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  • Writer's picturePatrick Dawkins

Randy Oliver to Jet in for Three-Day Beekeeping Conference

Beekeepers need a good get together every winter, and they certainly need any help they can get controlling varroa mites, say organisers of The Beekeepers Conference, coming to Wanganui August 11-13. With that in mind, world-renown “scientific beekeeper” Randy Oliver is swopping in to attend in person, present some of his findings, and facilitate discussion.

The ‘Scientific Beekeeper’, Randy Oliver of California, will be touching down in Wanganui for The Beekeepers Conference in August.

With a little over a month until launch of the three-day event at the Wanganui Racecourse, hosts Southern North Island Beekeeping Group (SNIBG) is encouraging beekeepers from all over to reach out and request a registration pack.

While the full programme of speakers and events are not yet finalised, discussions will centre around varroa management, and Oliver will address the event on all three days, Sunday to Tuesday. There will also be a trade display, and a sponsors evening on the Monday.

Conference organiser and SNIBG secretary Frank Lindsay says they were disappointed when Apiculture New Zealand cancelled their usual multi-day event in 2024, “so we have picked up the ball really”.

“Conference is generally the time beekeepers get together and talk, and solve problems. It is the one time you get together where you can discuss things and work out things with other beekeepers,” Lindsay says.

With varroa being such a pressing issue, controlling the mite will feature heavily. Day one, Sunday August 11, is titled ‘All About Varroa – Skills/Tools/Systems’, while Monday’s programme will centre around Oliver’s advice on how to find that one resistant hive and breed from it. Day three will be future focused, with a look to research and what help might be on the horizon for beekeepers.

Beekeepers at the 2014 national conference, which was also in Wanganui.

“Looking at 2022-23 Colony Loss survey, if you add together the losses from winter and autumn you are getting up towards 30 percent, which is the same as every other country really. It goes to show that some of the varroa treatments are not working. They might be knocking down some mites, but not to the levels you expect,” Lindsay says.

The event will be “an open forum” to allow attendees to pose questions to those on the microphone as they go.

“Randy will be visiting and talking for a long time. We are not limiting him to just one, one-hour presentation. We will also be allowing questions and answers as we go. This means beekeepers pick up the information as they go, rather than wait until the end when they may have lost questions.”

With tickets priced at $100 per day for those who belong to any industry group or club, $140 for unaffiliated attendees, and $300/400 for all three days, the event is being run to break even, but not make a profit, the organisers say.


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