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Sunday, September 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Gardening: Webinar series on beekeeping, heritage apples begin in October

A swarm of bees congregate on a tree branch June 23 in Nine Mile Falls. A swarm commonly occurs when a colony of honeybees becomes too large for their current nest. Often, a swarm of bees will use tree branches as a hold-over as scout bees search for a more permanent location for the colony to build a nest. The Washington Sate Beekeepers Association is holding an online conference Oct. 3-4.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
A swarm of bees congregate on a tree branch June 23 in Nine Mile Falls. A swarm commonly occurs when a colony of honeybees becomes too large for their current nest. Often, a swarm of bees will use tree branches as a hold-over as scout bees search for a more permanent location for the colony to build a nest. The Washington Sate Beekeepers Association is holding an online conference Oct. 3-4. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Pat Munts For The Spokesman-Review

One of the silver linings of going virtual because of COVID-19 is that many conferences are much more accessible. There’s a registration fee (sometimes) but you don’t have to buy gas, make hotel reservations or spend money on restaurants. All you have to do is log on to your computer to listen to some amazing often world-renowned speakers. Two local, now-virtual events of interest to gardeners are available for registration.

For those of you interested in beekeeping, the Washington State Beekeepers Association is holding its annual conference virtually the weekend of Oct. 3-4. For those of you who are interested in learning more about heritage apples, a consortium of universities and heritage apple research organizations, led by the University of Idaho, is hosting the Heritage Apple Conference monthly series of webinars through April 2020. The beekeepers conference is $65. The Heritage Apple Conference is free.

Beekeeping has become a popular hobby as people learn about the importance of honeybees in the environment and in our food system. But beekeeping takes some education and experience to succeed.

This year’s virtual conference will feature speakers on topics of interest to both hobbyists and commercial beekeepers including varroa mite management and research, research being conducted at the new WSU Honey Bee and Pollinator Research, Extension, and Education Facility in Othello, Washington, beekeeping as a business and the challenges of creating bee forage pasture in the Northwest.

As part of the conference, participants will be able to visit informally with the speakers and take part in fundraiser auction . All proceeds from the conference will go to WSU Honey Bee and Pollinator Facility.

To register for the conference and to check out the auction, go to: accelevents.com/e/WASBA2020PacificNorthwestBeekeepingConference.

Interest in old apple varieties is growing across the Northwest and across the world. We commonly find only a few dozen varieties available at the store. In reality, there are thousands of apple varieties out there and many of them have been “lost” through time and changing cultural uses. Locally, Dave Benscoter and his team from the Lost Apple Project have found over a dozen lost varieties in Eastern Washington in the past five years.

Last year, Benscoter teamed up with other heritage apple researchers from universities and organizations across the West for the first Heritage Apple Conference held at the University of Idaho’s Organic Research Center in Sandpoint. This year they are taking the conference virtual as a nine-month series of webinars that are free to the public. The series will draw university researchers, orchardists, hobbyists and others. Speakers will include experts from Washington, Oregon, Maine, Wyoming and Montana.

Speakers will address apple identification using DNA; apples as we know them today and their historic uses; the histories of apples and people behind them; community-based apple conservation efforts; restoration pruning; grafting techniques; and perennial fruits of California’s Northern Sierra Gold Rush era. More information about the conference and registration is available online at uidaho.edu/cals/sandpoint-organic-agriculture-center/conference.

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