Beekeepers share the craft of handling and caring for honey bees through educational associations at the local, state, and regional levels. Typically, local associations cover an area of one or more counties and meet monthly with programs devoted to beekeeping activities as they change throughout the year. Our local group, the Memphis Area Beekeepers Association, meets monthly in Memphis and has membership across portions of three states, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Arkansas. State-wide beekeeping associations typically meet once a year in the fall after the honey harvest for an educational program which often includes beekeeping expert speakers brought in from outside the state. Rita and I recently traveled to the mountains of northern Arkansas for the Arkansas Beekeepers Association's annual meeting. Next, we traveled to the hills of Middle Tennessee to attend the Tennessee Beekeepers Association's annual conference. Speakers at both of these meetings covered topics of honey bee health. Beekeepers honed their beekeeping craft skills by participating in honey show events. The manufacturers of bee hive equipment brought their products to demonstrate to beekeepers. Many attended the conferences to meet with friends that they only see once a year.
The topics discussed at the meetings included new trends in beekeeping that move away from the use of chemicals. Other presentations featured the marketing of honey and bee hive products and reports on research being conducted on honey bee health. Rita and I have served as officers of both the Memphis Area and Tennessee beekeeping organizations. I am concluding my service as president of the TBA. Today's photo shows a honey bee collecting nectar from the blue-colored flowers of vitex. Vitex is a large shrub or small tree which blooms throughout the end of summer and into the fall when few flowering plants can be found by the honey bees.