The American Honey Producers Association is holding its annual convention in Sacramento. Founder Phil started coming to this conference roughly fifteen years ago; we think it was 2004. In more recent years, Alex and I joined the annual bee people party. This year’s conference was the first time that all three of us have been there at the same time. I’m glad we got a photo of the event.
I haven’t heard how the attendance number tallied this year, but it feels like we might have spiked a little. The energy is quite good. Some of the keys for this type of conference are to keep the people mostly together rather than scattered all over the place, orchestrate steady traffic for the tradeshow part of the conference, and keep people engaged. This particular association is overwhelmingly comprised of very practical beekeepers that operate on a scale that necessitates and embraces presentations from scientific, agricultural, governmental, and applied beekeeping speakers. The level of complexity driving a small agricultural industry is remarkable. Its significance to the overall food supply probably explains the range of contributors and their quality.
Below is an image of Randy Oliver speaking. He is singularly well-known on the bee speaking circuit for blending quality research with an immediate practical aim. I am extremely happy for him. He has worked for years to find new, affordable, mite control methods while simultaneously working to breed quality queens that produce bees which are behaviorally resistant to varroa. Both projects were frustrating for years, and now the data suggest a breakthrough in treatment and at least moderate hope for breeding productive resistant bees. We are lucky to have him in the fold. The expanse of his pursuits is documented on his website and published in apicultural journals.
A few other topics caught my attention too. There is a new hive registration system in California called BeeWhere. It is supposed to help avoid pesticide applications that accidentally annihilate bees due to noncommunication between bee people and farmers, especially when bees are placed for almonds. A 1-mile radius will apply for every bee location that will require notification of the beekeeper if a pesticide will be applied to a blossoming crop. There will be civil penalties (fines) for beekeepers that don’t comply with registration after a couple of warnings. I assume that the brokers placing bees are really the ones responsible for most of this registration since over half of the two million hives come from out of state for the almond pollination.
In the bigger picture, almond acreage keeps growing. Around one million acres are bearing, and another 300,000 acres are planted. That means we will need another half million hives out here to set almonds in the future. Supplying those bees may be a challenge. . . . the barrel is close to the bottom unless we develop new beekeepers or bees that don’t die so readily due to problems that are hard to solve. We shall see.