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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Beekeepers Invited to Have a ‘Day Out’ in Canterbury

While Apiculture New Zealand’s (ApiNZ) national conference in Rotorua in June is once again set to be the most well attended event on the New Zealand beekeeping calendar, South Island beekeepers will have the option of getting together closer to home this month in a similarly-shaped gathering.

Attendees to the 2021 Beekeepers’ Day Out at Lincoln University gather in the trade display area. This year’s event, May 21, will follow a similar structure of expert presentations, industry updates, trade displays, catered food and spot prizes.

Following successful events in previous years, the ApiNZ Canterbury Hub is once again hosting their Beekeeper’s Day Out at Lincoln University in Canterbury, Sunday May 21, and inviting all beekeepers, with many hives or few, to attend. With finances pinching many beekeepers, it will likely prove a welcome alternative to travelling north to the national conference for some.

The one-day event in the Stewart building of the university will act as a type of mini-conference, with a trade display area, spot prizes, silent auction and a programme of presentations and speakers across a range of topics including; honey bee health, honey market updates, sustainability in beekeeping, American foulbrood (AFB) management and even beekeeper health.

Dr Phil Lester of Victoria University of Wellington will update beekeepers on some of their latest work on controlling varroa populations using ‘gene silencing’ on May 21 at Lincoln University.

“With the national conference being held in Christchurch last year, we didn’t hold the Beekeepers’ Day Out,” organising committee member Carolyn McMahon says.

“So, it’s been a few years and we are hoping for a good turnout. The interest certainly seems to be out there, driven by some major issues affecting our industry – honey prices, varroa management and bee health, in general, being at the forefront of beekeepers’ minds.”

Similar events in previous years at Lincoln have been well attended, with about 120 people attending the Beekeepers Day Out in 2021. So, the structure of this winter’s event will be much the same as those before.

Among the speakers at the May 21 gathering will be Dr Phil Lester, who will detail one of Victoria University of Wellington’s latest research projects.

“We have been working on a new approach to varroa control in beehives,” Lester explains.

Our approach uses a technique called ‘gene silencing’, which in this case targets and inhibits mite reproduction. I’ll discuss results from our laboratory and field trials where our results are encouraging.”

Canterbury beekeeper James Malcolm is also scheduled to speak about his Natural New Zealand Honey business’s efforts towards sustainability and what beekeepers can do to operate more sustainably. ApiNZ policy analyst Phil Edmonds will provide an update on the Honey Market Strategy programme which is nearing a conclusion, while industry groups Trees for Bees, Betta Bees, the Christchurch Hobbyist Beekeepers’ Club and the AFB Management Agency are also be on the ‘bill’, amongst others

One of those others is Josh Komen, a former top New Zealand middle-distance runner and cancer survivor, now motivational speaker, who will address attendees about embracing challenges and “sparking hope”.

“Mike King was well received at the national conference last year when he spoke about mental health. So, with Josh, we will break up some of the beekeeping presentations with something a bit different, but still of benefit,” McMahon says.

The event will appeal to anyone with an interest in beekeeping, both commercial and hobby beekeepers, the organiser believes, and she encourages the beekeeping community to attend, learn and be heard.

The Beekeepers’ Day Out runs from 8.30am to 5pm, tickets are $75 for ApiNZ members, $85 for non-members, and include catered morning and afternoon tea and lunch. More details and tickets available at www.apinz.org.nz/clubs-and-hubs/canterbury-hub/.





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