The following is brought to us by the American Bee Journal 10/4/13
The conference held symposiums on a handful of main topics: Bee Biology, Economy, Technology and Quality, Health, Pollination, Beekeeping for Rural Development and Apitherapy. Roundtable sessions took place in smaller, side auditoriums and addressed Beekeeping Science in Ukraine, Organic Beekeeping, GMO and Global Market, Pesticides and Honey Adulteration. Interesting talks were held in both styles of venue, but the popularity of some of these roundtable sessions showed these topics to be of a growing concern to beekeepers around the world.
Perhaps the most enjoyed speech of the event came by one of the keynote speakers, Dr. Tom Seeley of Cornell University, author of the recent book Honeybee Democracy. He spoke about his research on wild A. mellifera colonies in upstate New York, showing that European honey bees can survive without chemical treatments for varroa. Dr. Seeley's hypothesis for this included small cavity size and colony size, production of drone comb, nesting above ground level, natural swarming and a broodless period to reduce mite populations and their relative isolation. “The way we keep bees isn't bee friendly” Seeley said, referring to large yards of bees, “Bees can drift, diseases spread.”
Sadly this conference was marred by a plethora of technical and organizational issues, often causing attendees to vent their frustration rather than discuss expected Apis topics. During the first two days massive registration lines stretched out the door and many people had to wait upwards of six hours in 'adverse weather conditions,' as Apimondia President Gilles Ratia put it. On Monday morning a number of the talks were canceled due to the speakers' inability to register in time. Rumors of scrum-like fights in the registration line and abuse of poor, overworked volunteers persist.
At their biannual meeting the Apimondia delegates gave green lights to their budget and work plan for the next two years, citing their main focus to be the promotion of bee health in today's intensive agricultural climate. In his speech at the closing ceremonies, President Ratia declared Apimondia to “support 100%” the European Food Safety Authority's stance on neonicotinoids and spoke strongly about the worry of beekeeping and GMOs.
Following Ratia's speech, the presidents of the regional commissions presented their goals for the following two years. Mr. Mulufird Ashagrie, head of African commission promoted the first ever Apimondia Symposium on African Bees and Beekeeping in 2014. Mr. José Gomercindo Corrêa da Cunha, leader of the North and South Americas, stressed the importance of addressing neonicotinoids for the health of bees. Dr. Cleofas Cervancia of Asia spoke of measures to prevent introduction of invasive species to her continent and Ms. Maureen Maxwell of Oceania (tropical Pacific Island region) vowed to focus on international harmonization of honey standards to curb adulteration. Finally, Phillip McCabe of the European commission, addressed the need to promote beekeeping and spoke of Europe's efforts with their annual International Meeting of Young Beekeepers.
The conference concluded with a vote to decide the host for the 2017 Congress, and Bulgaria, Sweden, Italy and Turkey gave strictly regulated two-minute presentations promoting their countries. With a campaign starting two years ago and a superb presence at this year's event, Turkey won more than half of the delegates' 236 votes and Apimondia 2017 will take place in Istanbul. But that wasn't their only reason for celebration – Turkey also came away with the World Honey Queen title. The plastic red and white flags waved long into the chilly night.
Photos by William Blomstedt
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