Sunday, March 20, 2016

What you missed by skipping the Geneva Bee Conference

The Geneva Bee Conference ( is held once a year at Hobart and William Smith College in Geneva, NY. I've attended almost every year usually as a vender. This year I just sat and listened.
First, a record number of Steuben County Honeybee Association members attended—3.  The conference was sold out, meaning all the seats in the auditorium were full. But wait! Not everyone who paid actually came, so there were lots of empty seats. That’s good fact of human nature to file away, for next time. Always have pay-in-advance registration, and then allow in the last minute people if there is room.

2. Staying seated for a whole day can be painful, but the seats were padded and the back rests flexed so you could shift a bit.

3. Your $25 fee included free coffee, tea, and pastries.

4. Mike Palmer has presented his talks in Australia and the United Kingdom and both are available on YouTube. Type his name into the search bar and you can have the GBC experience in the privacy of your own home.  I’d already watched them twice so it was review for me. Even after watching the presentation 3 times, by the end I feel confused. You remove queens from nucs, but you need new queens to replace them and you need hives in which to place new queens or queencellsandyoushouldhaveremovedqueensthedaybeforefromthehives… Anyways, there is lots of good information. The take away is a quote he borrowed from someone: “All beekeeping problems can be solved by either putting something into or taking something out of a nuc.” I thought Mike had developed his techniques by reading the nineteenth century bee writers, but surprise! He developed them independently, thought he had discovered something radical and new and then, leafing through Fifty Years among the Bees, discovered it had all been done before.  

5. Dr. Tom Seeley talked about his research on the wild bees of the Arnot Forest near Ithaca. Again, his presentation is available on YouTube. Two takeaways: First the population of wild colonies is approximately the same as before the mites came and we all assumed the wild colonies had been wiped out. Second, as a youth Seeley had pinned a bunch of bees in the 1970s and by genome sequencing those and the modern Arnot forest bees, surprise! There had been a big gene shift indicating a population drop and then a recovery. The wild bee genes indicate a mix of Italian, Black bee, Carniolan, and Middle Eastern and even some African genes.
6. There were also presentations on bee nutrition, mead making, dealing with pests, and labelling honey.

7. I’d say the really big climax of the day, not counting the bad bee puns that the masters of ceremonies filled in with, is the free refrigerator magnet with the date of next year’s Geneva Bee Conference—March 18th, 2017.

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