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All Things Bee Coming to MSU

Photo by Sylvia Heaton

Anyone in Michigan with an interest in beekeeping would be well served to attend the Spring Beekeeper’s Conference on March 10-11. The event will be held at the Kellogg Center on the Michigan State University campus. The sponsors of the conference, the Michigan Beekeeper’s Association, is the oldest bee association in the country.

The keynote speaker Dr. Thomas Seeley, is a Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at Cornell University. He teaches courses in animal behavior and researches the functional organization of honeybee colonies. His work has been featured in a number of books:

  • Honeybee Ecology

  • The Wisdom of the Hive: The Social Physiology of Honey Bee Colonies

  • Honeybee Democracy

  • Following the Wild Bees. The Craft and Science of Bee Hunting

MBA states that Dr. Seely, “began keeping and studying bees in 1969, while a high school student, when he brought home a swarm that he had collected in a hastily constructed ‘hive.’ When a college student, he worked each summer in the honeybee laboratory at Cornell University, where he learned the craft of beekeeping and began probing the inner workings of the bee colony. Thoroughly intrigued by the smooth functioning of honey bee colonies, he went on to graduate school at Harvard University where he began his research on bees in earnest and earned his Ph.D. in 1978.”

Attendees of the event can check out a number of lectures, including:

  • Honey Show Prep – Chris Beck

  • How do transportation and relocation affect your bees? – Zachary Huang

  • Effect of on honey bees – Zachary Huang

  • Michigan bee plants – Zachary Huang

  • Hands on honey bee anatomy – Zachary Huang (limited to 25 total, separate registration & fees needed)

  • How to identify and correct a hive with Africanized genetics – Vince & Andrew Ste. Marie

  • Splits – Benefits of and how to do – Nathan Snyder

  • Beginners Track – Dale Woods, Kay Barber, Cindy Dudock (both days) Beekeeping terminology – Cindy Dudock

  • – Charlotte Hubbard – a new and interesting way to learn trivia about bees (and earn prizes)

  • Bee Prepared: the latest buzz about stings, heat stroke and other essential beekeeping first aid – Charlotte Hubbard

  • Varroa Mites – Walt Pepp

  • Mini Nuc Video Series – Steve Tilmann

  • DolittleNucs& Cloak Board Queen Rearing – Sheldon Schwitek

  • What we wished we’d known in the BEEginning – Charlotte Hubbard

  • Comb: Cleaning /rendering wax -Dale Woods

Photo by Sylvia Heaton

In February 2017, the University of Vermont released a map, the first-ever of its kind, illustrating the number of bees present in the nation’s farmland. The chart lists 139 counties in main agricultural areas around the country which seem to show a grim comparison between falling numbers of wild bees, and crop pollination.

In an article in Science Daily, Taylor Ricketts, Gund Professor in UVM's Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, is quoted on his thoughts regarding the results."This study provides the first national picture of wild bees and their impacts on pollination. Wild bees are a precious natural resource we should celebrate and protect. If managed with care, they can help us continue to produce billions of dollars in agricultural income and a wonderful diversity of nutritious food."

Michigan’s honey yield ranked 15th in the country for 2015, a significant position with a yield of 58 pounds per colony. The MBA estimates that honey bees are worth over 1 billion dollars per year in the Great Lake State.

About 50% of the Michigan fruit and vegetable industry is dependent on honey bees, according to data collected in 2015. These crops include some that are 100% reliable on bees in order to survive:

  • Blueberries

  • Carrots

  • Celery

  • Onions

Other crops that rely about 90% on bees for pollination include:

  • Apples

  • Asparagus

  • Cherries

  • Cucumber

  • Pumpkins

  • Squash

Plants that are dependent to a lesser degree, but still over 50% include tomatoes, peppers and fruits such as peaches, plums and prunes. Strawberries follow at 40%.

The reliance of Michigan agriculture on the backyard beekeeper cannot be overstated. Therefore, the Beekeepers Conference is a great opportunity to get the best information for a successful 2017 season.

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