The annual convention of the Wisconsin Honey Producers Association is held the first weekend in November every year. This meeting is one of the highlights of my beekeeping year. At the convention, I get to catch up with old friends, make new ones and listen to some of the best beekeepers in the United States speak.
This year our two keynote speakers were Dr Jamie, the Ellis Gahan Endowed Professor of Entomology in the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida, and John Miller of Miller Honey Farms. John was the subject of the book The Beekeeper's Lament by Hannah Nordhaus. Hearing these two gentlemen speak and getting to know them was a delight.
Dr. Jamie Ellis, Kent Pegorsch and John Miller (left to right)
Getting together with other beekeepers is where I learn as much as I do listening to the lectures. The year's challenges and successes are discussed in detail!
The convention is a good opportunity to hear the interesting stories that the honey queens have experienced over the past year. I had the opportunity to have lunch with Hannah Sjostrom, third generation beekeeper and American Honey Queen (and former Wisconsin Honey Queen), Sydnie Paulsrud (Now our current American Honey Princess) and our 2020 Wisconsin Honey Queen Jennifer Hinkel.
Wisconsin has a legacy of training honey queens that go onto serve on a national level. At the national level, the American Honey Queen and American Honey Princess positions are full time jobs. These young women travel the entire country for a year with very little time at home. They do an excellent job our promoting our industry and the program provides an opportunity for them to develop their professional skills.
Several years ago, our Waupaca County Honey Queen, Kim Kester, went on to become Wisconsin Honey Queen and American Honey Queen. At each step, her presentation skills were improved. By the time she got to the national level, she was truly a professional spokesperson.
In 2020, my second term as President of the WHPA will be up. It will be time to turn the reigns over to somebody new. As President at the annual banquet on Saturday night, I have the honor of escorting the Honey Queen into the banquet. As I walked out to meet up with the Honey Queen for the last time this year with the packed banquet hall to my back, I was faced with this view. I had to stop a take a quick photo. It is my favorite photo of the convention.