I love the Growing the North Conference. Every year the line up of speakers is excellent and this year promises to be no different. In an effort to remember some of the great information I seem to come away with, I thought this year I would do a series of blogs on the speakers. That way I have a record and can hold myself accountable to put into practice any of the advice I get or the information I want to act on.
Opening the conference this year was Shelley Hoover, a research scientist from Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in Lethbridge. She started us off with an excellent, very visual presentation on bees. She really made the bee world far more real to all of us. Interesting, she was not the doomsday prophet that I expected. I am sure most of us have heard how much trouble we would be in if we lost our bees but Dr. Hoover put that in perspective. Bees do not pollinate all of our foods, consider potatoes, rice or even seafood but they definitely pollinate the food we grow that is higher in nutrition. When bees are doing their job they can increase the yield of the crops by 75%. She actually showed pictures of Chinese farmers hand pollinating apple trees. Wow consider what an apple would cost if we had to do that in Canada? She also put into perspective the latest pest the bees are having to contend with. Imagine you had 2 or 3 pests that attached themselves to your abdomen that were each about the size of a saucer and that their only purpose was to suck on your blood. YUCK.
Patricia Wolf Veiga, one of our own from the National Bee Diagnostic Centre located in the County of Grande Prairie near Beaverlodge, then took the stage to help us understand our regions contribution to this very important agricultural industry. While Shelley described the bee killers which included winter, as well as parasites and pesticides, Patricia really brought that home as she described the realities in the Peace region. Did you know that Alberta produces 44% of Canada’s honey and a good portion of that comes from the Peace? Once again the innovation and foresight of the people of our region needs to be congratulated, especially the CRI and GPRC for understanding the importance of bees and how we could play a major role, both in research, education, and training.
This is the first blog in a series posted by Janet based on the speakers at the Peace Region Growing the North Conference.