The conference was great in so many ways and I learned a lot, but I thought I'd post a few of the highlights (including the sign) tonight and then I'll post some of the content over the next week.
Sam Comfort talked about Warre hives and I was so entertained and learned a lot. I knew nothing about Warre hives before I listened to him speak.
I had hoped we would also get some time with Sam in the beehives but it rained every day. He is a wonder to watch as he works the bees with no protective gear and only a broad-brimmed hat. I really wanted Noah to get to see Sam in action. Sam told Noah that he drove his bees down to the conference inside his van - they are top bar and Warre hives - so they were not screened off. Should have been quite an adventure.
Before we got there, Sam taught a workshop on how to build a skep. Here is a skep that he built. Some funny beekeeper equipped the skep with a head covering, sunglasses and a German smoker for a pipe!
But for me the highlight of the meeting was getting to meet Michael Bush in person. I was so star struck that the first day, the best I could do was to introduce myself and essentially run back to my seat. But the second day I got to chat with him some and got to eat dinner with him on our last night there - which was a privilege.
When I first started beekeeping, I wanted to be a natural beekeeper and found little support in my local bee club at that time seven years ago. I went to the Internet for guidance and found Michael on Beemaster and Beesource. He has been my model for how I'd like to keep bees from the beginning and he has always been willing to answer emails and questions I've posted on Beemaster and Beesource. I've also learned from reading his website and posts in answer to questions from other people.
It is so rare to get to thank someone like that in person - Michael was every bit as nice in person as he is when he responds on the Internet to questions that he must have been asked 800 times. I am absolutely thrilled that I got to meet him.
In the photo below, we are standing in front of a table filled with his books that he was selling at the meeting. In addition to his own book, he has reprinted old beekeeping manuals from classic beekeepers. I already own his book, so I bought his compendium of queen rearing guides.
Julia, Noah, and I had a great time at the conference and I came home more determined and informed about the importance of no treatment and the importance of raising hives that can fight the varroa mite without my intrusion.