This week I packed my bags and headed on a flight to Blenheim to participate in the Apiculture NZ conference 2018. Conference attendance is an important part of science research because it offers an opporutnity to connect with like-minded researchers, as well as industry, community, and scientists from other disciplines. It helps keep the focus on relevant and timely research. This year Apiculture NZ offered me a $500 travel award to assist with the cost of attending the 2018 conference. It was a fantastic opportunity and I am grateful for their support.
Here’s a few highlights from my experience…
- Event app – the future of conference programs. This included, not only a full schedule of events and attendees, but also a platform for messaging other delegates and sharing contact information.
- Major industry engagement – A large part of the conference felt like a mini field days for apiculture. The central area was a mass of stalls, displays, and promotions from across New Zealand and Australia, showcasing the latest in apicultural innovation. The majority of conference attendees were also industry professionals – beekeepers, business owners, equipment manufacturers and distributors, etc. This was an excellent opportunity to get feedback on my research from the people that will have the most influence on my research outcomes. One beekeeper that I met at the conference described to me how she has observed on several occassions that honey bees will allow native bees into their hive
- Student encouragement and support – Though there were only a few students in attendance, we were encouraged and supported by the conference organising committee, and by the general attendees. Two student travel awards were given – one to myself, and another to a fellow University of Waikato student. Conference expenses can be very costly and travel awards certainly make things easier.
- International keynotes – the conference highlighted several international keynote speakers that offered fascinating insights into beekeeping on the other side of the world. It was interesting to learn about the nutritional practices of a large-scale apicultural operation in the United States of America, as well as to learn about the pollination and horticultural management of several large crops that rely on honey bees for pollination.
- Hiking Pelorus Bridge – the weather was foul, but the scenery was amazing. A troup of Hamiltonians stepped off the plane in Blenheim, squished into a rental car that had been festively decorated with bird poo, and drove to Pelorus Bridge. It was pouring at times, but under the gorgeous canopy of beech, it wasn’t so bad. We saw a curious weka bobbing through the ferny ground cover – it clearly wanted to meet us, but didn’t quite find the courage. We found giant snail eggs, saw beech honey dew, and located two waterfalls. We returned home dripping and cold, but it was well worth it.