Chilton County hosts annual beekeepers gathering

Beekeepers from throughout the state flocked to Chilton County on Feb. 3 for ACES 2018 Beekeeper Symposium.

The event was held at the Clanton Conference and Performing Arts Center and included a mix of vendor displays and educational demonstrations.

According to Chilton County Extension Coordinator Gay West, an estimated 671 people attended the event.

Forty vendors from throughout the country attended the event and promoted an array of beekeeping supplies.

Ed Waggoner and Heather Moore were representatives from Mann Lake Ltd., based in Minnesota but sold locally at Chilton Feed and Supply in Clanton, and had a booth setup that featured beekeeping protective gear, as well as other supplies.

They travel to various conventions throughout the country during the year, and Chilton County is one of their typical stops.

“As far as having people come to conventions, this is as big of one that exists,” Waggoner said.

According to Moore, the number of people that attended the event is quickly approaching as many as the American Beekeeping Federation’s national convention hosted annually in Reno, Nevada.

Information was being shared throughout the day, as beekeepers both seasoned and beginner asked questions and took part in discussion.

Dr. James Tew is an Extension bee specialist and was one of the main speakers at the symposium.

“Beekeeping is enjoying a really nice boom across the country,” Tew said. “The public’s attitude has changed toward bees.”

Tew was instrumental in starting the symposium at Auburn University in 1995.

Since then, the event has grown in numbers and after bouncing around various locales, seems to have found a home in Chilton County over the last handful of years.

“It is by far the nicest quarters we’ve ever come up with,” Tew said. “We’re deeply appreciative of such a nice facility.

According to Tew, one of the main concerns currently facing beekeepers is the threat of parasitic mites that can kill bees. Due to this, bees require much more care and tending to than was the case in previous decades.

“Beekeeping is an ongoing education,” said Larry Wyatt, Chilton County Beekeepers Association president. “By finding new ways to help the bees, we’re gaining a better understanding of pollination and the role that bees play in our food supply. It means a great deal.”

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