April 2011

Jim Pickett called the meeting to order at 7pm, about 109 people in attendence. Really? Where are y'all coming from?!?

If you need to order a queen, you need to pay very soon. $25 per queen. They're coming 5 May and will be Carniolans from California's Kohenen Apiaries. Contact Mel at mel@nwabeekeepers.com or mail a check VERY SOON to Mel Harvey at 18392 South Highway 71, Winslow, AR 72959. You need to be a current dues paying member to order, so include dues with your queen payment ($10/year for individual and $15/year for family).

We need someone to give a talk to Lindell School in Rogers, Ed Berry said he might could do it. If anyone's interested in giving talks to schools, please let us (Mel mel@nwabeekeepers.com or Jim Pickett nopcme@cox.net ) know becuase we always get calls for people to come talk to schools.

We had a great bee inspection at Horace and Dolores Bryants, with at least 35-40 people in attendence. Thanks to Ed and Seneca for all their lessons and time and thanks to the Bryants for having us over again.

Jim urged people to get mentors, as it's really valuable to have one.

Jim introduced our guest speaker, Ed Levi, who is our outgoing State Inspector whom we will miss desperately. Seneca is his current assistant who is helping him do the National Honey Bee Health Survey. Tonight Ed talked about Bee's Over Seas (BBB/CCCC). This is a very condensed version of what Ed talked about:

He has worked in at least 17 different countries around the world teaching beekeepers as well as learning from them. He kept bees for 5 years in France, where he "started learning" beekeeping. He took on a very old apiary that had been there a very long time. He first kept "Black German Bees" (Apis melifera melifera) and didn't realize that all bees are not all that mean! He found out that consumers in France are very sophisticated and they want very specific varietal types of honey, like Heather, Lavendar, Pines, Clover. He spent 3 1/2 years in Switzerland and came across some really neat hives.

In his travels around the former Soviet republics was interesting because when the Soviet Union fell, they beekeepers lost their supports and didn't really know how to function independantly but now things are improving. He's spent time in Khazakistan and Armenia and saw lots of interesting migratory situations. In Armenia he was a part of the founding of the National Beekeeper's Federation in Armenia and helped all the little associations form and band together in the country, which allowed Armenia to enter into the world honey market. He's taken Armenian beekeepers to Apimondia and the Armenian beekeepers are now doing quite well with breeding centers and associations throughout the country.

In South Asia he learned of alot of disadvantages of the region for beekeeping like predators, monsoon season, impoverished consumers, lack of support, and lack of information. They have advantages as well like a drive to success, innate intelligence, amazing inventiveness, developing market, inexpensive labor, and various floral sourse and good bee stock with at least 5 species available. Probably the most impressive place he has worked is in Bangladesh where there are Mawalis - honey hunters, who were really destroying the bees because they don't know about bees and beekeeping. It's dangerous place due to tigers, as well. The bees there live in the trees, are Apis dorsata, and are not so nice and many Mawalis get eaten by the tigers. His favorite place so far has been Nepal. The bees are very gentle and people live in harmony with the bees. They keep Apis melifera as well as Apis cerana, a smaller bee and they also have Apis dorsata, who by the way have only 1 sheet of comb for each colony with the brood at the top and honey at the bottom. Another one in Nepal is the Apis laboriosa, who live in the cliffs. He spent most of his time in Nepal in Chitwan (a province) where again, the bees are incredibly gentle. He helped form an association there with grants from the government and they got some land for an apiary where breeders now work and they are self sufficient beekeepers now. In Dolaka, he was privelaged to visit a woman's kitchen and got to see bees that they keep in the wall of the kitchen and open up a little trap to get honey when they need it! We need these!!!

West Africa (Guinea/Kenya) has it's share of disadvantages: lack of equipment, lack of information, exposure to small AND large hive beetles, impoverished consumers. But advantages are willingness to change, no chemicals which gives them natural resistance to diseases and pests, inexpensive labor, lack of disease and pollution. When he first arrived, they were keeping bees in hives that were being set on fire to get the bees out and harvest the honey. He saw and showed pictures of Top Bar/Kenyan hives, and Tanzanian hives. He wound up working with Peace Corps volunteers in placing hives and helped bait and catch tons of swarms. They have extractors that are for non-framed combs and spin just like regular extractors but are just shaped differently.

In Egypt, he was disappointed to find that the people who had been keeping bees for 3,500 years have not been keeping up very well. The apiaries he saw were in disarray and very crowded. The mismanagement was terrible and sad and he was supposed to go back this year but the revolution held him back. About 4 years ago Egyptians started importing bees from Europe which came with European foulbrood which spread very quickly because the beekeepers didn't know how to handle the problems. The misunderstanding about the chemicals are really causing problems.

He then showed us some fun pictures from his travels and told us some great stories.

Great big old thanks to Ed for sharing some of his experiences with us, especially after he did 3 different apiary inspections today!!!

Sorry for typos, I'm trying to type fast and there doesn't seem to be a spell check in this program!!!! Hopefully it all makes enough sense!!! Thanks to Jim Pickett for letting me borrow his laptop to type these notes!

Meeting was adjourned just after 8pm.