Beekeeping has become a very popular hobby in our region and beyond in the last few years. Beekeeping classes fill quickly, and several new beekeeping clubs have popped up in the area to keep hobbyists connected. What has been missing until now is an educational event focused entirely on the biology, care and support for the bees.
On Feb. 9, the Washington State Beekeepers Association will host its annual Pacific Northwest Beekeeping Conference at Eastern Washington University in Cheney. The conference will focus on both the scientific and general interest sides of beekeeping for hobbyist and commercial beekeepers.
According to Jenifer Priest, executive director of WASBA, honeybees are important because of the role they play in our food system.
“One in 3 bites of our food is there because of honeybees so it is important to maintain and improve their habitat and being a beekeeper is an important part of that.”
The keynote speaker for the conference will be Sarah Red-Laird, the founder and executive director of the Bee Girl Organization, an Ashland, Oregon-based nonprofit that aims to educate and inspire communities about conserving bees, their flowers and our food.
Bee Girl projects focus on regenerative beekeeping, bee habitat research and education, and kids’ programs. Red-Laird is a graduate of the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation with a degree in resource conservation with an emphasis on community collaboration and environmental policy. Red-Laird also serves as the kids and bees program director for the American Beekeeping Federation and is the incoming president of the Western Apicultural Society. She will speak on her work to get more people, especially children, involved in protecting and enhancing bee habitat and beekeeping.
Other speakers for the conference include several Washington State University, Eastern Washington University and University of Montana researchers. Waled Suliman will speak about pollen-based carbon microparticles as a new approach to protecting bees from pesticides. Kevin Oldenburg will speak on how the media gets wrong the science of bees. Brandon Hopkins will speak about controlling varroa mites in the hive. Lisa Devetter and Weixan Gan will speak on improving honey bee pollination in Washington blueberries. Jenifer Walke will speak on honeybee microbes and their influence on bee and colony health. Jerry Bromenshenk will present a new mobile app for bee pest and disease management.
On the practical side, Ari Alvarez of BeeManiacs will talk about making mead or honey wine. Mike Durst will speak on integrated pest management while Will Olson will speak on overwintering a hive. Lastly, Diane Stutzman of Desert Jewels Nursery will speak on bee-friendly native plants.
Other activities during the conference include a vendor fair featuring beekeeping equipment suppliers and community organizations from across the Northwest that promote beekeeping and habitat preservation and development, raffles for bee-themed prizes including an electric honey extractor and an after-conference social at the Mason Jar in Cheney. The social will feature honey-themed food and drink.
Pat Munts, of Spokane Valley, is co-author of “Northwest Gardener’s Handbook” with Susan Mulvihill. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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