North American Beekeeping Conference 2015

We had the honour of presenting on Therapeutic Beekeeping with At-Risk Communities at the American Beekeeping Federations annual conference, this year held at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.

Highlights, aside from the palm trees:

1) Dr. Jim Frazier’s Keynote Presentation – Dying Bees: Harbingers of End Times or Opportunity Buzzing

Jim is Professor Emeritus of Entymology at Penn State and the American Beekeekeeping Federation’s Lead Biologist.

Jim spoke of all of the research and data that points to the need for sustainable organic agricultural systems. The current situation is unacceptable, he said, and it will take the coming together of many voices, to demand the overhaul of our agricultural and legislative/policy making systems.

He ended his presentation, holding back tears, with the words: “This is not the world I want to leave for my grandchildren.” And he received a standing ovation from a roomful of beekeepers who agree.

2) Pollinator Partnership presentation by Laurie Davies Adams

This partnership is doing a tonne of work for pollinators including their Bee Buffer project, sending free pollinator friendly seed packages to farmers in California and North Carolina, to increase forage along their hedgerows; their SHARE project, encouraging to “Simply Have Areas Reserved for Pollinators” and loads more:


3) Bee nutrition conversations and research

A lot of presentations centred around bee nutrition. Bees that are able to access the right balance of pollen (protein) and nectar (carbohydrates) are better able to defend against viruses and parasites and better able to raise healthy queens. Bees require 3x the chemical energy of a hummingbird and 30x that of a human athlete! So all the more reason to be planting a diversity of nectar and pollen sources for bees!

And, as beekeepers, reason to feed your bees pollen in dirth, especially at the end of the season when they are rearing the overwintering bees and combatting increasing mite levels.


4) Randy Oliver

Randy presented a number of times during the conference, and his beekeeper-funded research along with practical tools for beekeeping, is available on his website

Randy doesn’t use synthetic miticides in his hives, not because he is an organic or “no-treatment” beekeeper, but because he doesn’t want to be on the treadmill. When you treat with a chemical that is 95% effective, as synthetic miticides are, you enter a selective breeding program. The 5% that survive get stronger, they resist treatment, and soon treatments fails. So he employs “knock back” natural compound system, instead of “knock out” synthetic treatments, in windows of opportunity during the cycle of the hive.


5) Mark Winston – Looking Backward to Move Forward

Mark encouraged us to think carefully about the systems we are using, the chemically reliant industrial agricultural systems that dump pesticides, fungicides and herbicides into our ecosystems, combining to have synergistic effects that are toxic to life. He called for beekeepers to gather themselves, make a stand against use of these synthetic chemicals within the beekeeping community, and ally with other interest groups to speak up for policy change.

He was inspiring, eloquent and moving, as always. And as always he looked to the hive for inspiration, to the complexity of the hive’s society and communication devices, where the actions of each individual combine to better the health of the hive, where the actions of each individual make a difference.

Mark’s website is


6) Hives for Humanity: Therapeutic Beekeeping with At-Risk Communities

We had a wonderfully engaged group of beekeepers attend our presentation, and the highlight was the conversation that we had at the end. We are woking on putting together a piece of written work from this presentation, that we will publish here.

Our thesis: Beekeeping is therapeutic. Not only in the multifold health benefits of hive products, but in the actual practice of beekeeping itself, and in the entire culture that surrounds the hive.

Our conclusion: Our team has flourished, our community has grown and it is the profound impact of the bees, on all of our lives, that continues to drive the work of Hives for Humanity.

…more to come.

7) Llyod Harris – beekeeper

Lloyd is the graduate student who Julia, our Chief Beekeeper, worked for 40 years ago! Lloyd was interested in monitoring cohort size and longevity in honey bees, to determine when overwintering bees were raised. He and his team counted brood and emerged bees, every 12 days, for a year, in about 30 hives! And now, 40 years later, that data set is being looked at again and re-interpreted by Randy Oliver.

The data is creating discussion and excitement in the beekeeping community, and helping beekeepers to understand what is going on in their hives and why. Congratulations to Llyod, who we got had the pleasure of hanging out with over the week, enjoying his company and his bee knowledge.

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