Beekeeper Symposium offers hive of information

Published 10:49 am Friday, January 5, 2018

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Annual Beekeeping Symposium is returning to the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center on Feb. 3.

This event gives beekeepers of all experience levels the chance to learn, talk with other beekeepers and buy needed equipment.

“There is such a wide variety of people that have become interested in beekeeping,” Gary Gray of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said. “It’s fascinating to me.”

Registration is $35 until Jan. 19 and includes lunch. After Jan. 19, the price goes up to $50 at the door and does not include lunch.

Gary Gray of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said this year’s conference will have a variety of speakers from industry professionals to individual hive owners.

Special guest speakers will include Dr. Walter Sheppard, head of Washington State University’s entomology department; West Virginia judge and veteran beekeeper Dan O’Hanlan; Audrey Sheridan of Mississippi State University; Eastern Apicultural Society Master Beekeeper Stephen Repasky; Lynne Kelton of Lookout Mountain Honey Bees and Dr. Geoff Williams, Assistant Professor of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University.

Class topics range from those for individuals just getting interested in keeping bees to topics for master beekeepers.

Workshops will also be offered on judging the quality of honey, essential oils and making beeswax candles.

“They get a whole lot of information from other producers, which is really one of the great things about the conference,” Gray said.

Chilton County beekeeper Bill Evans said he has been to every one of the 23 symposiums that have been held.

“I always learn something new and different every time I go to one of these,” Evans said.

After attending for so many years, Evans also enjoys seeing all the friends he has made at previous meetings.

Evans has taught classes at the symposium in the past, but this year he said he is looking forward to being able to attend more sessions, since he is not scheduled to speak.

Evans was also involved in the symposium moving from Auburn to Clanton.

The one day event draws the interest of beekeepers from all over Alabama. More than 700 attended last year. Gray commented that the symposium was one of the most well attended education events that the Extension System has.

“It’s a good opportunity to meet other beekeepers,” Evans said. “I’ve never known a beekeeper who wasn’t happy to help a new beekeeper.”

To register online, visit

The Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center is located on the Chilton-Clanton campus of Jefferson State Community College at 1850 Lay Dam Road in Clanton.