All abuzz: First UP beekeepers conference set

Dawn Hart/Submitted to the Daily Mining Gazette A beekeeper holds up an empty honey super covered in bees.

MARQUETTE — All are welcome at the first U.P. beekeepers conference.

“New beekeepers, old beekeepers and people that are not beekeepers,” said organizer Joel Lantz. “There’s been just exploding interest in beekeeping throughout the U.P.”

With clubs now in the Keweenaw, Escanaba, Iron Mountain and Marquette, Lantz is seeing a surge of bee enthusiasts.

The conference is scheduled for March 31 at the Northern Michigan University Seaborg Center in Marquette. In addition to keynote speaker Charlotte Hubbard, there are breakout sessions planned based on attendee interest and skill level.

The four breakout session tracks include beginner, advanced, pollinator habitat and needs and fun.

The beginner sessions will cover topics like wintering bees and tales about the first year of keeping bees. The advanced session includes swarm biology and mite prevention.

The pollinator and fun general sessions will touch on topics like landscaping for pollinators, mead making and bee product lotions.

Lantz hopes the conference will bring in non-beekeepers to learn more about the work bees do as pollinators.

For beekeepers, it’s a chance to learn more and meet peers.

“We have all these micro climates all over the U.P. and to kind of swap stories and tales, that’s a good thing,” Lantz said. “We had hoped for maybe if we could get 100 people that would be really great and I think we’re going to go well over that.”

He knows members from clubs all over the U.P. are already planning on attending.

David Wiitanen, president of the Copper Country Beekeepers is already planning his trip.

“Anytime you have an opportunity to learn something it’s well worth it, anytime you quit learning you might as well hang up your boots,” Wiitanen said.

He hopes to get ideas for future research and directions to go as a beekeeper. Wiitanen sees improvement in beekeeping as a chance to grow his skills, improve the environment and maybe have a sweet reward of honey at the end of the year if everything goes right.

More information and tickets are available at upbeekeepingconference.weebly.com.

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