Friday, September 14, 2007

Day 8 – Third Day of the Congress:

Several commissions held plenary sessions this day. Chairman Gilles Ratia provided an overview of the Beekeeping Equipment standing commission’s activities. The keynote speaker, Dr. Jeff Pettis of the U.S. Department of Agriculture provided a discussion he characterized as thinking “inside the box,” most specifically, the honey bee box or hive. He related some research attempting to raise bees in a hiving situation more like natural homes in trees, most specifically looking at different nesting configurations with respect to placement of the entrance with reference to the bottom board of the modern bee hive. These revealed that entrances on the bottom board level might be re examined and exploration of higher entrances might be warranted.

Mr. Ratia provided a discussion of honey crystallization and how modern packing plants currently treat honey with respect to filtering, heating and packing the product. There are many things to consider here from concepts about flash heating to avoid production of hydroxmymethlyfurfural (HMF) and how handling the barrels differently (temperature during storage, positional shock due to shifting position) can influence crystallization. Other talks here included progress of the Varroa “mite zapper,” the round Hungarian hive and use in Brazil of a white colored veil (painted black inside and white outside), which reduces defensive behavior in Africanized honey bees.

Another symposium featured strategies in controlling American foulbrood. One participant noted that foulbrood was emphasized at this congress far more than in the past to the exclusion of other diseases, including Varroa mites. Foulbrood is the biggest problem in Australia as the country has no mites and the strategy to control it incorporates hive destruction by fire and increasingly the use of cobalt 60 radiation treatment. New Zealand is on its way to accomplish something few thought possible, the complete eradication of American foulbrood via a program of education and enforcement by the beekeeping community itself and not state regulators.

Finally, the bee flora standing commission featured a keynote presentation on the changing landscape for commercial pollination, which is slowly becoming the major rationale for beekeeping, and replacing the traditional basis, honey production. This has a different set of challenges and opportunities when it comes to managing bees. The Australian situation features this aspect; the main concern with respect to Varroa introduction on the national level is not its effect on honey production, but how it will impact pollination via devastation of feral bees. Thus, funding is more available for this kind of research than it might be otherwise.

An initial meeting of the Global Bee Breeders Initiative with representatives from Argentina, USA, Australia, New Zealand occurred that evening. A round table discussion provided impetus to move toward the establishment of a bee breeders association, somewhat modeled on the Honey International Packers Association that already is in operation Tasks that need to be done include establishing a mission statement and investigating the legal structure under which such an association might prosper. The vision is to ally it with two of Apimondia’s standing commissions, Bee Biology and Beekeeping Equipment.

There will be a meeting emphasizing global bee breeding sponsored by Apimondia in Neuvo Vallarta, Mexico 15-18 October 2008
or . Other international meetings advertised at the convention were the 9th Ibero Latinoamericano Congress in Chile in 9-13 July 2008 ,and the 9th Asian Apicultural Apicultural Association Conference in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China 1-4 November 2008 . In addition, there will be a Bee Safari in Turkey with Biyotematur 1-14 August 2008, concentrating on the Causcasian honey bee.

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