A two-day beekeeping conference is being held at the University of Waikato on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 February and is open to all members of the public with an interest in beekeeping.
President of the Waikato branch of New Zealand Beekeeping Inc. and conference programme organiser Jane Lorimer has been a beekeeper for 30 years. Her husband Tony is also a beekeeper, and together they own Hillcrest Apiaries in Tamahere. “Bees are fascinating insects,” Jane says. “They produce various types of pheromones to stimulate specific behaviours and to effectively communicate with each other. The queen in particular can regulate the hive by releasing pheromones that stop the all-female worker bees from developing ovaries and reproducing.”
The conference will feature topics ranging from sustainable beekeeping, hive maintenance and diseases impacting on the health of the beehive, to queen rearing techniques and even sniffer dog demonstrations. Sniffer dogs, like the ones at airports, are taught to distinguish certain scents such as the smell associated with American Foulbrood - the most widespread and destructive of the bee brood diseases. “A trained dog walking around the hives is able to indicate when it has identified the smell of American Foulbrood,” Jane says. “Then it’s up to the beekeeper to look at the hive closely and to take further samples of bees to get a positive or negative result. If we find visual symptoms of the disease, we have to destroy the hive, as we’re trying to eliminate the disease out of New Zealand.”
Jane is confident that both commercial and hobby beekeepers will find the conference very interesting. Researcher Ashley Mortensen is a guest speaker travelling from the US to give a presentation on the correlation between rearing environment and bee behaviour.
With over 100 lecture rooms and six purpose-built venues, the University of Waikato offers full event services options for conferences, workshops and meetings. You can find more information about our venue and meeting packages on our website.