Apimondia 2009

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Jun 20, 2009
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Kingsbridge, South Devon
Hive Type
Number of Hives
0 - Now in beeless retirement!
Well, I went, had some excellent food and wine and even managed a few beekeeping related activities. I wrote up a blog of sorts, if only too prove I wasn't pickled all the time and because I went to such effort to write it I am going to inflict in on you all...


Having now arrived in Montpellier and there not being much to do in my 42 euro a night hotel in the evening (think stacked dog kennels) I thought I would start a very short BLOG of my visit. It's not a proper blog and will vanish in a puff of Gaullois at the end of week so I'm adding it to the main Forum rather than the blog's page.

Flew from Exeter to Avignon by FlyBe. Propeller driven aircraft so I may be able to claim some green points but ideally I would have preferred to go by train as the TGV goes to Montpellier but it would have been almost twice the price of flying so a bit of a non-starter on cost grounds. Not sure all these G20 summits are achieving much climate-wise while this remains the situation.

Interesting arrival at Avignon deep in the South of France - it was raining. Perhaps evidence to support the belief if the weather is good in the UK it is bad on the Continent. This is certainly the case at the moment. Large depression or two over France and big High over the UK. However, all the grass scorched brown everywhere so they have certainly had a hot summer.

Then had to find a taxi from the airport. I've only come across this once before, in Denmark - a small regional airport that doesn't have taxis. Had to get the Information office to ring for one which turned up after about 20 minutes and a couple of showers later - the taxi rank is outside as normal so we noticed the showers. I say we as I shared the taxi with a British lady going on holiday and a Canadian astronomer. I think the latter almost forgave me by the end of the journey for mistaking him for a Yank.

The station at Avignon was packed with police. Not sure what they were doing but on the train to Montpellier they had a success and found someone without a ticket. Dozens of them turned up to see the ticket inspector give her some bit of paper or other which was no doubt some sort of fine. All very genteel about it - I think it was the high point of the day and was going to be talked about for weeks afterwards. Also interesting to see the ticket inspector asked everyone who had a ticket to also show an ID card. I just claimed ignorance (life time's practice) and was left alone. Not sure why they were checking IDs but I suspect they are after immigrants coming over from East Europe through Italy or over from Africa by boat.

Finding my cheapo hotel was interesting. For the first time ever I relied on my car GPS as I didn't have a map of the area showing the hotel. It has a setting for going on foot which simply points in the direction to walk. This was fine until I hit a motorway, on the other side of which was my hotel. After a degree of back tracking and muttering (in French as I'm trying to get in character for the visit) I made it to the collection of plastic cubes which is to be my home for the next three nights.

Spent the evening wandering back into Montpellier. It is 2 miles to La Corum where Apimondia is being held so went there first so I know the way in the morning. Interesting to note three big coaches from Slovakia parked in a lay-by near the exhibition, on the back of which were various bee related pictures so it was clear Slovakia had sent at least 100 or so beekeepers in this party alone. Doubt there were many coach loads coming from the UK but might be wrong.

Afterwards collapsed into the first place offering beer. Had a very pleasant hour or so getting through a Bier Pression Grand followed by a Chorizo Pizza and a demi-litre of house red.

Journey back to the "hotel" very painless after that. seemed almost downhill.

Tomorrow: The Exhibition. If I don't get run over on the walk there a further instalment will follow.


Discovered last night my “cabin” in the hotel has probably the worst designed bed space I’ve ever come across. The switch to turn the bedside light off is directly behind the pillow and about 2 inches above the mattress. Result was when I sat up in bed to read a book the light promptly went out. I could overcome his by sitting to one side but then had to contend with the bedside light pressing into the small of my back as it was only about a foot above the mattress. Putting the pillow at the other end of the bed to avoid these electrical design nuances I discovered a previously unsuspected facet of hotel design. The bed had a duvet and a single sheet which both doubled as a sheet beneath me and on top of me. It was a sheet which was essentially one bed wide and two beds long, the fold being at the foot end.

Should amuse whoever comes in to clean the room tomorrow sorting it out.
After the usual “Continental” breakfast, i.e. a breakfast without tea, I walked back into Montpellier to attend the exhibition. Registration and getting in was well organised and painless and I then spent most of the rest of the day wandering around the three floors Apimondia 2009 is spread.

There were stands from numerous countries – from China through Russia and the whole of Eastern Europe and then across the Atlantic to Argentina and places thereabouts. A number of stands were taking things seriously and dressed in National costumes. All very colourful.

It was interesting to see so many stands just selling honey. I thought it was a beekeeping exhibition but apparently buyers come to source honey. One supplier of section honey said someone had just ordered 3,000 sections from him to be delivered as soon as possible.

Quite a lot of stands selling various magic potions – i.e. usually called a “Health Tonic” for the bees. I have no idea whether they work but I am naturally sceptical but reputable companies like Vita (Europe) are now selling special bee foods so it must be worth investigating.

I spent some time on the Swienty and Paradise Honey stands. The latter will shortly be bringing out a unique anti-swarm system that both prevents the bees swarming and stimulates supercedure. The key to how it works is not so much the hardware itself but the timescale used for the process.

When I got back to the hotel after a very pleasant dinner with a UK bee Inspector and another supplier of beekeeping equipment I found the bed had been made up just as I left it – with the pillow at the foot end. I suspect I am not the first person to find having a switch and a lamp in the small of the back uncomfortable.


Had bit of a lie-in this morning and arrived at the exhibition at about 10:00. Feet feeling a trace the worse for wear but rest of body holding up well. Fortunately, no ill effects from nightcap of Cognac the previous evening.
Wandered round the exhibits and was again struck by the number of people selling honey and other hive products like royal jelly and propolis. The latter items seemed to come exclusively from China. There was a stand for Greek honey which had a variety of very interesting types for tasting. One was described as “Fir Honey” which turned out to be honeydew (not that they called it that) from secretions of physokermes hemicryphus which after a quick Google revealed itself to be a type of scale insect which surrounds itself with a white cotton wool like stuff. We have had scale insects which do this on our pear trees though I haven’t seen the bees working them. They also do Thyme honey of course and Sweet Chestnut honey. The latter trees we get in the UK but we don’t seem to have the sort of forests of them which you would need for a mono-floral honey. They also market a range of heather honeys but these are not heather honey as we recognise it – it crystallises quickly and is made from types of heather other than the Calluna Vulgaris (Ling) which we in the UK have to use in order to call it heather honey.

Spent some time at a stand selling software for hive management. Interestingly, they had found RFID tags of limited use for identifying individual hives. The problem was the short range of the devices and the high power consumption of the readers. This company recommended bar codes and had a little printer which produced weatherproof bar code labels which could be read by a portable scanner. Their software then recorded the management of the hive, recording such events as adding or removing supers as well as the results of any inspection. The problem was still the high cost of the reader but they said their software worked with mobile ‘phones which had Windows CE although the data had to be entered manually. It sounds attractive but I am not convinced there would be much market in the UK unless the cost of the hardware could be reduced. I didn’t ask how much their software was but expect it would not be cheap.
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This bit wouldn't fit, so comes as a second gripping instalement.


The next Apimondia in 2011 is in Argentina so not sure if the budget will stretch to a trip there but we can dream. The venue for the one after that in 2013 has not yet been decided. There is a BBKA initiative to put in a UK bid which I fear will have some tough competition. I just hope they don’t decide to hold it at Stoneleigh. A collection of wooden huts in the middle of nowhere served by no useful public transport links doesn’t quite cut it compared to Budapest, Istanbul or the Ukraine all of which are also bidding and had stands at this year’s exhibition complete with musicians and folk in national costume offering copious quantities of evil spirits. There is a feeling somewhere East Europe will probably win as there are so many beekeepers in the region and the votes each country gets is related to how many beekeepers there are in each country. The UK bid is limited by only being an English bid as far as I am aware, i.e. the votes for beekeeper numbers in Scotland, Northern Ireland or Wales will not count. If I am wrong I am sure someone will let me know but for what it is worth if they don’t plan to hold it somewhere near the middle of London or perhaps Cardiff or say Edinburgh it will be a doomed bid. The venue has to offer more than just a space for beekeeping stands. The NEC might work but its main fault is its a bit close to Birmingham*

So there you have it. I didn't go to any of the talks (too mean to pay and too thick to understand some of it) but others did, so might let us know what they heard.

Start saving for Argentina. As an exhibition and place to hear interesting talks Apimondia was excellent.

I've got some pictures which I will put here later.

*Joke and shameless adaptation of the comment about Basingstoke, i.e. "The only thing wrong with Basingstoke is its a bit close to Basingstoke".
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Picture Section

If you click on this link it might take you to my Flikr page where you may be able to see more pictures like the one below. http://www.flickr.com/photos/16794733@N08/page1 I am not sure it will work but let me know of it does. You may need a Flikr account first.

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Thanks for posting that RT. I had been thinking of going, but found the entry charge exhorbitant. Yeah, the rain has been bucketing down-one good thing though, 10 kilos of mushrooms this morning.
Yes thank you for posting about your Apimondia experiance John,interesting read,your descriptions of the hotel where you were staying are very amusing.
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