Over 90 people turned up for the day which kicked off at 9.30am with an opening speech by Ben Hooper about the latest events occurring within the beekeeping industry. Ben presented a great deal of information during his presentation.

Danny Le Feuvre's presentation on pollination covered all of the major crops and included details such a coverage/hive densities, success levels, and payment rates. 

Jo Parish, a PhD Research Student from the University of Adelaide (Waite) gave a very interesting presentation on bees collecting fungal spores and the effects on their health, which in case you were wondering is actually extended by the inclusion of the amino acids in fungal spores in their diet. 

Morning and afternoon tea included a selection of cakes, biscuits, fruit and chocolates along with the usual tea, coffee and cold water. 

Teagan Alexander, our local Beekeeping Biosecurity Officer, gave a presentation on how to check for disease in the hive and make a slide sample which can be sent off for testing.

The procedure for using the Vita Honeybee Foulbrood Test kits to check a hive for EFB and AFB was covered by Bill Brown. Bill went through all of the steps to ensure the test procedure is performed correctly. Bill also had a number of the test kits available for purchase on the day at a discounted rate.

Michael Steadman was able to bring along a couple of frames with AFB infection sealed in plastic for the attendees to inspect. Later in the day, Bill once again went through the steps to test for AFB. It was a very valuable experience to actually see a frame infected with AFB and then see how it can be tested quickly, and easily with a high rate of accuracy.

Hygienic testing of bees was presented by Ben Hooper. Ben used liquid nitrogen to freeze a small section of brood. The section is a pre-determined size which covers approx 100 cells. Over a 24 hour period, the dead brood cells are counted to see how many the bees remove, giving an idea of how hygienic the hive is. As usual with these types of presentations, Ben had performed the test on a brood frame the day before to show everyone how the bees clean out the frozen/dead bees. A high standard of hygienic behaviour would return a result of 97 bees removed out of 100.

Lunch was provided under cover just outside the main room with a number of SAAA Executive members demonstrating their master cooking skills. Everyone had more than enough to eat, with Bill Brown even cooking some fantastic Coorong Mullet.

The afternoon session commenced with Les Crane giving an introduction to the open hive inspections. Everyone then headed out to the hives collecting their PPE along the way, splitting into 3 groups as we reached the hives. At each station a pair of master beekeepers were ready to share their expertise.

The hives were setup in 3 groups. Group 1 talked about the steps required to prepare hives for pollination with Robert Hooper and Marty Gilbert sharing their vast experience on how they go about preparing their hives. Marty and Robert talked at length about their different methods and the benefits of their different approaches.

The second group of hives showed attendees how hives should look while they are at pollination. Michael Pitt covered the elements of a strong healthy hive, and Teagan, the local BBO, spoke about what she is looking for when inspecting hives for compliance and disease. Teagan made a point of letting all attendees know that her priority is to help beekeepers to ensure their hives are healthy and strong and beekeepers should not be concerned about having to contact either Michael Steadman or herself if they suspect their hives have disease as they are here to help.

The last group talked about how hives should look when they are finished pollinating, and the things beekeepers need to do to ensure the continued health and strength of their hives. Les Crane and Bill Brown shared their many years of beekeeping knowledge and answered many questions from the group. A number of frames were removed from the hive allowing attendees to get a closer look at a commercial hive.

On our return to the main room, Ian Zadow shared his knowledge and experience of supplementary feeding including sugar syrup and pollen supplements. Ian now regularly uses supplementary pollen feeding as he has found that his bees are much stronger and healthier and as a result produce more honey.

Michael Steadman, PIRSA Biosecurity Officer, talked about the various methods to test for Varroa. Michael demonstrated the alcohol wash method using the new Varroa EasyCheck test kits to check for a number of different mites, some endemic and some exotic. Michael also demonstrated the drone checking method using an uncapping fork to pull out drones and add them to the Varroa EasyCheck test kit. Michael had a number of test kits to give away to attendees in return for sending in quarterly test results to PIRSA.

While Varroa is still an exotic pest, all beekeepers need to remain vigilant, regularly checking their hives to ensure early detection and treatment. Josh Kennett spoke very passionately about the risks of Varroa and how hobby beekeepers are on the front line acting as an early warning system, given they are closest to the ports and primary transport hubs which will see Varroa arrive into our country.

Les Crane wrapped up the day thanking the numerous people who helped make the event such a great success. Les touched on the events to come later in the season and the topics that will be covered. A number of survey responses were received with some great ideas for future events.

The day ended with everyone catching up for a drink with friends, both old and new.

A selection of photos can be viewed in the Gallery.

I would like to finish by thanking Les Crane and Katrina Hudson for organising an excellent day. I look forward to the other events that are in the pipeline.