2018 WAS Conference – Boise, ID
Whazzup? Boise, 2018. WAS Up!
We are about two months away from our conference. I hope that you have submitted your registration materials to our Treasurer. The sooner we know how many are coming, the better we can plan for food, in particular. You also should get your reservations made in one of our motels, since we do not have a convention center or convention hotel in Davis. I have prepared a separate Journal article on traveling to and driving around the campus, to reach the conference facility. Parking permits are going to be at the registration desk in ARC near Ballrooms A&B. You will be liable for a parking ticket if the ticket person spots your vehicle before you can get into ARC and return with your permit. I begged for a bit of leniency. If you get a ticket, it could be “fixed” if I submit your license plate number and your permit number on an appropriate list. But, I’m only going to do that for “best efforts.”
If you are going to be around Davis for a day or two extra, and you are wondering about what you might wish to do locally, our little Davis paper, The Davis Enterprise, just published and distributed a 24-page (including significant advertising) “Summer 2017 Davis Visitor’s Guide.” I have prepared two other lists: Davis Restaurants and Davis Fast Food Places that appear in the Journal.
The July/August WAS Journal contains the schedule for the conference, as it stands today. (It will also be posted here on the website soon.) Of course, things are subject to change, but this is how it appears to be going: see conference schedule beginning on page 13. As you can see, the entire on-campus meeting is going to take place in the ARC Ballroom. That very large hall has a retractile wall that we will use to separate the space into two rooms. The larger room will seat the audience for presentations. The smaller room will house the vendors and the silent auction, and then on Friday afternoon will be set up for the banquet. The tours will leave in private vehicles from parking lots #25 and #35.
We are getting close to the closing date (July 31st) for submitting names and supporting information for the candidates for the “Outstanding Service to Beekeeping Award” (U.S. or Canada) and “Thurber Award for Inventiveness” (local award, probably from California). The Awards Committee has to have time to make the selection, contact the recipients, make arrangements for them to be present at the awards banquet, and have their plaques engraved. So, if you have one or more candidates, get that information to Awards Committee chair, Archie Mitchell, at: Archibald_178@hotmail.com by July 31st.
Looking forward to seeing you at this special 40th Anniversary WAS Conference.
It seems like it is still winter in some respects (still raining and muddy in California), but it is spring and the bees know all about spring. The weather turns warms, all sorts of trees, shrubs and flowers come into bloom and put on quite a smorgasbord for the bees. However, don’t be fooled. Just when the bees are rearing brood very energetically, there are locations where the blossoms suddenly become non-existent and the bees require feeding before the next flow begins. Please keep an eye on how things are progressing with your colonies.
Things are coming along pretty well for the upcoming WAS conference. I finally rounded up the folks who are willing to serve as members and chairs of the committees that are listed in our bylaws. The committee tasks are listed in the bylaws as well, but I added a few more for the auditing and resolutions committees. The resolutions members are going to suggest ways that we can govern ourselves more efficiently and effectively. Those suggestions will be brought to the members for voting at the next business meeting of the general membership. For those of you who do things well in advance, I should tell you that Archie Mitchell is the Chair of the Awards Committee. He will be receiving the nominations of candidates for our “Outstanding Service to Beekeeping Award” (wide open) and our “Thurber Award for Inventiveness” (usually confined to the state or province in which the conference is being held). If you have a favorite candidate, please submit his or her name, with detailed supporting information before the registration cutoff – July 31, 2017. Archie’s email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
We have most of the speakers lined up and the topics are going to be quite varied. Kim Flottum, of Bee Culture, will share some of his insights on the “Rapidly Changing Bee Scene.” There will be speakers on colony management, including Les Crowder, co-author with Heather Harrell, of the book: “Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health.” Les will be discussing managing honey bee colonies in top-bar hives. There will be an off-campus tour to a major beekeeping supply company and sugar syrup supplier, a visit to the UC Davis Bee Biology Facility and to the Häagen Dazs Bee Haven Garden. A number of presenters will have additional mini-sessions outdoors at Bee Biology on Thursday afternoon: various types of bee hives (containing colonies), diagnosing Nosema or Varroa, native bees foraging in screen houses and in the field, preparing bee samples for molecular studies, selecting plants for bee food, and more.
For those who wish to hear more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals, Dr. Larry Connor will be visiting with us. Participants will be given the option of attending the local, off-campus tour on Wednesday after lunch, or attending Larry’s session for an additional $50 per person. That option is available on the registration form. Larry’s presentation will be: “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.” It will be a three-part session, including: 1) The Numbers Game – Understanding Honey Bee Reproduction; 2) Making and Using Increase Packages; and 3) Managing Colonies for Sustainability – Location, Genetics and Nutrition. Larry also is the founder and owner of Wicwas Press, and he will have a variety of books for review at the conference. Other speakers have been mentioned in my previous President’s Message.
I am going to try to convince representatives from the major ag chemical companies to share with us their techniques for determining toxicity and risks to honey bees of using their products around apiaries. This is not meant to be an open attack on the companies, and I will be moderating the panel tightly. Protesters will be kept outside. Questions to the panelists will be screened through me. We are looking for the truth behind the research and development scenes, not for an opportunity to throw rocks. However, I am not inhibited about asking pointed questions on experimental design and experimental protocol. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you hear.
I located a superb artist within the UC Davis system to create our conference emblem. He created a whimsical design featuring the honey bee, a penny farthing, and the conference info. It is a black and gold pattern on a white, crew neck, T-shirt.
Fran Bach suggested that it might be a good idea to list the motels in Davis, so that you might get your reservation in early. There are a limited number of motels from which to choose. Many are within “hiking” distance of the campus, but I strongly suggest purchasing a 4-day campus parking permit. Those permits are good in nearly all campus lots. Parking on any city streets within a mile of the edges of campus is controlled by residential parking permits. Lastly, I would suggest that you find lodging at a motel that provides breakfast. There are breakfast places on campus, but they are pretty busy in the morning (in fact, at all meal times).
I will keep pursuing the unfinished tasks and try to provide you with an enjoyable and educational visit to Davis during the first full week in September.
Unlike the past half-decade, this winter in California has begun surprisingly rainy. Severe flooding has not been a problem, yet, but local streams are reaching their banks (many are dry during the summer). From a beekeeper’s point of view, we welcome the rain. If the rain recharges the soil adequately, then the plants that we depend upon for nectars and pollens can bloom well into the year. Otherwise our beekeepers have to begin feeding their colonies as early as April, and periodically throughout the rest of the year.
I came into this presidency rather abruptly, so some decisions had to be made quickly. I have reserved a spacious room on campus for housing the general sessions, vendors/exhibitors, and banquet. I am completing the process of appointing various folks to help with the committee work. I also appointed individuals to fill the vacancies of state directors.
Now I am beginning to develop a presentation schedule that will include a little something for everyone. On our Entomology Department faculty we have three individuals working directly on honey bee-related topics: Dr. Brian Johnson who is working on molecular studies; Dr. Elina Niño who is conducting research on Varroa control products and some pesticide issues; and Dr. Rachel Vannette who is following the succession of microbial turnover in flower nectars as the bloom period progresses. I find those studies intriguing, since I tend to think that honey bees can pick up all the microbes of importance to them while foraging for water, nectars, and pollens. Besides obtaining major and minor nutrients, that is one of the reasons why a substantial mix of different pollens is so important to bee health.
And speaking of bee health, we have a very active native bee program in place, sharing the Bee Biology Facility with the honey bees. Dr. Neal Williams has been very adroit as a grants man, and has built up a really strong program geared toward determining which bee species may be of assistance (or become the pollinator of choice) for some California crops. Commercial use of those bees would require the establishment of specific habitats on a substantial portion of a grower’s property. To keep the native bee populations stable also would require conversion of large spaces to native bee habitat, as well. Since honey bees tend to willingly “share” many nectar and pollen-producing plants in an area, native bee plantings should help honey bees considerably, too.
You cannot catalog useful information about bee-plant interactions until you are sure of which bee you are watching. Dr. Robbin Thorp worked tangentially on native bees when hired as an apiculturist in the 1960s. Once retired and granted Emeritus status, Robbin plunged into native bee work with a vengeance. He identifies bees for the local native bee studies and also for researchers around the world. He is particularly interested in bumble bees and just co-authored a couple books in that area of expertise.
I anticipate that most of those faculty members will be participating in the upcoming conference. I will leave what they will be presenting up to them. But, I have already cemented down our leadoff speaker. Serge Labesque originally kept bees in France. When he came to the U.S. he sought a location that would be similar to that which he left, and settled down in Glenn Ellen in California’s wine country. Serge is an immaculate beekeeper – everything clean, neat, and tidy. He and I are good friends, but we have a few differences of opinions about beekeeping. I respect his opinions for desiring to select from local stocks of bees that can handle all the problems we throw at them. And he reluctantly admits that commercial beekeepers do need to do certain things to keep their bees alive. However, Serge has organized a terrific presentation on the natural, seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree. Please pay attention to all the details in his presentation. They will help you do a much better job of keeping bees, no matter how you do it.
My plans include having the group off the central campus for a couple half days. We will need to form a caravan of personal vehicles to move everyone around. Also, those without wheels will have to find some empty passenger seats to get to the events. Don’t worry! All beekeepers are slow, cautious drivers – at least when they are hauling bees.
I am looking forward to seeing you early in September.