Beekeeping Critical Thoughts
By: Earl Hoffman
The 2023 Hive Life Conference was held in Sevierville, Tennessee at the Sevierville Conference Center on January 5-7, 2023.
Please allow me to share some observations and critical thoughts on the second annual Hive Life conference.
I have attended both Hive Life conferences, last year’s and this year’s.
My intent, is to not repeat the excellent reviews and discussions on the event, but to inject thoughts on WHY is the Hive Life Conference so successful? Please feel free to expand your thoughts on your next Bee Conference.
Just like real estate, it’s location, location, location. Tennessee is in the middle of the Eastern part of the United States of America. It’s a one day drive on average, while some drove for two days to be at the conference. Yes, it does have a major airport nearby in Knoxville, TN, but most beekeepers prefer to avoid the airports like the plague (How many of my small pocket knifes has TSA stolen from me? I have lost count.).
Please let me share a few of my observations with you. Individually, each of these observations may seem trivial and of no significance, but all rolled into one big conference, they are the magic that makes the Hive Life Conference in Sevierville, Tennessee special.
- An abundance of clean, moderately priced hotels in the Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, Gatlinburg area.
- Lots of things to do in the area, before the conference, during the conference and after the conference.
- Parking at the Hive Life Conference was more than enough and it was free!
- “Free” fresh great tasting coffee all day long, with a ton of snacks all day as well.
The catered lunch meals were fantastic, more than enough and they tasted home cooked, at a great low price. And they fed almost two thousand people in less than two hours each day. WOW.
- The Conference Center in Sevierville, Tennessee is one of the largest and cleanest facilities I have ever enjoyed. The Conference Center staff was friendly and abundant.
- The restroom facilities were more than great, they were clean and open. Service was always there.
- Lots of pre-orders and business to business traffic. I wish you could have seen the massive loading dock area. It was buzzing with activity before, during and after the conference.
- Millions and millions of dollars of bee equipment and inventory was at hand. Many sold out of equipment.
- Almost one hundred (100) vendors and exhibitors!
- Loading dock area was not managed by any logistics firm. This reduced the cost to use the facility by magnitudes. Vendors had free will to move and transport equipment as needed.
- During three (3) long intense days at the conference, I detected NO unhappy beekeepers; they were all excited to be at the Hive Life Conference
- Fantastic honey show and competition, the largest in North American in over fifty (50) years with over five hundred (500) entries with world class judges. Better, in my humble opinion, than Apimondia 2019.
- The event schedule gave break time between speakers and everything was in the same building.
Name badges had your meal ticket printed on it and it was double sided (smart?). I could read the names.
- Total cost to sponsor and pay vendor fees was about half what other conferences charge.
- No drama detected, most were happy to be there.
- Speakers were and are great beekeepers with years of experience. They shared their wisdom each time they spoke. Lots of useful information was shared by all.
- Lots of Master Beekeepers and enthusiastic sideliners in attendance.
- This event was a low cost educational opportunity.
Everyone said that they will be back next year. They were not disappointed. Hive Life Conference: under promise and over deliver. That’s the way they roll.
Please consider these Critical Thoughts the next time you attend a Bee Conference.
Respectfully, EAS Master Beekeeper – EARL HOFFMAN