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Check out the “buzz” around beekeeping in the 2021 MBA Virtual Spring Conference

Published: Mar. 8, 2021 at 10:33 AM EST
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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - MSU Extension and the Michigan Beekeeping Association are cohosting the virtual 2021 MBA Virtual Spring Conference.

“Normally, we get over 600 beekeepers at our conference. This year. We’re expecting a huge turnout because it’s online and a lot of beekeepers from other states have expressed interest and registered for the conference,” said Ana Heck, a apiculture extension educator.

Now bees may get a bad reputation, but Ana says honey bees are essential and popular right here in Mid-Michigan.

“Bees do really important pollination work- so a lot of the flowers and fruits and vegetables that we have, we need their pollination services in order to have good crops from them,” said Ana. They’re really important to us. For honeybees, we also appreciate that they make honey for us but one thing to think about is that oftentimes people get wasps and bees confused and sometimes the the insect that’s really bugging you in the fall.”

Right now the hives on MSU’s Pollinator Performance Center are in colorful boxes and are clustering, getting ready for spring.

“So each of these stacks here is a beehive and each hive has a colony. We have normally one Queen and a bunch of worker bees in that colony and right now they’re clustering because it’s cold and it’s winter, so they’re generating heat and eating honey,” explained Ana. “As beekeepers, we add and remove boxes, depending on the time of year and the space that our bees need.”

If you are interested in bee keeping, Ana says now is the time to get ready for it.

“Now beekeeping definitely isn’t for everyone, but we have seen a lot of interest from people who are interested in beekeeping. Learning about honeybees as a super organism and their biology is just really fascinating.”

That’s why now is the perfect time of the year to host a virtual beekeeping conference for the next few days.

“We’re learning a lot about history and beekeeping. Thursday we’re learning about resources for beekeepers from MSU. Friday will include a cooking show with a chef about cooking with honey and some keynote presentations And then Saturday will include four different tracks. We have a track on beginning beekeeping. We have a track on arts and culture and then we have two checks for more advanced beekeeping topics.”

Those murder hornets that have been making headlines, Ana says will also be a topic of dicussion.

“A lot of beekeepers are really scared because we see in other countries, this Hornet can really destroy a honeybee colony. We’re not really worried right now about this invasive pest establishing here, but it has generated a lot of concern and interest from the public so I think it’ll be a really fun presentation to learn more about us.”

And even if been aren’t your thing, there are many ways you can use this time before spring to help out beekeepers.

“We also want people to know that there’s a lot of ways that you can help pollinators and help beneficial insects and really a great way to help these is to plant flowers,” said Ana. “We don’t need everyone to be a beekeeper, but it would be awesome if everyone could plant flowers for bees. "

The conference starts on Wednesday online at 5:30.

For more information, https://www.michiganbees.org/spring-conference/

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