This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 Oregon State Beekeeper Conference at the Oregon Garden (pictured above) in Silverton, Oregon. The conference included two full days of class presentations and a huge vendor mart, but best of all was a great way to connect with other beekeepers from Oregon and beyond.
During the wine and cheese social on the opening night, Rufus LaLone gave a talk on his project called the Weather Cafe. He is a hobbyist weatherman who approaches meteorology as an art form.
The second and third days were chock full of classes. I will tell you about some highlights below, but please visit this site for a full list of presenters and their courses.
Of all the classes I attended, the one that captured my interest most fully was Pest, Pathogens and Poor Nutrition: Understanding and Mitigating. The presenter, Dr. Ramesh Sagili, is a honey bee researcher for OSU extension. His research on this topic is fascinating. For example, despite hypothesizing that good nutrition would lead to lower nosema spore counts, he found that the spores thrived with good nutrition. However, the better nutrition is still much more beneficial because the well-fed bees still lived longer than those with less nosema and worse nutrition.
I also enjoyed a class called Maximizing Honey Production by Dr. Clint Walker. Even though I am not currently focusing on this particular goal with my own bees, the information he provided was quite useful. He shared data he collected from his geographical area showing the rise and fall in pollen availability throughout the year as compared to the size of the colonies. My biggest take-away from this session was the suggestion to develop and maintain a pollen calendar for your area by watching how much pollen your bees are storing at different times of the year. He recommended Keith Jarret as a great resource for finding out more about pollen supplements for times when you want to feed.
Peter Berthelsen is from an organization called Pheasants Forever, which is not directly related to bees, but made an excellent call to action for everyone who is interested in creating and saving habitat to band together. Emphasizing the current popularity of bees and monarch butterflies, he said the time to move is now. He mentioned a great program designed to incentivize the creation of habitat by landowners. He illustrated how it can actually save a farmer money to convert certain low producing parts of farms to habitat.
George Hansen gave a great presentation on different uses for wax. He included information beyond the common uses of candles and beauty products, also including medicinal possibilities and information about encaustic and installation art.
Additional information gleaned throughout the event included updates as to legislation in our state and country to protect pollinators, lots of resources (some listed below), and the chance to look at bee equipment up close and personal.
I’d recommend this conference to anyone who is interested in learning more about beekeeping!
gotmead.com — great resource for learning how to make honey wine
Walt Wright — information about swarm prevention
Honeybee Democracy — great book on how honeybees make decisions
Biology of the Honeybee — the “Bible” of bee biology