A Curious Beekeeper thinks about beekeeping conferences

Beekeeping can be a solitary activity.

It is often a Zen and magical experience designed to be shared with others who “get” working with stinging insects!

Beekeeping gatherings are great. Club meetings and Open Hives. – They are wonderful chances to socialize and to learn.

Conferences – like the week long EAS (Eastern Apicultural Society) and Apimondia gatherings – both of which move around – are nirvana for beekeepers.

At EAS’s conference, there are vendors galore (you’ll get to meet Earl from Kelly Bees), watch candidates for the Master Beekeeper designation scurry from exam to exam, and hear from a variety of knowledgeable beekeepers on a ton of beekeeping topics. And socialize.

At the last EAS conference I attended, I scored an old Beekeeping Merit Badge Book in a silent auction. Maybe you’ll enter the honey competition, showing off your Mead. Or Wax, Or beekeeping Photos. Participation is what counts.

Same goes for Apimondia, except the international flavor of Apimondia does not include Master Beekeeper certification.

Of course there is talk of bees. Though even more important is the opportunity to interact with beekeepers from all over. The social events (both have banquets) give beekeepers the chance to rub shoulders with others who get it.

It wasn’t that many years ago at an EAS gathering that Al asked to sit at our table. Myself and the other Maine beekeepers at the table had an enjoyable evening though we didn’t realize at dinner that Al was short for Alphonse, one of the authors of The Beekeepers Handbook.

While every stranger won’t be a beekeeping celebrity, what you’ll quickly discover is that everyone there thinks bees are cool, and that they practice the somewhat mystical art of beekeeping. It doesn’t matter if you have one hive in the back yard or take 2,000 colonies to Almonds. Over coffee, or a beer, they are beekeepers.

The EAS Short Course and Conference is Greenville, South Carolina on July 15th – 19th. You’ll need your passport for Apimondia – it is in Montreal (Canada) on September 8th-12th.

Both conferences move around – EAS will be held in Orono, Maine next year The 2021 Apimondia (it is held every two years) will be in Ufa, Russia. The last two were in Turkey and South Korea – Montreal is likely as close as it will ever be.

It can be hard to imagine that there is a place at a National Conference like EAS for the new beekeeper but there certainly is. The short course that they talk about is a bee school on steroids, frequently taught collectively by Master Beekeepers.

I look forward to hearing Landi Simone (a frequent poster in this group) talk about feeding, and Dave Priebe talk about New Hampshire’s Honey Bee Diagnostic Network. I’m just a little curious about what they’re hiding just over the border from Maine!

By all means you should attend your state gatherings and field days, but if you can swing it, plan to attend these other events too!

Maybe you’ll carpool. Or take the train and discover that one of your fellow passengers is a beekeeper from your state! Maybe you’ll make friends with a commercial beekeeper from New Zealand. The happenings at a conference are hard to predict but almost always a wonderful time. See you there.

Andrew Dewey