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Important Events

On November 19th and 20th, the U. S. Department of Agriculture Division of ARS, Agricultural Research Service hosted a "special" meeting at the Holiday Inn in College Park, MD. Its purpose was for the scientists of ARS to hear from representatives of ALL SEGMENTS of our honey bee industry of just what our needs are in the promotion of crop pollination. There were 30 speakers representing almost every phase of beekeeping, including honey producers, pollinators, queen breeders, package bee suppliers, the farm bureau, researchers, and scientists. The American Beekeepers Federation whose members are "on the front line" of bee problems was well represented by their outgoing and incoming Presidents plus Executive Director, Troy Fore. Because of intertwining of crop pollination with honey production, the talks covered many phases of the bee industry including our problems with disease, pests, honey adulteration, imported honey prices, queen and bee shipping problems, arbitrary state laws, etc.

I was there as an invited guest as was my bee partner, Ann Harman, and I assume we were asked because of my long scientific interest in honey bees and research and Ann's long interest in the betterment of beekeeping through EAS, which she serves as Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors. I felt quite honored to be included with this wild array of eminent beekeepers and highly skilled professional scientists.

The afternoon session was broken down into participation in one of three different critical issue groups to determine those points that were deemed most critical and hence urgently needed scientific help. Those three groups were:

  1. Bee Management
  2. Pollination
  3. Pest Management

Because of my long work in trying to upgrade beekeeper's knowledge about good management and proper techniques, I became part of the Bee Management group where I was able to make the point that perhaps our major problem today is queen improvement in the face of lack of quality drones. After much discussion and overnight thought, the next day my points regarding queens was selected as the Number One critical issue, and I was humbled.

The most important feeling I had of the entire meeting was that ALL attendees were not there for fun or to be seen, but were there with a purpose. I left with a feeling that the scientists had TRULY listened to the needs of beekeeping, and our government might give us some positive help in the future!

George Imirie
Certified EAS Master Beekeeper