President’s message (April 2018)

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If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages
Think of all the things we could discuss.
If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could talk to us.
by Leslie Bricusse

Roger the dog is stamping his front paws and wuffing at me. He has my attention but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what he is trying to tell me. There is no app yet that will translate doggerel into English. There is, however, an earbud on the market now that you can insert and it will translate other languages into English, thus eliminating the job of a human translator. And there is an app for your phone that is now under development at the University of Montana that will translate the humming of bees in your hive into useful information for you. Having captured the sounds of hives suffering from mites, AFB, Nosema and other health threats, researchers have been able to build an app called Bee Health Guru. No need to open the hive, the phone is able to pick up the sounds from the hive entrance and distinguish a healthy hive from an unhealthy one and even diagnose the problem!

Imagine – the bees can indeed talk to us. As for Roger, I could ignore him, but he is so intent in his communication that I have to keep guessing until one day I will get it. I have the tiniest of nucs remaining as the last vestiges of winter clutch at the buds in my neighbourhood. I have seen the capped brood suggesting the next seasonal generation is imminent and I am crossing my fingers that they will make it. Other keepers have lost all their hives this past winter and are waiting for new nucs and packages to begin again, and learn from this past year. Some of our club members are supplying nucs from warmer climes and some are producing queens and nucs here on the Island. Bee ready and get yours because the next thing we will be worrying about will be swarms.

Our April meeting will include, Dave McDonald, one of our bee inspectors giving a beginner’s overview of queen rearing. It’s a complex topic in which some of our members specialize so Dave promises to keep it simple and leave the more complex questions to the courses offered during the season.

We will continue with our theme of Healthy Bees – Healthy Hives and spend a little more time on mite control in spring and, of course, we can pay much greater attention to the many plants in bloom.

A couple of club members will be missing from the April meeting in order to make the annual trek on our behalf to the Iotron service in Richmond. It is the least expensive way to irradiate your empty equipment and make it disease-free for the coming season. Thank you to Alanna Morbin for coordinating this year’s trip.

Each month, we hold our beginners’ corner downstairs from 6:30pm to 7:00pm before our main meeting. I would like to thank Bob Liptrot for informally gathering the intermediate beekeepers into conversation in the main hall as they share questions and answers.

On another note, I would like to thank Edan North who has represented our club and the clubs here on Vancouver Island that are part of the BCHPA. While most of our members are small-scale beekeepers, we benefit from the work of our provincial organization and Edan sat on the tele-conference calls and provided quarterly contributions to BeeScene magazine.

While many members have lamented the loss of hives over this past winter, it is time to rebuild and start over with lessons learned. See you at our meeting on Thursday April 12th.

PS. I took my first sting of the season, right in the chin, as I added syrup to the feeder. I think the bees are trying to tell me something.

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