Keepers swarm St. Louis for beekeeping conference at UMSL
St. Louis will be buzzing with beekeepers from around the state July 12-14 for the Heartland Apicultural Society. The three day conference, held at the University of Missouri St. Louis, will include instructional classes, hands on experiences and vendor displays.
Jane Sueme, director of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association, said since the discovery of colony collapse disorder in 2006, there has been much more funding for research. She also said that the increase in beekeeping in St. Louis has exploded in the past five years and increases the need for such a conference.
The decline in bee colonies has not gotten much better in the last few years, Sueme said, the losses are at around 30 percent every year.
According to Sueme, who is also a backyard beekeeper, commercial beekeepers feel the decline more than backyard beekeepers. She said this was because many commercial beekeepers primarily provide pollination services rather than selling honey. Migratory pollination practices involves shipping truckloads of beehives across the country to provide pollination for agriculture. This increases the stress for the bees and limits their diet, because they get one type of pollen and are moved many times.
Backyard beekeepers, Sueme said, help to keep a diverse genetic pool. If there are a lot of backyard beekeepers keeping healthy bees, the gene pool will remain diverse.
She said honey bees are the best natural pollinators for the type of farming that we do in 2012. Honey bees pollinate fruits, vegetables and nuts. Without honey bees, Sueme said we would be living on corn, wheat or soybeans.
The conference will offer introductory classes for beginning beekeepers, as well as advanced classes for experienced beekeepers. Speakers such as Marina Merchese, author of "HONEYBEE: Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper," Kim Flottum from Bee Culture Magazine, and Jerry Hayes from Monsanto and the American Beekeeping Journal, will be at the conference.
For more information and an event schedule, check out http://www.heartlandbees.com/. The Heartland Apicultural Society is a spin off of the Eastern Apicultural Society, which, with the Western Apicultural Society, seeks to educate beekeepers. The Heartland Apicultural Society is responsible for holding the beekeeping conference annually. This year's conference, will be held in St. Louis for the first time.