by Allison Adams
Hello, Texas Beekeepers!
I hope you and your bees are off to a wonderful start this New Year! I have just arrived home from an adventure in Florida, beginning with the ABF Convention in Orlando, and I’d like to share my experiences with you.
It all began on Tuesday, January 12th, when Nicole Pettibon, Rachael Seida, Shirley Acevedo, Blake Shook and I arrived at the Wyndham Resort in Orlando, Florida. After checking into the hotel, I had the privilege of meeting the 2010 Pennsylvania Honey Queen, Tessa Bryson (the younger sister of Rachel Bryson, who was the 2008 American Honey Princess when our own Rachael Seida was the 2008 American Honey Queen). Like me, Tessa had come to the Convention to observe and learn before competing for the American Honey Queen title in 2011. She and I (and Mrs. Talbert, who joined us) enjoyed a very nice conversation together. On Tuesday evening was the welcome reception, and I had the opportunity to meet beekeepers from all over the nation. It was a very pleasant time of fellowship!
The Convention officially began on Wednesday morning with the opening ceremonies, greetings from Diane Jurchen (American Honey Queen) and Allison Hull (American Honey Princess) and introduction of the competing state Honey Queens. In the afternoon, I sat in on several very informative shared interest group presentations in the honey producers/packers division. Since most of my time at the next 2011 ABF convention will be spent in meeting people and selling quilt raffle tickets, I thought this event in Florida was my chance to learn as much as possible! Wednesday’s evening event was the Honey Queen reception and Quiz Bowl which proved to be an excellent opportunity to observe, learn and take notes for next year!
Thursday began with the ABF Ladies Auxiliary Breakfast and meeting, when the American Honey Queen and Honey Princess gave their end-of-year reports. Next, each of the competing state queens demonstrated their knowledge of beekeeping and hive products by performing a short skit or giving a brief presentation before the assembly. It was very entertaining to see how creative the girls had been in designing their marketing presentations – I am already getting ideas for next year! During the breakfast I enjoyed listening to the ladies at my table as they shared stories about their introduction into beekeeping by marrying commercial beekeepers – their first date in the bee yard, picking up packaged bees on their honeymoon, etc. I am sure some of you ladies can relate to that! Thursday ended with a trip to the Sleuth Mystery Theater for dinner and a show.
Friday’s big event was the ABF Foundation Scholars Recognition Luncheon, where those who had made significant contributions to the Foundation for the Preservation of Honey Bees were recognized and awarded. After the ceremony we heard from the keynote speaker, Dr. Jim Tew of Ohio State University, who gave an interesting and humorous speech on the ways beekeeping has changed over the years. Late Friday afternoon I sat in on the American Honey Show Auction where beautiful honeys, candles and beeswax sculptures were sold to the highest bidder. That evening, I left with Rachael Seida, Shirley Acevedo and Janet Rowe to walk a few blocks to a local Indian restaurant (the four of us love Indian food) for supper. We then had a fun time exploring some gift shops before returning to the hotel in time to see part of a thought-provoking bee film.
Saturday was my last convention day. I made my final tour of the tradeshow, which was one of the highlights of the Convention. I had thoroughly enjoyed walking up and down the aisles, looking at books, extractors, smokers, mailboxes, beetle traps, honey, note cards, Polish propolis lollipops, bee bracelets, calendars, salt and pepper shakers and so much more! It was also a wonderful place to meet people, and I was a little sad to see it go. I also listened to a fascinating seminar on top bar hives on Saturday morning. In the afternoon, I met up with the Honey Queens and Honey Princess at the Orlando Public Library for Kids and Bees, an event organized by Kim Lehman of Austin, TX. Saturday evening was the ABF Banquet. It began with the entry of all six competing state queens and the American Honey Queen and Honey Princess. We then enjoyed a delicious formal dinner before the introduction of the new ABF officers. Next was the sweepstakes drawing, quilt raffle drawing and live auction. The last and crowning event of the evening was the coronation of the 2010 American Honey Queen and American Honey Princess. Chosen as the 2010 American Honey Queen was Lisa Schluttenhofer of Indiana and Amy Roden of Wisconsin was crowned 2010 American Honey Princess.
Throughout the Convention I had been meeting people from all over the United States, Canada and even Bermuda. A great way to do this was to casually approach someone or walk by them and say, “Hello, I’m Allison Adams. What is your name?” Their reply would sound something like this: “Oh, hi! I’m _____ - and where are you from?” I would answer, “I’m from Texas, in the Dallas area – and where are you from?” They would respond and I would ask, “And do you keep bees in _____?” When the person told me how many hives they kept in their state, province, or country, the number was nearly always in the hundreds or thousands. When they asked me “And how many hives do you keep?” I must confess I felt a little silly at my answer: “Four.” I guess I felt a bit out of place among all the commercial beekeepers, but by the end of my stay in Florida, I came to realize that it does not matter how many hives a person keeps. Whether one keeps 6,900 hives, 25 hives or just one, or even if someone has no hives at all, but nurtures a few flowering plants for the honey bees to gather pollen and nectar from, they are doing a truly wonderful thing. After I replied with the small number of hives I kept, some of the beekeepers would say very sincerely, “Good for you!” That encouraged me so much – I’m glad to be a beekeeper!
When the Convention was over, my family (who had driven to meet me) picked me up and we enjoyed several days exploring Florida before driving back home. One of our stops was at an organic pick-your-own citrus grove in Clermont, Florida. The family who owned the orchard kept many beehives on their property for pollination and honey production, and I tasted their delicious orange blossom honey, as well as, some saw palmetto and tupelo honey that they sell. My family and I also spent a day in St. Augustine, and as we were strolling down one of the old streets there, we spied a little tea and spice shop, so we stepped in to look around. As we spoke with the two ladies working in the shop and we mentioned we were beekeepers, they looked upon us with wonder and approval. It reminded me of something said at the Convention: “Beekeepers are the good guys.” Honey bees are in trouble (after all, the title for this year’s ABF Convention was “Keeping the Hive Alive”), and thus, we too are the good guys. Thanks to the media, thousands of people now understand how important honey bees are to us. That speaker at the Convention was explaining that because of this, beekeepers have truly become the “good guys.” As those who care for these precious creatures, beekeepers are esteemed and respected more now than perhaps ever before – it certainly is a wonderful time to be a beekeeper!
I want to thank you all so very much for making it possible for me to attend the 2010 ABF Convention. I had an amazing time meeting and learning from beekeepers and researchers from across the nation, such as David Hackenberg, Reyah Carlson, Nancy Gentry, Randy Oliver, Maryann Frazier, David Mendes and many, many more. Some of these people I had only seen in television productions, so I felt like I was meeting movie stars! It was an incredible privilege to be able to learn from these people and share in their discoveries. It will be so nice to arrive at the 2011 ABF Convention in Galveston and already know so many friendly people – I just love beekeepers!
I am looking forward to my next event at the Fort Worth Livestock Show at the end of January or beginning of February – stay tuned for more information!
Thank you all for your support,
~ Queen Allison
Ray Latner, Branch Manager Dadant - Paris, TX;
Rachael Seida, former Texas and American
Honey Queen and Allison Adams, 2010 Texas Honey
Queen outside the exhibitors area.
Allison Adams, 2010 Texas Honey Queen;
Rachael Seida, former Texas and American Honey Queen;
Lavada and John Talbert, Sabine Creek Honey Farm in Josephine, Texas
and Janet and Jim Rowe, Bee Charmer of Wylie, Texas.
Front Row: Wisconsin Honey Queen, Amy Roden;
American Honey Queen, Diane Jurchen;
Kim Lehman of Austin (in the bee dress);
American Honey Princess, Allison Hull;
Texas Honey Queen, Nicole Pettibon and
Minnesota Honey Queen, Alexa
Back Row: Pennsylvania Honey Queen, Maya Althouse; Indiana Honey Queen, Lisa Schluttenhofer and Iowa Honey Queen, Shiliah Spaulding.