Bees, Beekeeping and Honey Queens in Rhode Island – pg3

From: Page 23 Bee Craft Digital September 2011

Bee-Craft-Sept-11-pg23The final talk I attended was presented by Maryann and Jim Frazier, both professors at Penn State University on ‘Honey Bees and Pesticides’. This is a topic I’ve heard Maryann speak about at previous EAS conferences. As the title suggests, she works with other members of the university departments on the impacts of pesticides and miticides on honey bees and other pollinators. It’s always frightening to hear that up to 121 different pesticides and miticides can be applied to crops as solvents, diluents, surfactants, UV protectants, sticking agents and penetration agents. Significant work has been done to understand the highest dose levels that bees can withstand (known as the ‘LD50 level’, the level which kills 50% of the test population with a single dose). Their aim is obviously to research lower dosage levels and also to try and encourage government to improve the level of feedback of any qualifications given when a substance is registered.

Pollen Identification Workshop

Rob, after listening to all these talks, I chose to do something practical and attended Paul Arnold’s workshop on pollen microscopy. He says this is an area in which the UK and Europe are ahead of the US in the techniques used. It’s a skill that is becoming critical for beekeepers who want to produce honey from a predominately single source. It’s also important for beekeepers who’re interested in where their bees are foraging and what they’re eating. Paul initially took us through the background to pollen analysis in honey and the equipment that’s needed: a compound microscope, centrifuge, test tubes, pipette, stirrer, slides and cover slips. We then tried our skills on a few samples of honey. It took me some time to remember how to focus the microscope on a sample slide but, once I’d done this, all went well with my efforts. It was a worthwhile workshop with a reasonable amount of individual attention.

A Honey Princess, a Honey Queen and Bill Turnbull

Well Rob, I’ll finish this e-mail by mentioning that Bee Craft had a stand in the supplier area where we promoted the digital edition of the UK journal, the printed edition being too expensive to ship compared with the price of comparable US journals. Sales of stock items from the Bee Craft shop also went well this year. All suppliers had the occasional visit from Allison Adams, the American Honey Princess, and Alyssa Fine, the Pennsylvania Honey Queen. Both are beekeepers and travel widely promoting beekeeping and honey industries by attendance at schools, fairs, festivals and participation in media interviews. We were also entertained by Ronnie the Balloon Man who cheerfully blew and twisted balloons to create bees on flowers for all and sundry. On Thursday evening there was clambake and an auction of beekeeping items. This was followed on Friday evening by a banquet where Bill Turnbull, a long-time co-host of BBC Breakfast, our UK morning TV show, kept us amused with a light hearted talk about his beekeeping exploits. He told us how he stumbled into beekeeping when a swarm of honey bees landed in his back garden. Stung on the head, twice, at his very first hands-on beekeeping class, he learned that there can be no adventure without a little risk. During the conference, several authors spoke about their recent books and signed copies. Bill’s book, The Bad Beekeepers Club, was among them. As you know, EAS has a honey show most years and I wave the flag for the UK with an entry in the liquid honey class. I was really pleased to get a third place this year. Although there weren’t a lot of entries, the standard was high. There was some beautiful wax including a very impressive hexagonal moulded plaque. Well Rob, I ought to stop now as my plane to Heathrow has just been called, so I’ll send this e-mail now and speak to you when I return to the UK. Uncle Mike

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