles), if things work out as I currently envision them. The Dr. Harry H. Laidlaw, Jr. Bee Biology Facility and the Häagen Dazs Bee Haven Garden will be focal points, as will The Moon Shine Honey Company packing facility and the Mann Lake warehouse and showroom, and their sugar syrup blending facility.
Presenters will discuss their latest findings in the areas of both honey bees and native bees. Native bee research at UC Davis has expanded exponentially and brings a wonderful additional element to our bee program.