DAVIS, Calif. — Have you ever received an email, text or postcard from vacationing family or friends with the lead sentence: “Wish you were here?”
Well, in this case, it’s “Wish you WAS here!”
Excitement is building for the 40th anniversary conference of the Western Apiculture Society (WAS) of North America, headed by president Eric Mussen, Extension apiculturist emeritus. WAS returns to its roots on Sept. 5-8 and will be meeting here in Davis. The organization was founded at UC Davis by professor Norm Gary (his idea); postdoctoral fellow Becky Westerdahl, and Eric Mussen, then a new faculty member. Gary is now an emeritus professor; Westerdahl is a Extension nematologist with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology; and Mussen, although retired, maintains an office in Briggs Hall where he continues answering questions about bees. This is also his sixth term as WAS president, so the “R” word does not mean “Relax.”
We asked Eric Mussen for 10 reasons why folks might want to attend the conference, which is open to all interested persons, and registration is now underway. WAS defines itself as “a non-profit, educational, beekeeping organization founded in 1978 for the benefit and enjoyment of all beekeepers in western North America. Anyone can join, but the organization is specifically designed to meet the educational needs of beekeepers from Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming as well as the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.
The 2017 WAS Conference will provide the following opportunities, according to honey bee guru “Dr. Eric”:
– to learn about current scientific honey and native bee research, from the researchers themselves, on varying topics such as foraging behavior, parasites, predators, and diseases of bees
– to speak directly to the researchers concerning their research findings and any other bee-related topics
– to learn specific beekeeping-related information from nationally renowned speakers such as Bee Culture editor Kim Flottum of Ohio, who will discuss “The Rapidly Changing Bee Scene”; Les Crowder of Texas, co-author of the book, Top-Bar Beekeeping: Organic Practices for Honey Bee Health, who will focus on “Managing Honey Bee Colonies in Top-Bar Hives” with co-author Heather Harrell; and Larry Connor of Michigan, who will address more in-depth beekeeping fundamentals with his presentation “Keeping Your Bees Alive and Growing.”
– to discuss your beekeeping styles, successes and difficulties with beekeeping peers from western U.S. states and Canadian provinces
– to meet new friends and to share recent personal information with long-time acquaintances
– to learn about various styles of beekeeping from “leave alone,” through “essential intervention,” to “intensive intervention”
– to exchange opinions on unique hives and products brought to the conference by various vendors or demonstrated during the tour to UC Davis facilities, the Harry H. Laidlaw Jr. Honey Bee Research Facility and the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven, a half-acre bee friendly garden installed in 2009 and anchored by a ceramic-mosaic sculpture of a six-foot-long worker bee, and art coordinated by entomology professor/artist Diane Ullman and self-described rock artist Donna Billick
– to obtain in-depth knowledge on industry concerns, such as pesticide issues
– to participate in a formal honey tasting led by Amina Harris, director of the UC Davis Honey and Pollination Center
– to interact with personnel from Mann Lake LTD on a tour to their products showroom, warehouse assembly plant, and liquid sugar blending plant. That tour also includes a visit a highly successful, moderate-sized, retail, gourmet honey packing operation Z Specialty Foods.
(So, those are 10 good reasons. The prez gets an extra bonus point: he provided 11 reasons, and No. 11 is…drum roll…) to visit the UC Davis campus, downtown Davis, and the northern Central Valley of America
Another big draw is leadoff speaker and Sonoma County beekeeper Serge Labesque, “who has organized a terrific presentation on the natural seasonal growth and decline of a healthy honey bee colony population living in a hollow tree,” Mussen said.
Okay, that’s an even dozen!
You can learn more about the WAS meeting on its website. (And be sure to register so you can send your family and friends a note saying “Wish you WAS here.”)
–Kathy Keatley Garvey
Western Apicultural Society
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