By the time I made my presentation to 150 new beekeepers at the Memphis Area Beekeepers Association’s Forty-Seventh Annual Short Course in Beekeeping, I was already packed for my next assignment. Speaking to the enthusiastic Tennessee, Arkansas, and Mississippi beekeepers about different approaches to keeping colonies healthy, I explained that some beekeepers reacted to the invasion of parasitic mites in the mid-1980s by attempting to kill the pests with chemical miticides. The result of this approach was a temporary control followed by an evolution to a heartier strain of mites resistant to the chemicals. I told the new beekeepers that some individuals took no steps to control the parasitic mites, and that their colonies usually dwindled and died after about two years. I proposed that the beekeepers adopt an Integrated Pest Management approach to beekeeping designed to strengthen the bees and weaken the pests while using a minimum of chemicals in the bee hives. I explained that our goal should be to evolve strains of honey bees that are capable of living in the presence of pests that, once introduced into our area, are surely here to stay. The reception from the audience was positive. Many are entering into beekeeping with a desire to be environmentally responsible, and they seek a way of effectively managing bees without relying upon chemical agents to control honey bee pests. An individually designed IPM plan offers them a workable solution. In today’s photo Adam Power and Sam Mardis demonstrate building bee hive frames.
Leaving Memphis’ short course, I turned my attention to my next beekeeping teaching assignment far from home. I had been invited to travel to Africa to train beekeepers in techniques for producing additional products from the bee hive. The voyage would take me to areas I never expected to see. It would provide me with great insights into the capabilities of people who live close to the land and rely upon the honey bee to harvest the resources of the forest.--Richard