President’s Message – August 2020

Message from the President: Early August 2020

This fall, it will be 5 years since I became President of BCHPA. Things have changed a lot in the meantime: the association is more active in pursuing research than before and we continue a very positive relationship with the Ministry of Agriculture, with remarkable support from Minister Lana Popham. We have more branches and members, and our financial position is very strong. At our upcoming virtual annual meeting In October, I will proceed to the Past President position and we will have elections. For this last BeesCene before the event, it seems necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken hold of the world news and is now at the 6-month point. There is a dizzying array of analysis, statistics and charts linear vs logarithmic, etc. of the pandemic’s progression.

How are we doing? 

It seems to me: the virus has spread and is affecting populations throughout the world. Notably, less in China where it was first identified, and less in some nearby countries like Viet Nam, leading some to suggest that a form of it may have been present and creating some immunity for months or years before.  North America and Europe, even with their relatively well-resourced health systems, have been affected more to date. Many countries in Africa appear little affected, and whether that is because of a later start, young demographics or inaccurate records, is still not clear. Countries have a wide range of policies to manage the disease and a range of results. A summary of the pandemic situation in round numbers, early August 2020:


(Considered under-estimates)




Deaths per 100,000pop.



18 million


from <1  to over 100

actuals may be several-fold of these reports


4.8 million



>1000 deaths per day, and increasing





mostly among the elderly in long-term care





was ~10 new cases per day but now ~30 since precautions were reduced


As numbers of cases increase, reports of symptoms and effects of the illness have become more varied, ranging from un-noticed (yet till contagious) through common cold-like symptoms, to severe respiratory effects for 3 to 4 weeks, or even longer-lasting impacts on various body systems and sometimes resulting in death. A remarkable feature is the low vulnerability of infants and young children: still not well understood but possibly the basis of a broader solution.  The high vulnerability of elderly persons has been clear from the beginning, with about 80 % of deaths in Canada, within that category. BC has emerged as a relatively lower-affected region, with some combination of trustworthy leadership, sound policies, and a social consensus to accepted the advice to reduce contact with others. Logic, mutual respect, patience, and calm confidence seems to have been more effective than arrogance, hostility or ignoring the situation.  Closure of schools, cancellation of most group meetings, and timing of the pandemic to a warming season with less indoor gatherings, apparently contributed to BC’s avoidance of overwhelming the health care system. Only about 1 % of people have antibodies to the virus, so the continued increase is expected. An end to the pandemic is only speculation, but some positive reports are that many efforts at a vaccine and/or effective treatment are underway, and some appear encouraging, though still at least months away.

In addition to the huge change in health behaviour, there has been a massive change in employment and economics. Some of us may have thought we had “economy” roughly figured out (pay your way: don’t spend more than you earn, at least in the long run). Modern monetary theory and negative interest rates apparently don’t fit that model.  The bold (or risky) commitment of billions of dollars from the Government to support broad sectors of the economy, may have us wondering for years to come. We can hope that some resolution (vaccine, treatment, or other) will evolve, and the world will bounce back and be able to eventually pay the bills.

It isn’t clear to me what effect there has been on apiculture. Many thousands of bee packages from the southern hemisphere didn’t get delivered to Canadian beekeepers. At the same time, many honey sellers have reported an increase in demand for honey. Reduced supply, increased demand? Sounds like setting the stage for an increase in price. The full effect may not be known for months.

Our board has been engaged in considering options for the rest of the year (including our planned 100th Anniversary convention in October). We have surveyed our members, made some decisions for an internet-based business meeting, and are developing details for educational opportunities. Our primary goal is to meet our association’s needs while not triggering health problems among our members and our communities. With Best Wishes and hopes for good health to you and your colonies.

Bees Be With You,

Kerry Clark, President, BCHPA

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