Last week Amanda and I took the intensive BeeMaster course offered by the B.C. government’s Ministry of Agriculture through its apiculture department.
This program is offered only once every two years and usually has a waiting list. It brings together research scientists, commercial beekeepers, government officials and others at the peak of the beekeeping industry.
For five days nearly four dozen beekeepers, ranging from large commercial operators to small hobbyists learned about cutting edge issues affecting the bee world.
From breaking science in disease identification and control, to the ins and outs of pollination contracts to the long-term effects of residues in hives and honey to the current state of local, provincial and federal legislation affecting honey bees, our group was given an overload of information. And then, to top it all off, there was a not-insignificant exam at the end that left many people in the room groaning. What in the heck is polymerase chain reaction, and why do I have to know it, someone muttered under their breath.
For a journalist like myself, it was heaven. I was exposed to breaking stories, such as the promising new work done by scientists at Agriculture & Agri-food Canada’s Beaverlodge Research Farm into chalkbrood disease, the growing prevalence of nosema ceranae in Canada, and new methods of integrated pest management that offer hope for beating back that worldwide scourge, the varroa destructor mite. (Last year, Amanda and I took the provincial introductory course, at which this photo of Jaquie Bunse, the bee inspector for the Fraser Valley was taken.)
Over the course of the next few weeks I’ll try to publish a series of stories looking at issues that came up during the conference.