When beekeepers converge

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You may or may not recall that back in November I made my annual pilgrimage to the 2015 meeting of the Maine State Beekeepers’ Association. I didn’t have time to write about it then, but I’m here now to tell you what a fabulous time I had that day. And also to announce the start of my upcoming series of articles relaying the presentations from that day. I hope you’re as excited as I am!

Honestly, I couldn’t afford to spend money on a ticket for the conference this year, and it was only thanks to the generosity of friends within the Maine beekeeping community that I was able to attend. My friends the Cronkhites─Roy Sr and Roy Jr─generously invited me to be their guest, paid my way in, and even picked me up and dropped me back at home again that night. Roy Cronkhite Jr was the former president of the Kennebec Beekeepers’ group; he and his father came to a couple of meetings with the Somerset Beekeepers and his group and mine have shared open-hive events in the past. The elder Cronkhite, Roy Sr, has been beekeeping for more than 40 years and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Both of the Cronkhite men are gentlemanly and kind, honest and humble, salt-of-the-Earth types and it was my pleasure to accompany them to the annual meeting.

bee whispererThe 2015 meeting was hosted by the Penobscot chapter of the MSBA, at the Hampden Academy in Hampden, Maine. There was the usual bustle as folks arrived and helped themselves to the continental breakfast provided. The Cronkhites and I were invited to join Carol and Jim Cottrill, along with another couple. Carol has been active within the MSBA for years and years, as a former president of the Western Maine Beekeepers Association, and then as the president of the MSBA itself. This year she was scheduled to be one of the speakers for the days’ events.

The MSBA had recruited Mike Palmer of French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans, Vermont to come for the annual conference. He would be giving 2 talks; the first was entitled: Keeping Bees in Frozen North America, and the second: The Sustainable Apiary─Brood Factories and Bee Bombs.

Also listed on the agenda were Peter Cowin, president of the Penobscot County Beekeepers and also Maine’s reknown “Bee Whisperer”, who would be speaking about his apiary project with the Hampden Academy. 2 university students working under Frank Drummond were slated to present their research, then Tony Jadczak (our state apiarist) would present his analysis of Maine’s 2015 beekeeping season, followed by Carol Cottrill with her presentation about beeswax.

In the middle of it all there’s the MSBA business and elections, the MSBA’s lifetime acheivement award, and the beekeeper of the year award, as well as lunch and honey tasting.

The ever extensive beekeepers’ raffle wraps up the day. It’s always a splurge for me to buy $20 worth of raffle tickets, and I learned quickly to make them count by picking 1 or 2 of the raffle items that I wanted most and putting all of my tickets there. That was how I won my Merrill tool box a couple of years ago, and I love my tool box!

msba raffleThis year though I couldn’t splurge on raffle tickets. The Cottrills though, Carol and Jim, didn’t want for me to be left out and they gifted me a string of raffle tickets. It is so wonderful to have found some friends within the beekeeping community, and I know I’m lucky to have them.

They say that it’s when you’re at your lowest that you find out who your true friends really are. 2015 was probably about the lowest I’ve ever been─and Ive had some pretty rough years!─but I’ve found myself surrounded by some truly wonderful, caring and kind people. I think that over the last year of struggles and trials, that has been proven to me over and over again and as a result I have come to value friendship more than ever before. I am grateful for the people in my life, they fill my heart with love and joy and compel me to keep going─to keep chasing after this crazy dream of farming and beekeeping.

To read about Mike Palmer’s first presentation entitled: Keeping Bees in Frozen North America, click here. I have 6 articles in this series, so check back every week for a new one. There was lots to learn at the MSBA conference!!!

One thought on “When beekeepers converge

  1. Mickey L

    I’m looking forward to reading these articles. I have no knowledge/experience with bees or beekeeping, but I want to learn some basics. It’s something I think I’d like to do, but am very intimidated by it all. So I’ll be reading your experiences! 🙂
    PS. I’m nearly out of my salve. It’ hasn’t cleared up my troubles, but it sure is soothing!

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