Best Bee Club in the World? Attended the Calgary & District Beekeepers Association monthly meeting last night, and as I drove home in the ten o’clock twilight, my mind recycled some of what I had learned. There was an absolutely stellar presentation on spring management – focused mostly on ways to make splits, or increases. The two gentlemen knew what they were talking about and their enthusiasm was infectious. Part of the discussion was around the 2-queen systems which were praised in every way except one – here in southern Alberta, 2-queen management leads to hives making four or five hundred pounds of honey – hives get stacked so high with supers that they are hard to manage. Other than that, it was pointed out that for the price of an extra queen, the producer may double their crop, reduce swarming, and with the variation of genetic make-up in the hive, improve the hive’s wintering and its house-cleaning habits. There was plenty of talk around the mechanics of making nucs, too. In a sentence: pull two or three frames of brood (without taking the queen) from the best hives (which reduces swarming) and add two or three frames of young bees from brood combs, drive off to a new location a few miles away, and put a caged queen into the newly created split. The result, at this time of year, is a producing colony.
So, there was good, practical advice for Calgary-area beekeepers. But I was equally impressed with the huge number of committees and activities sponsored by the bee club. This is the time of year for swarms, so there is a swarm committee. School bee presentations were addressed by the relevant folks. Beekeeping displays were at the annual science fair, several regional country fairs, Aggie Days, and will be at the Calgary Stampede. Honey judging at the Millarville Fair in August and the Chestermere Fair in September require honey judges and their training and recruitment are club responsibilities. There are committees that liaison with the city. The bee club is involved with a research project at a local college (South Alberta Institute of Technology) and is designing a steam-wax press for rendering old combs for the club’s members. Informally, some members loan extractors to other members. A group in the bee club sent delegates to pick up packages and queens from importers and there is a group that sends equipment for irradiation treatment. Classes in queen rearing and disease inspection are regular events as is the annual summer BBQ. There are monthly formal meetings for the 100 members (65 were at last night’s meeting) and there are casual get-togethers for beer and pizza at the veteran’s hall in Kensington. There is much to admire about this group.