From the President June 2017
In early May, bee conditions seemed not so bad. My optimism took over as I saw masses of bees gathering an abundance of willow pollen. Within days of publication of the BeesCene, I learned of some very discouraging winter survival rates. Bee colonies operate in weather conditions that none of us can control and sometimes in spite of what we do, may thrive or perish. This past winter throughout BC was a big change from the mild one of 2016. I’ve heard some discouraging reports of lower colony survival and already some nuc suppliers are limiting orders to avoid over-stressing overwintered colonies. I hope that isn’t too widespread and that there will an adequate supply for the many folks who would like to start beekeeping. In the Peace we had snow from October 1 through most of April, reflecting a continuing weakness of beekeeping in the north.
For the first time I can recall, it looked like our semi-annual meeting March 10/11 in Kamloops might run into the problem of too many attendees! Our room limit was 175 and we came so close it was a concern. We squeaked through, accommodating everyone who showed up. We have looked into larger venues and will be finalizing that soon. The quality of educational presentations was high and well appreciated (see them, even again, on our website). I found it comforting that, even though there are food premises regulations (see http://www.bclaws.ca/Recon/document/ID/freeside/11_210_99 ) that could be onerous for honey producers; honey is so recognized as a very low risk product (see page 8 at this link http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/sites/default/files/files/Guidelines%20-%20Sale%20of%20Foods%20at%20Temporary%20Food%20Markets_current(1).pdf ) that reasonable care generally adequate for farm gate or Farmers Market sales. The extended presentation on the sustainable apiary had lessons we can all consider. Don’t hesitate to communicate with us about your ideas for future meetings, either directly or through your regional representative.
Just prior to the meeting your executive and early-arriving regional reps had a positive and productive dialogue with Paul van Westendorp, to build on our relationship and increase mutual understanding. Perhaps the key point is that all indications are that there are no significant changes planned for the Apiculture Program.
BCHPA members at the business meeting were pleased to welcome another class of graduating Certified Instructors of Introductory Beekeeping. I feel this program lead by Lance Cuthill has been a great success, both in improving the level of knowledge in beginning beekeepers, and in increasing BCHPA membership (many course attendees become and stay members). I’ve taken the instructor’s course and through February presented a course at Northern Lights College in Dawson Creek (second field day tomorrow). I was pleased by the enthusiasm and progress of my students. Recently, one suggested an improvement to the wording of a beekeeping bylaw, that I thought demonstrated a superior understanding of bee biology and management. I’m happy if my course contributed to that.
May 29 was Day of the Honey Bee. I hope some of us found a way of promoting awareness of honey bees in your community, and ways that everyone can make the environment better for both bees and people.
Using our contacts from BC Agriculture Council, we are pursuing a collaborative relationship with the berry growers of the Fraser Valley, hoping to get answers to problems in bee colonies used for pollination, possibly a result of fungicide or other pesticide applications. It’s a big challenge and we are just starting, but we hope to tackle it for mutual benefit.
Planning is well underway for our Annual meeting in Kelowna: business Friday October 27, and Educational days: Saturday 28 and Sunday 29. Basic information is on our website. Parts of the BCHPA program will have a choice of presentations for commercial vs. non-commercially-oriented beekeepers. Canadian Honey Council and Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists will also be meeting at the same venue, and there will be a Bee Research Symposium open to all who are registered at the BCHPA meeting. Plans aren’t finalized yet, but I’m already looking forward to it. My Best Wishes to you and your bees for the upcoming summer.
Bees be with you.
Kerry Clark, President