2023 American Beekeeping Federation Conference


This was the 80th anniversary of the American Beekeeping Federation convention. About 500 participants from throughout the country attended.

By: Charles & Karen Nielsen Lorence

The American Beekeeping Federation had their 2023 convention in Jacksonville, Florida from January 4-7, 2023. About five hundred people attended including a few international people. We were all delighted to attend. Even the weather cooperated. Now we are all anticipating the 2024 convention in New Orleans.

Three speakers were showcased, one of which was Diana Cox Foster who runs the pollinating insect research unit out of Logan, Utah. Their studies include other pollinating insects in addition to honey bees. How does the presence of the honey bee impact other native bees? All require pollen and nectar. How much food is available and how many mouths are there to feed? What is the interaction between pesticides, pathogens, poor nutrition and parasites? These were some of the topics she addressed.

Another speaker was Dr. Sam Ramsey who addressed the Tropilaelaps mite hereafter referred to as ‘Tropi’. This is not the first we have heard about it but it is another parasitic mite and we must worry about it coming to America from Southeast Asia. We beekeepers frequently wonder why the varroa gets into hives. It is the perfect home for them with perfect temperature and perfect food source. Actually, bees prefer to be away from other bees. What do we do? We put them near each other, enabling them to reproduce.

Varroa and ‘Tropi’ share one feature and that is that they reproduce rapidly and easily and it only takes one mite. Varroa and ‘Tropi’ DO live in the same hive. We don’t know if they compete or if they cooperate. We need to learn to ‘think like the mite.’ Heat treatment including solar cells is being tried at this time.

Finally, Jay Evans spoke about Understanding and Managing Honey Bee Diseases. We need the colonies to be resilient. Stressors such as climate, disease, chemicals, even goats (because they eat all the forage) impact them. Our researchers are trying to find nature antidotes with over 500 natural ones yet to be tested. Our last resort should be medication.

The break out sessions were well attended and extremely interesting. Commercial beekeepers, sideliners/small scale beekeepers and package bee/queen breeders were all in break out sessions. Since so many of us in this state are small scale/sideliners, I might add that a few favorites were Becky Tipton’s value added product demonstration, wax rendering and how to make creamed honey. Also included, were comb honey production, encaustic painting, queen rearing, therapeutic uses of honey, overwintering bees in climate controlled environments and establishing markets.

Kids and Bees was a popular place for kids to learn about bees and beekeeping. About 600 kids from the community came to tour the exhibit.

Always a highlight of the convention is ‘Kids and Bees’. This open house for community children was attended by over 600 kids and their teachers/parents!

The foundation luncheon, delegate luncheon and auxiliary luncheon showcased their respective interests. The trade show brought in some new and unique companies this year. There was a push for plastic foundation and plastic beeswax coated frames, extracting equipment on display, insurance and purveyors of gadgets. There was an absence of glass and plastic bottle purveyors. Pollinator friendly plants was a high priority booth.

Mark Killion represented his father, Gene, as we all honored the Killion family and their contribution to the beekeeping industry but especially to the section box product of comb honey. The proceeds of a silent auction of Killion memorabilia as well as the auction of Mark’s donated honey will go to a scholarship for a worthy entomology student.

State honey queens represented for Florida, Iowa and Wisconsin with Florida’s queen being chosen as the American Honey Queen and the Iowa queen as the American Honey Princess.

Our queen candidates this year represented Wisconsin, Iowa and Florida. Throughout the convention, they circulated amongst the group, sharing their experiences in beekeeping. Selena Rampolla was the Florida Honey Queen and became the winner for American Honey Queen; Iowan, Allison Hager, became the American Honey Princess. In addition, Wisconsin was represented by their 2022 honey queen – Shannon Lamb. Please remember that our queen and princess are now available for appearances at your events. Contact Anna Kettlewell to schedule them for your clubs or events. Outgoing American Honey Queen, Lucy Winn, was a phenomenal candidate this past year.

The honey contest gave participants an opportunity to bring their honey and beeswax products to be judged competitively against other professional beekeepers. The winning honey was then auctioned off. Participants take the competition very seriously and winning is everything to those who take that honor!

The National Honey Show displayed the best honey in America and was entered by individuals from throughout the country. Stephanie Slater from Wisconsin earned BEST IN SHOW with her extra light extracted honey. Her jars were auctioned off at the banquet on the final night and brought $840 per jar! The money will go to the legislative fund.

The convention will be held in New Orleans in January of 2024. Plan to join us!

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