Smart, Apimondia!

The day after the invasion started, a woman and her husband reached Lviv from a small city south of Kiev. The woman was suffering the late stages of cancer. She was weak and tired. Her husband helped her into the bus that would take them to the Polish border. She was strong in spirit, well, she used to be. Among her painkillers and vitamins, her bag held sunflower seeds that she would have planted in their garden in late March. They were a gift from her sister, a symbol of hope. She carried them with her, along with some photographs and papers they would need. The husband and wife were exhausted as the bus slowed near the border. It was there that all men under sixty said goodbye to the wives, mothers, children they had brought to safety. The men would go back to fight. For the first time since leaving Bila Tserkva, the woman cried.

The same day, but kilometres away, the rear axle broke on an old supply truck. The Russian boy-driver had tried rocking the machine in the muddy field, jamming forward and reverse when he heard the snap. He and his comrades climbed out. Drafted, they should have passed two horrible, but quiet, years as Russian soldiers doing drills and pretending to fire rifles. But a month ago, they were told they would be peace keepers along the Ukrainian border. They were assigned to the truck and sent west. Now they were in a war, in mud, in a field, out of food, low on water, with a truck that would never move again. They didn’t even know they were deep inside the country of Ukraine.

This war, started by a delusional autocrat, could bring nothing good – unless it leads to Putin’s disposal.

I’ve never been to Russia or Ukraine. I’ve spent many months in central Europe, right on Ukraine’s doorstep, but never inside either country. I would have loved to have seen beekeeping there. Russia has a long history of innovation and invention in beecraft. Apimondia’s World Congress was set to begin later this year in Russia and I was planning to attend. The last big Apimondia meeting was in Montreal. I was there – and even gave a talk (about the foraging range of honey bees) and set up a poster (about the expanding phenomenon of urban beekeeping). I met a lot of interesting folks, beekeepers of all sorts. Some were Russian. Some were Ukrainian.

A few hours ago, Apimondia, the huge international beekeepers’ and researchers’ organization, held an emergency session to decide whether or not to convene in Russia this year – they have cancelled it. Unfortunately, during the first hours of the invasion, the Apimondia World Congress first released this statement, which infuriated beekeepers everywhere:

So, the people operating the international congress this year saw the violent invasion of Ukraine as one of the “geopolitical problems of the world”. I suspect that it was the Russian organizing committee for the 2022 World Congress in Russia that released this statement. Did they really want to host a world bee meeting that would have been attended only by delegates from Belarus, Syria, and North Korea? The rest of us would have boycotted it.

Actually, I should have thought of boycotting this one even before the invasion. The mobsters running Russia get a cut (“protection money”) from almost every dollar spent in the country. It works like this. If you rent a hotel room, some of your money goes to gangsters who make sure the permits are renewed for the hotel the next year. They also make sure that firemen will show up in case of a fire. Those local political appointees who collect the special ‘taxes’ from the hotel pass some cash along to their bosses, some of that goes to the next one up in the chain, all the way to the richest person in the world, who controls a large army and a quarter-trillion dollar personal fortune (Seriously, almost $250,000,000,000).

If you want to help the victims in Ukraine, there are ways to get involved. Here in Canada, the federal government will match donations made to the Red Cross Ukrainian Emergency Fund. We contributed while our 15-year-old daughter took $100 out of her savings (she had worked at a farm last year) and gave it to the fund, knowing that it grew to $200 immediately and will help some kids escaping the tragedy. Canada has the third-highest number or people with Ukrainian ancestry in world (after Ukraine and Russia), so the invasion affects families of people we know.

It’s difficult and dangerous for Russians to protest the war, even though a large portion of Russia’s population is risking lives to oppose their president. Arnold Butov (below) is the political leader of Russia’s beekeepers, president of the National Union of Russian Beekeepers. Hopefully this kindly-looking gentleman will not suffer consequences because of the cancellation of Apimondia’s World Congress. It’s a sad situation for Russia’s beekeepers, but at least their cities are not on fire as in Ukraine.

So, we are happy that Apimondia leaders met at an emergency meeting today and voted anonymously to cancel the Russian venue. They are looking for another location, somewhere else in Europe. Probably not in Kiev.

About Ron Miksha

Ron Miksha is a bee ecologist working at the University of Calgary. He is also a geophysicist and does a bit of science writing and blogging. Ron has worked as a radio broadcaster, a beekeeper, and Earth scientist. (Ask him about seismic waves.) He's based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
This entry was posted in Culture, or lack thereof, History, Travels and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Smart, Apimondia!

  1. Pingback: Smart, Apimondia! - One-Bee-Store

  2. Reblogged this on Paul, East Sussex, England and commented:

    It was the only decision possible, of course.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good article Ron. We just send different stuff to Ukraine through a friend who lives here in England. It’s to support journalists, often freelancers, to be able to continue to report on the murders the Russian army conduct on Ukranian civilians, a systematic and deliberate tactic of terror ordered by Putin, and loyally followed by the Russian commanders. We all have to do what we can to oppose Putin, the biggest criminal leader after Hitler and Stalin.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. flamenco108 says:

    Ukrainian beekeeping is at the same time kinda old fashioned and inventive at the same time. Their devotion to work with bees is impressive. They have real masters of breeding their local breeds (like ukrainian steppe bee). You can watch their short films on youtube: (the whole apiary on several truck trailers) (old fashioned bee breeder and inventive carpenter) (beekeeping in traditional Ukrainian beehive) (proffesional, large apiary beekeeper in strange, reeds beehives)
    The rest, I’m sure, you can find by youtube’s proposals.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ron Miksha says:

      Thanks for sharing the list! Hope to watch them all soon!


    • I would love to go to Ukraine one day, and visit fellow beekeeper. One of my friends, also a journalist, visited Ukraine a couple of years ago, and wrote about the situation there (I helped him a little with the cover photo). He and I are in contact daily about the situation of his new friends in Ukraine. I haven’t been to Ukraine yet, but as I said, I would relly like to one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Ron,
    I initially wanted to reply but then deleted it. Just not enough time.
    Then I came across this YouTube video which best summarizes my take of

    All in all nothing is black and white. Its all grey in grey. Which side
    is greyer I don’t know. But things are certainly not as reported in the
    I listened to a free investigative journalist from Austria or Germany
    who had visited the region several times and was intimately familiar
    with the peoples in the region and their history and it painted a very
    different picture.
    The interview (audio) is in German so Google would not be able to
    translate it. It certainly would have been worth listening to.

    At times I wonder if Putin is worse than George W. and all the invasions
    the US had made and which just didn’t make it into the news.
    No doubt, Putin isn’t a choir boy. But neither are the Ukrainians.

    One account had it that Putin was pressured from w/in to take action to
    protect ethnic Russians in Eastern Ukraine who were bombed and shelled
    for years.
    France, Germany and was it the UK or the US have failed to deliver on
    their guarantees re. the Minsk Accord.
    He also jailed a number of the Oligarchs who were recklessly plundering
    Russia. And the same caste of Oligarchs is at work in the Ukraine, see
    Hunter Biden.

    And last but not least the Ukraine is said to be quite mineral rich
    which is why Hunter Biden has his fingers in the pie.

    But we likely will never, or very late, get a more complete picture.

    Just my thoughts,


    • Ron Miksha says:

      Wow, I didn’t think we’d find anyone reading this bee blog who is so protective of Putin. But there you go.
      You say that Putin “jailed a number of the Oligarchs who were recklessly plundering Russia.” Do you think Putin made his quarter of a trillion dollars keeping honey bees – or doing any other honest work? He jailed oligarchs who weren’t paying him enough ‘protection’ money or because they were honest.
      But thanks for backing your story up with the YouTube link of a video made in 2015 being shown on the “Alternative News Media Source.”
      What does one do with “break-away republics” when they start chasing out the Ukrainians living among them? You live in Canada. Would you be so kind to Quebec if its soldiers burned down homes of English-speaking people for fourteen years to force them to leave?
      Glad you recognize Putin is no choir boy, but what about the Ukrainian children being murdered for Putin’s glory?

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Alan Jones says:

    A thoughtful post Ron, I could weep with frustration and anger . How can one man cause so much havoc ?

    Liked by 1 person

    • flamenco108 says:

      Si vis pacem para bellum – too long peace in Europe, new generation of politicians had serious problem to believe, that such variant might be even possible. Nobody wanted to believe Poland, that Russia is a growing threat, they said, it’s Polish russophobia.

      I love to watch Ukrainian beekepers. I love to watch Russian (especially Siberian) beekeepers. It’s really sad, that perhaps for a long time the big country and nation will be ostracized, but what else to do?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ron Miksha says:

        Putin has to go. The oligarchs have to go. Corruption has to end. Democracy has to begin. Not until then will the Russian people be able to enjoy the safe and free lives that the best parts of the world have worked hard to keep.

        Liked by 1 person

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