September

Wow what a month for all things bee! It has been a long time since I posted and it isn’t because I was taking a break. Far from it! This month saw me travel to Montreal, Quebec and Raleigh, North Carolina to immerse myself in expanding my bee education. I’ve also been busy trouble-shooting with my beehive, and family life has gone back to the often hectic pace with 2 of the kids back at school and needing to juggle extra-curriculars, homework and get togethers with friends.

So it all started with a NINE hour drive to Montreal. It wouldn’t normally take more than six hours but, you know, kids. There were many stops along the way but overall I am blessed with great car travelers and so though the trip was long, it was pretty easy with only the occasional “are we there yet?”. And so we arrived at our hotel late into the evening on Saturday, a day ahead of the greatest honey bee conference I could ever have imagined. I spent most of the Sunday touring around Old Montreal with the kids – we had a wonderful brunch at a trendy vegan restaurant, and enjoyed a massive ropes course that stretched between 2 reconstructed pirate ships and bounced in so many bouncy castles down on the Quay. As afternoon came to a close I headed over to the conference center for the opening ceremonies of Apimondia.

I had first heard of this conference last year at my local provincial beekeeping association’s annual general meeting. It was mentioned that Apimondia was usually held overseas and this was an uncommon event to have it here in North America. I made up my mind in that moment that I had to attend but I did not really know what to expect. To say I was blown away was an understatement! There were approximately six THOUSAND people in attendance, from 80 countries, all there because of a love of bees! I spent the next four days attending talks on a variety of topics, but mainly I focused on the ones concerning bee health. I learnt so much and met some truly incredible people. It was an experience I do not think I will ever forget! And after the conference was finished I got to spend an extra day in Montreal with the kids before the very long drive home.

I was home for a few days before my next adventure was set to begin so I stopped by to check on my bees. I was heartbroken to see what looked to me to be bald-faced hornets buzzing around the hive. They seemed to be congregating on the ground under my hive stand (though to my knowledge bald-faced hornets normally build nests a few feet above the ground). Either way they were flying up to the entrance and tussling with my bees and trying to get in the front door before being chased away. The bottom hive entrance already had a reducer in place, but I changed it so that only the smallest entrance was open. I put a reducer over the circular entrance in the bottom box with an opening too small for the hornets to fit through. And the circular entrance in the top box I stuffed closed with a bit of newspaper. I then stood and watched the interaction for awhile. The hornets were landing near the entrance but no longer even bothering to approach – with the entrance smaller there was a bit of a traffic jam of bees coming and going, leaving not much opportunity for a hornet to get in there. Even so I went back the following day to sit and watch the entrances for a bit and happily the hornets were not even bothering with the hive at all – they were coming and going but seemed to be ignoring the hive that sat above them.

This looks like 2 bald-faced hornets to me. They are hanging out in the grass below my beehive.

After 5 days at home I packed up my luggage again, and left my hive and my kids at home, to travel to Raleigh, North Carolina for the Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium Annual Conference. I had gone to the conference last year and loved it so much that I decided to join the board as the President elect, and I had the great honour of being the conference chair this year. It was many months of coming up with lecture topics, arranging speakers and finding sponsorship and it was finally time to see it all come together. I had an amazing time and once again met some incredible people. I love to sit and listen to people talk about bees and I love to be able to be part of the conversation. It was over before I knew it and I was on the plane back home, excited and my head swirling with ideas about planning the 2020 conference.

Traffic at the front door is busy on this beautiful September day now that the entrance has been reduced to help prevent robbing.

And before I knew it September was over. Fall has officially begun, and there have been some pretty chilly mornings. The goldenrod is finishing up and soon there will not be much forage left for my bees. Time is running out to get them ready for winter and I hope they are strong enough to pull through. In the meantime I sit and reflect on how much has changed for me over the past year – I have worked on some pretty great bee projects, learned so much, and am loving trying my “veil” at beekeeping. And I have so much to look forward to in the year to come. I am starting to forge relationships and have great conversations about veterinarians entering the field of apiculture and I am excited for the seasons and changes to come!

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