Last Saturday, the local bee club put on a Bee Day class. Several of us in the club worked together to set it up- Bob coordinated it, Sheila and I did the advertising, and Trisha did the catering. The star attraction, though, was the lecturer: Dr. Dewey Carron. He’s a world-famous apicultural scientist, and has been researching and teaching about bees for over half a century. The general concensus is that we’re lucky to have him out here in Oregon; he’s originally from the east coast, and he was a professor at the University of Deleware for much of his career, and only moved out here (and subsequently joined the OSU bee lab as a retirement gig) to be closer to his grandkids.
I say “world famous” because he also lives part time in Bolivia, and literally wrote the book on Africanized (“killer”) bees. This is why I was so excited to finally meet they guy. He was the person who gave me a lot of good advice and personal connections to local Panamanian beekeepers back when I went to teach the bee class in Panama. We talked on the phone and exchanged many emails, but I never actually met the guy in person until Saturday. As I would have expected, he was a very friendly and likeable guy.
We had a turn out much larger than expected, and Dewey spoke on diverse and interesting topics. Many of the audience were already beekeepers, and we got a lot out of the day. Some of the new beekeepers may have left overloaded, though, so I am thinking about us maybe hosting a day for beginners next year. Something to think about.
As part of the display materials, many of us brought equipment for show and tell. I displayed a Warré hive I built, and it generated a lot of discussion during the breaks. Enough, that Dewey had me get up and give a 15-minute presentation on its construction, history, and how Warré management differs from traditional Langstroth hives. It was fun to get to be the “other speaker,” even if I was a little caught off guard. Afterwards, Dewey said I should lecture at the state beekeeping conference next year. That caught me more off guard, but he said he thought it was a great idea, and he’d get me on the schedule if I was interested.
The next day, I put the hive into action. Here we see it at Lance’s farm, waiting patiently for a swarm to move in. You see, there is this thing thing that beekeepers can sometimes do called a “bait hive.” The idea is, you can leave a small, empty hive near a place you expect a swarm to pass, and with a little luck they will move into it- for free! You can’t see it in the picture, but about 30 feet away is a giant old tree with a huge crack in the base, where bees have been living for years. This is a much sought-after source of “survivor stock” genetic material. I’m not the only person who had this idea- in the background of the picture you can see Sheila and Earl’s bait hive. Sometime between when I asked Lance if I could leave mine and when I finally got around to installing it, they showed up and left theirs (we’re all friends). I was joking with Sheila at Bee Day that it would be a “duel of the hives” to see which could catch the swarm… you know, let the best hive win and all that. Really, it is a somewhat exciting experiment in apiculture. Sheila laughed, and said that she thought mine would win, and the bees would choose it because it was prettier. I’ll keep you posted.