Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bee porn, slutty queens and vegetarianism...

We had three speakers at the fall Massachusetts Bee Meeting - a queen breeder, a researcher who studies queen quality among other things, and Harvard profession who studies public health.

What a great day! One of the speakers was late so we heard both talks by the Joe Latshaw (http://www.latshawapiaries.com/). While he produces queens for commercial beekeepers and works on a scale that is way beyond my wildest dreams, he explained to us - hobbyist beekeepers - how to use what he's learned and some of his techniques to become our own queen breeders on a small scale. What I took away from Joe's talks is that I need to think about the sustainability of my own apiary and I now have the tools (ok at least the directions) to select and rear my own queens to make that happen. Joe also stressed keeping records. This resonated with the scientist in me!

Our second speaker was Alex Lu from Harvard. He titled his talk "Putting your health in your hands" and was a great talk. I can see how much of what he spoke about being applicable to my hives - preventative care is way less expensive and more sustainable than treatment. I love the reminder to eat vegetarian before 6pm - save the world and your body by consuming less meat which contains high levels of chemicals and antibiotics.

The final speaker was David Tarpy from North Carolina State University. He explained why we need genetic diversity in our bee yards and that slutty queens are better. On average, honey bee queens mate with a dozen drones - but some will mate with that many in one day and still go out the next day for more! He showed us a great video of a queen on her nuptial or mating flight. Wow - bee sex is brutal and a one shot deal for the drone! Aside the idea that more is better for the queen, I learned a great deal about the reproductive health of honeybee queens. They are pretty amazing girls!

Bee meetings are great for socializing with other beekeepers too. I got to sit with two of the other beekeepers in Millbury - always a good time!

1 comment:

Thanks for visiting and checking on the bees!
Let me know what you are thinking...