It was an interesting experience to hear “Iowa Is About to Blowup in the Bee World” come from the mouth of Dennis vanEngelsdorp (PhD at U Maryland). He is exceptional as a presenter–not a gift that many academics boast among their talents. He particularly spoke on the shifted curve for managing varroa successfully as the viruses they circulate have become ubiquitous. As for Iowa’s apicultural potential, he was especially referring to rising talent and quality research shaping up at Iowa State University under Amy Toth and some other researchers of interest for the pollinator-loving public. Iowa was once reasonably prominent in the realm of beekeeping (several decades ago) but has really only rebuilt something of an identity in recent years. We now have a so-called “Bee Team” doing quality work again! They recently earned a $1M grant to study potential roles that prairie strips could play in providing better habitat for bees and other species in agricultural regions (85% of Iowa’s landscape is commercially cultivated). Check out more on the STRIPS project at their website.
FYI, the annual meeting of the Iowa Honey Producers Association is rather substantial. Here is one of the pioneers in varroa research, Dr. Marion Ellis, in front of a crowd of almost 400! He was the course leader for the “master beekeeper” certification that I pursued when I was sixteen years old and driving my first car out to Nebraska (it didn’t even have license plates yet!)
I also got a bit of a surprise for my presentation in a “breakout session.” My experience with breakout sessions involves relatively small groups of several individuals to a couple of dozen people, but I decided it was best to breakout the PowerPoint in my pocket when over one hundred came to hear about queens! One of the great things about beekeeping conferences is that pretentious people are extremely rare, so jeans and hats are A-okay
All in all, it was an exceptional conference. The IHPA’s vice president of the board of directors wins the job of organizing the details, and Eve Vanden Broek did an outstanding job this year. Moving up to the presidency may feel like a relief after the endless logistics leading to this past weekend’s success!