There’s a lot of buzz in the Okanagan.
The B.C. Honey Producers Association will hold its annual general meeting, conference and trade show at the Best Western Hotel in Kelowna from today until Sunday.
“The conference will feature 15 guest speakers drawn from across Canada and the U.S. tackling the challenges and addressing innovations,” said Keith Rae, a Vernon resident and an event organizer.
“The trade show will be filled with industry representatives supplying products and services for all of those involved.”
The conference itself is limited to BCHPA members but the trade show is open to the public Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Residents can also attend the hour-long introduction to beekeeping workshops Sunday at 1 p.m. or 2 p.m.
“Come learn more about the basics of beekeeping and how you can have a hive of your own,” said Rae.
The cost of the workshop is $15 payable at the door. To sign up for the workshop, go to www.HiveandThrive.com
One of the issues that will be discussed at the conference is the death rate among honey bees.
“These unsung pollinators are the unpaid labourers of our agricultural system. Beekeepers, who are part farmers and part scientists, have been struggling to understand what is causing mass colonies of bees to die or disappear,” said Rae.
Beekeepers wage a war with bacterial and viral diseases, ever adapting parasites and environmental factors that are attacking local bee populations.
“Winter losses of five to 15 per cent are predictable but recently, high rates of loss over 50 per cent have been reported that are unexplained by the weather,” said Rae.
“Combine these factors with the increased use of pesticides, herbicides and industrial pollutants; the bee population faces an uphill challenge for survival.”
But Rae says the Okanagan has a thriving community of beekeepers who are dedicated to improving the odds for bees.
“These beekeepers range from large commercial operations with thousands of hives, to part-time sideliners with up to 100 hives, down to backyard hobbyists with one or two hives.”
Beekeepers also produce a wide variety of products from their hives.