Coming Soon:

Mid-Atlantic Organic Honey Bee Convention, 4500 Kensington Ave Richmond, VA 15 March 2014

For details click here.

8th Annual Organic Beekeepers Mtg, will be in Oracle Ariz 27-28 Feb - 1 Mar, 2014

Details will be posted as they become available.

7th Annual Organic Beekeepers Mtg, was in Oracle Ariz 28 Feb - 2 Mar, 2014

by Dee Lusby

As the Organic Beekeepers yahoo.com discussion group has now grown in numbers to over 5500+ members, we have put together our 7th annual meeting for an American Beekeepers Association, for beekeepers into clean Organic Beekeeping, to come together to associate for clean sustainable beekeeping with ZERO treatments, and getting off the artificial feeds, and artificial breeding parameters, not in tandum with Nature.

Meeting to be held in Oracle, Arizona at the YMCA Triangle Y Ranch Camp and Retreat Center 28 Feb - 2 March 2014. Meeting will start Friday afternoon with signing in, with Friday Night Hello's/Dinner, run all day Saturday, and thru Sunday afternoon with keynote presentations, general sessions, breakout sessions, hands on workshops, with 6 catered meals. Dinner for Friday night Hello's will also have speakers. Vendoring welcomed with those attending.

Speakers so far confirmed:

  • Don Downs (Apitherapy)
  • Sam Comfort (TBHs/singing/dancing)
  • Ramona Herboldsheimer (Microbe Update)
  • Bruce Brown (CC Pollen/politics)
  • Jaime de Zubeldia (TBHs vs Langs)
  • Michael Bush (Breeding/Fld Mgt)
  • James Fearnley (UK Pollen/propolis)
  • Jacqueline Freeman (Swarms/swarmketching)
Still pending for final confirmation: Krassimire Kentchev (EU -How he views Dee's bees).

The fee for meeting includes: accomodations in Lodges (with up to 6 per room dorm style, each with own bath....with bring your own sheets/bedding/blankets, w/men separate from women) for $190 per person, plus six catered meals, access to all meetings/talks/workshops, snacks/break refreshments, and also a camp liability coverage (form required to be filled out). Also no fee for vendors other then normal lodging costs for meeting/catered meals. For those not bringing own sheets/bedding/blankets doing plane travel/other, rental is available at camp office for aprox $10 per person needing.

For more information see: http://www.tucsonymca.org or visit OrganicBeekeepers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/organicbeekeepers/ or contact Dee Lusby for information/registration at: 520-398-2474 late eve.

For payment of registration per person of $190, due in advance of attending with check or moneyorder, send to Organic Beekeepers % Dee Lusby, HC 65, Box 7450, Amado, Arizona 85645, with stamped self addressed envelope, for returning receipt and more information on YMCA to sender, plus liability/medical form to be filled out. Note: $190 fee is a straight fee whether sleeping/eating at camp or not.

For general information concerning the meeting contacts are Keith Malone (Alaska) 907-688-0588, and Ramona/Dean at 978-407-3934.

6th Annual Organic Beekeepers Mtg, was in Oracle Ariz 1-3 March 2013

by Dee Lusby

As the Organic Beekeepers yahoo.com discussion group has now grown in numbers to over 5000+ members, we have put together our 6th annual meeting for an American Beekeepers Association, for beekeepers into Organic Beekeeping, to come together to associate for clean sustainable beekeeping with ZERO treatments and getting off the artificial feeds and artificial breeding parameters not in tandum with Nature.

Meeting to be held in Oracle, Arizona at the YMCA Triangle Y Ranch Camp and Retreat Center 1 - 3 March 2013.

Meeting will start Friday afternoon with signing in, with Friday Night Hello's/Dinner, run all day Saturday, and thru Sunday afternoon with keynote presentations, general sessions, breakout sessions, hands on workshops, with 6 catered meals. Dinner for Friday night Hello's will also have speakers. Vendoring welcomed with those attending.

Speakers so far confirmed:

  • Susan Rummerfield(Ituitive Beekeeping)
  • Don Downs (Apitherapy)
  • Sam Comfort (TBHs - music playing/singing)
  • Dean Stiglitz (Fld Mgt/Breeding)
  • Ramona Herboldsheimer(Microbe Update)
  • Bruce Brown (CC Pollen/politics)
  • Jaime de Zubeldia (TBHs)
  • Charlie Koenen (TBHs )
  • Laura Ferguson (Bee History)
  • Gerald Wert (Mead Making)
  • Michael Bush (Breeding/Fld Mgt)
  • Dee Lusby (history sizing/breeding/???questions/ans)

The fee for meeting includes: accomodations in Lodges (with up to 6 per room dorm style, each with own bath....with bring your own sheets/bedding/blankets, w/men separate from women) for $190 per person, plus six catered meals, access to all meetings/talks/workshops, snacks/break refreshments, and also a camp liability coverage (form required to be filled out).

Also no fee for vendors other then normal lodging costs for meeting/catered meals. For those not bringing own sheets/bedding/blankets doing plane travel/other, rental is available at camp office for aprox $10 per person needing.

For more information see: http://www.tucsonymca.org or visit OrganicBeekeepers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/organicbeekeepers/ or contact Dee Lusby for information/registration at: 520-398-2474 eve. For payment of registration per person of $190, due in advance of attending with check or moneyorder, send to:

Organic Beekeepers % Dee Lusby
HC 65, Box 7450
Amado AZ 85645

with stamped self address envelope, for returning receipt and more information on YMCA to sender, plus liability/medical form to be filled out. Note: $190 fee is a straight fee whether sleeping/eating at camp or not.

For those prefering to use paypal for prepay, this will be available again, thru beeuntoothers with Ramona/Dean, so for information for paypal call 978-407-3934. For general information concerning the meeting contacts are Keith Malone (Alaska) 907-688-0588, and Ramona/Dean at 978-407-3934.

3rd Annual Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference was in Leominster, MA July 24-29, 2012

http://beeuntoothers.com/index.php/events/2012-netfb-conference

2012 Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference: "The Practical Beekeeper" Was July 24-29 2012 Leominster, Massachusetts

Confirmed Speakers: Michael Bush, Kirk Webster, Dee Lusby, Les Crowder, Dr. Paul Arnold, Sam Comfort, Erik Osterlund, Laurie Herboldsheimer, Dean Stiglitz....More TBA!

Register Here!

2012 Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference will take place July 24-29 in Leominster, Massachusetts. Bees on site for daily hands on workshops (weather permitting), 3 amazing meals a day (prepared onsite by our talented and experienced staff from scratch) are included, nearby affordable camping available.

Beginners Intensive (not just for beginners!) July 24 and 25: Michael Bush, Sam Comfort, Ramona Herboldsheimer, Dean Stiglitz instructors. Bees and beekeeping from the treatment-free perspective. Langstroth, Top Bar and Warre styles will all be addressed. $140 (early bee price until May 15...$150 after May 15).

Field Day July 26: This is free for all attendees of either the beginners intensive or the main conference (including 3 meals). There will also be a day rate for others who wish to attend the field day only (TBA).

The evening talk (which we like to span a bit beyond beekeeping) will by by Dr. Paul Arnold, where he will speak about his specialty, "The physiological ecology of mycorrhizal fungi, the effects of toxins in mutualistic relationships between plants..." (this is all the fungi that are fed up to 20% of the plants' sugar and draw nutrients to the root system in return).

Main Conference July 27-29: Topics will be grounded with the "Practical Beekeeper" in mind. Schedule and topics TBA. $210 (early bee price until May 15...$230 after May 15).

Package Deal: All 6 Days and 18 meals $325 (early bee price until May 15...$350 after May 15).

Michael Bush (Nebraska): After two years away, we're excited to welcome Michael back to Leominster! Michael's book, "The Practical Beekeeper", website, and reprints of old beekeeping books are all most highly recommended...see his website for details. http://BushFarms.com/Bees/

Kirk Webster (Vermont): Bee breeder,honey producer and organic farmer, Kirk returns to Leominster in the middle of the build-out of his organic farm/beekeeping school. KirkWebster.com is a collection of Kirk's writings (with new ones on the way). http://KirkWebster.com

Dee Lusby (Arizona): The mother of treatment-free beekeeping, Dee manages 700 hives in the remote desert rangeland of southern Arizona. Dee runs the organic beekeepers list and the annual Organic Beekeeping Conference in Oracle Arizona. Her writings can be found on Beesource. http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/ed-dee-lusby/

Les Crowder (New Mexico): Les has been a methodical and observant keeper of Top Bar Hives (TBH) for over 25 years. His upcoming book on top bar management will be published by Chelsea Green soon. http://www.fortheloveofbees.com

Dr. Paul Arnold (Georgia): In addition to the topics listed above for his evening talk, Paul is a beekeeper, and is well known for his expertise in pollen analysis in honey. http://www.yhc.edu/pages/yhc.php?id=288

Sam Comfort (New York/Florida): Sam is (the appropriately named) Anarchy Apiarys...no rules, no boundaries. Sam always brings bees, spirit and song...if Johnny Appleseed had contracted terminal bee fever, he would have been Sam. http://anarchyapiaries.org

Erik Osterlund (Sweden): Our great friend from Sweden will again be joining us. Erik is known for his Elgon bee and breeding program, his insight, his wit, and as editor of the Swedish Beekeeping Journal. Eirk always brings us observation, critical thought, and reverance from across the pond. http://www.elgon.se/index-eng.htm/

Dean Stiglitz and Laurie Herboldsheimer (Massachusetts): Hosts of the conference, beekeepers, and authors of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Beekeeping". Since 2008, Laurie (aka Ramona) has been writing, researching, and presenting on the function, importance, and wonder of the microbial culture that lives in concert with the bees. Dean has been presenting to bee clubs on topics as diverse as queen rearing and breeding, treatment free management and honeybee photography (with cheap point and shoot equipment). New this year will be a teaching apiary (opening in April) in the Fenway Victory Gardens (about 1000' from home plate of Fenway Park). http://BeeUntoOthers.com

Updates And Forums Will Be Available At http://BeeUntoOthers.com

PLEASE NOTE: WE CANNOT OFFER REFUNDS ON REGISTRATIONS! IF YOUR PLANS CHANGE AND YOU CANNOT ATTEND, WE WILL TRY TO ASSIST YOU IN FINDING SOMEONE TO PURCHASE YOUR REGISTRATION, BUT FINDING SOMEONE AND INFORMING US IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY.

Past Meetings:

5th Annual Organic Beekeepers Mtg, was in Oracle Ariz 2-4 March 2012

by Dee Lusby

As the Organic Beekeepers yahoo.com discussion group has now grown in numbers to over 4400+ members, we have put together our 5th meeting for an American Beekeepers Association, for beekeepers into Organic Beekeeping, to come together to associate for clean sustainable beekeeping with ZERO treatments, and getting off the artificial feeds, and artificial breeding parameters contrary to Nature.

Meeting to be held in Oracle, Arizona again at the YMCA Triangle Y Ranch Camp and Retreat Center, 2 - 4 March 2012. Meeting will start Friday afternoon with Friday Night Hello's/Dinner, run all day Saturday, and thru Sunday afternoon (4pm)with keynote presentations, general sessions, breakout sessions, hands on workshops, with 6 catered meals. Dinner for Friday night Hello's will also have speakers/movie. Vendors welcomed.

Speakers so far confirmed:

  • Roy Arbon (New Zealand/In Movie Queen of Sun, talking on How to Keep Honeybees Without Treatments)
  • Don Downs (OH, on Apitherapy)
  • Dwight Detter (Whole Foods Mkt/CA, talking on Marketing Treatment Free for Local markets) w/Janet/Kelly & Bill Walter
  • Sam Comfort (NY/FL, on TBHs)
  • Jacqueline Freeman (WA/In Movie Queen of Sun, talking on "Kindness & Respect: What Happens to a Hive when Sacredness is part of Beekeeping") w/Robin Wise
  • Dean Stiglitz (MA, on Breeding and Basic Field Management)
  • Ramona Herboldsheimer (MA, on More Basics Concerning Hive Microbial Balances),
  • Daien Forrest (Hawaii, on Basic Zen and Shamanistic Bee Practices)
  • Howard & Martha Herbert (AZ, Working With Warre TBHs),
  • Bruce Brown (CC Pollen/AZ, w/Industry Updates Where Things Going)
  • Les Crowder (TBHs/management)

The fee for meeting includes: accommodations in Lebrecht/Green Lodges (with up to 6 per room dorm style each with own bath....with bring your own sheets/bedding/blankets) for $185 per person, plus six catered meals, access to all meetings/talks/workshops, snacks/break refreshments, and also a camp liability coverage (form required to be filled out). Also no fee for vendors other than normal lodging costs for meeting/catered meals.

For more information concerning meeting, visit/join OrganicBeekeepers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/organicbeekeepers/ for periodic updates prior to meeting start date, or contact Dee Lusby for information/registration at: 520-398-2474 late/eve. For payment of registration per person of $185, due in advance of attending, send to Organic Beekeepers, %Dee Lusby, HC 65, Box 7450, Amado, Arizona 85645, with stamped self-addressed envelope for returning receipt and more information on YMCA to sender, plus liability/medical form to be filled out. Note: $185 fee is a straight fee whether sleeping/eating at camp or not (offsite).

For general information concerning the meeting other contacts are Keith Malone (Alaska) 907-688-0588, and Ramona/Dean (Mass.) at 978-407-3934


The 4th Annual Meeting of the Organic Beekeepers group was Mar 4 -6, 2011 in Oracle, Arizona

by Dee Lusby

As the Organic Beekeepers yahoo.com discussion group has now grown in numbers to over 3700+ members, we have put together our 4rd meeting for an American Beekeepers Association, for beekeepers into Organic Beekeeping, to come together to associate for clean sustainable beekeeping with ZERO treatments and getting off the artificial feeds and artificial inbreeding parameters..

Meeting to be held in Oracle, Arizona at the YMCA Triangle Y Ranch Camp and Retreat Center 4 - 6 March 2011. Meeting will start Friday afternoon with Friday Night Hello's/Dinner, run all day Saturday, and thru Sunday afternoon with keynote presentations, general sessions, breakout sessions, hands on workshops, with 6 catered meals. Dinner for Friday night Hello's will also have speakers. Vendors welcomed.

Speakers:

  • Donald A. Downs - Apitherapy society
  • Kirk Anderson - Starting Chemical Free Bee Clubs
  • Bruce Brown - CC Pollen
  • James Fearnley - BeeVital Propolis - UK
  • James Hensel - Woodenware
  • Ramona Herboldsheimer - Microbes and Bees in Brief
  • Dean (Deknow) Stiglitz- Bees/breeding, Fld Mgt
  • Sam Comfort - Top Bar Management and Perspectives
  • Arthur Harvey - International Organic Inspector on Federal Proposed National Honey Stds
  • John Adams - Various different swarm/feral cutouts
  • Dee Lusby- regression, breeding, frame wiring
  • Corwin Bell - Showing Film "Bee Guardian Method - Backyard Hives" ; TB Hive Mgt
  • The widely acclaimed film Queen of the Sun: What are the bees telling us? will be shown Friday night

The fee for meeting includes: accommodations in Lodges (with up to 4 per room dorm style each with own bath....with bring your own sheets/bedding/blankets) for $175 per person, plus six catered meals, access to all meetings/talks/workshops, snacks/break refreshments, and also a camp liability coverage (form required to be filled out). Also no fee for vendors other than normal lodging costs for meeting/catered meals.

For more information see: http://www.tucsonymca.org/site/c.grLOK1PJLqF/b.691235/k.D62C/Retreat.htm or http://www.tucsonymca.org or visit OrganicBeekeepers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/organicbeekeepers/ or contact Dee Lusby for information/registration at: 520-398-2474 eve.

For payment of registration per person of $175, due in advance of attending,
send to:
Organic Beekeepers
Dee Lusby
HC 65, Box 7450
Amado, Arizona 85645

.... with stamped self address envelope for returning receipt and more information on YMCA to sender, plus liability/medical form to be filled out (will start sending back information 1st week Feb). Note: $175 per person fee, is a straight fee whether sleeping/eating at camp or not.

For general information concerning the meeting other contacts are Keith Malone (Alaska) 907-688-0588, and Ramona/Dean at 978-407-3934

The 3rd Annual Meeting of the Organic Beekeepers group was Mar 5 - 7, 2010 in Oracle, Arizona

Sorry I missed many good meetings. I've been out of the country. The NE organic meeting, the 3rd Annual Organic group meeting. For reviews try beeuntoothers site.

by Dee Lusby

As the Organic Beekeepers yahoo.com discussion group has now grown in numbers to over 3000+ members, we have put together our 3rd meeting for an American Beekeepers Association, for beekeepers into Organic Beekeeping, to come together to associate for clean sustainable beekeeping with ZERO treatments and getting off the artificial feeds and artificial inbreeding parameters..

Meeting to be held in Oracle, Arizona at the YMCA Triangle Y Ranch Camp and Retreat Center 5 - 7 March 2010.

Meeting will start Friday afternoon with Friday Night Hello's/Dinner, run all day Saturday, and through Sunday afternoon with keynote presentations, general sessions, breakout sessions, hands on workshops, with 6 catered meals. Dinner for Friday night Hello's will also have speakers. Vendors welcomed.

Speakers so far confirmed: Dean Stiglitz, Ramona Herboldsheimer, Scott McPherson, Sam Comfort, and Dee Lusby.

The fee for meeting includes: accommodations in cabins (dormitory style 6 bunks 2 singles per cabin in 4-5 cabin groupings, with bring your own sheets/bedding/blankets boy/girl scout style) for $150 per person; six catered meals, with no additional fee for attending meetings/talks, since meeting room(s) are free relative to booking of accomodations, and also a camp liability coverage (form required to be filled out). Also no fee for vendors other then normal lodging costs for meeting/catered meals.

For more information see: http://www.tucsonymca.org/site/c.grLOK1PJLqF/b.691235/k.D62C/Retreat.htm or

http://www.tucsonymca.org or visit OrganicBeekeepers at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/organicbeekeepers/ or contact Dee Lusby for information/registration at: 520-398-2474 eve. For payment of registration per person of $150, due in advance of attending, send to :

Organic Beekeepers % Dee Lusby
HC 65, Box 7450,
Amado, Arizona 85645

with stamped self address envelope for returning receipt and more information on YMCA to sender, plus liability/medical form to be filled out. Note: $150 fee is a straight fee whether sleeping/eating at camp or not. For general information concerning the meeting other contacts are Keith Malone (Alaska) 907-688-0588, and Ramona/Dean at 978-407-3934


More details will be posted as they become available.

Note, I am sorry, but due to job conflicts I (Michael Bush) will be unavailable for this year's meeting. I will miss all of you.

About:

Golden Rule Honey, LLC Presents:
Northeast Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference

Friday, July 31 through Sunday, August 2, 2009
Doyle Conservation Center
Leominster, Massachusetts
"Birthplace of Johnny Appleseed"

Written by Michael Bush

I will not attempt to get things in the correct order but I will try to give my synopsis. Some of these presentations I've heard before and talked about before so I may not go into so much depth, but they were excellent as always.

Dee Lusby did several presentations. Some of the points she made brought out a lot of questions. For instance the difference between too much inbreeding and too much mongrelization seemed to confuse some people. Inbreeding being too small of a gene pool and mongrelization being too many varied genetic lines of bees being cross bred. As always, Dee brings up many ideas that are not commonly talked about and listening to her is always thought provoking.

Erik Osterlund from Sweden did a couple of presentations. I have corresponded with him over the internet for many years now and it was really great to meet him in person. Since we were both staying at Dean and Ramona's we had time to visit and did so until after midnight most nights. The presentations were enlightening on many issues from breeding Varroa resistant bees, to beekeeping in Sweden, to many interesting references to research on many different aspects of beekeeping. He spoke of developing the Elgon bee as well as his friendship with Brother Adam and his experiences with beekeeping and with Varroa. Erik is editor of the Swedish Beekeeping journal "Bitidningen" and has several decades of experience not only in beekeeping but in presenting and writing.

Michael Palmer did his presentation on overwintering nucs. It is great to get advice from someone with actual successful experience at doing this and his case, not only for how to do it, but why to do it, is eloquent and polished. He's a practical beekeeper who has made a living at it for some time and has down to earth advice to offer.

Sam Comfort gave a longer and more polished presentation than I've seen before. That is not meant to downgrade the down to earth sharing he has done in the past but the pictures are helpful and he had a lot of those. His stripped down approach to beekeeping is refreshing and enlightening. His easy going manner is infectious.

Dean gave a couple of presentations. One was basically a more updated and polished version of the one he's given a couple of times before on issues of treatment free beekeeping and the value of our products. The other on photography which was quite enlightening. Especially since it was focused on using the kinds of cameras that most of us already have instead of focusing on special equipment.

Ramona's presentation on microbes continues to evolve and improve and the ramifications of the microbes as a positive force in the hive continue to astound me as I think of them.

I gave a combination of my "Lazy Beekeeping" and "Small Cell Management" presentations which Ramona called "Everything works if you let it". Basically I listed things I've changed to make less work in beekeeping, many of which are around not using artificial feed and not treating and expanded on those aspects a bit more than I usually do.

The sessions ran until late every night and there was still no lack of attentiveness by the participants. The energy level was high and the turnout was great. The place was pretty much full every session.

The meals were awesome. The fellowship was amazing. The late night talk sessions back at Dean and Ramona's were also great as were the several days after when Dean, Ramona, Erik and I went to Kirk Webster's and Michael Palmer's. It was great to see their methods first hand and ask questions first hand. Kirk and Michael's hospitality were great.

Thanks to all who attended and all who presented and especially to Dean and Ramona who risked their own money to make this happen without knowing even if it would break even.

Previous Organic Beekeeping Conference Oracle, AZ February 27-March 1, 2009 (Friday through Sunday)

by Michael Bush

I am very late getting this done and as such I've forgotten more than I remember. But I will attempt to give a synopsis anyway.

I don't know what the attendance was, but it seemed to be about the same as last year. As always just putting this many like minded people together is an awesome experience, even if we didn't bother with speakers. The conversations and the sharing of experiences and information at the meals and breaks was well worth the trip.

I don't remember at all, the order of anything anymore, so I'll, just break it down by speaker, as I can remember.

Dee Lusby spoke this year (she stayed more in the background last year). The information she shares can be overwhelming at times. When I first heard a lot of this information I frankly thought it was "out there", but as I researched what she said I have consistently found that no matter how far "out there" it sounds she had done her homework and these things have actually been documented and/or written about for years. The history of upsizing foundation, the problems that it has created, the issues of nutrition of natural nectar and pollen compared to sugar syrup and pollen substitute, etc. and tying them back to the old books and showing the actual references was enlightening but sometimes overwhelming.

One example of the "out there" factor for me was the change of Acarapis dorsalis to Acarapis woodi. Dee has made many references to this being caused by upsizing the bees and I thought that the concept that dorsalis became woodi was just hers, but when I checked it out I found out, although the scientist don't admit that upsizing the bees may have contributed, even the scientists are certain that is exactly what happened. Acarapis dorsalis, an external mite of the bee, made the jump to being Acarapis woodi (tracheal mites), an internal parasite of the bee. Dee's speaking is full of such ignored and overlooked facts.

We had several presentations by Sam Comfort. Sam, quite frighteningly, and yet soothingly, reminds me of me and many of my friends from the 70's. His simple uncomplicated view of things, his making do with what is free instead of what is expensive, is an inspiration. His way of gracefully flowing with the bees and his deep serenity are infectious. He even entertained us with some quaint folk music about bees. He went into some depth of how he is keeping bees in top bar hives on natural comb.

Ramona gave her, now even more expanded and more polished, presentation on microbial relationships in the hive. I had missed her last one at the one in Palm Beach, but had heard the one before that in Nebraska. It was even more polished and inspirational. If you haven't thought about it before, it's quite a paradigm shift.

Dean talked about some of the difficulties of moving to small cell and the value of our product. Again, similar, but better than his previous similar presentation at the Nebraska conference.

Arthur Harvey spoke about organic standards and quite a heated discussion followed. Dean making the point that organic certification was of no real value to him besides being practically impossible to get. Arthur making the point that we could have some input into the process and should make sure that small cell and it's concepts are included in the standards and Dee insisting that allowing anything other than small cell and no treatments was the wrong standard. Arthur pointed out that a standard that included small cell etc. was better than a standard the excluded it and that a standard that excluded all other methods was not going to happen. It got a lot of people thinking about the ramifications of being certified.

I'm know there were a couple of other people, who's names I've forgotten who gave short presentations on things like doing cut outs etc. I apologize for forgetting names (which I've always been terrible at) and I will say they were all educational and enjoyable.

I presented a few subjects from Small cell management, top bar hives, observation hives, queen rearing, lazy beekeeping etc.

By the end I think we were all overwhelmed and exhausted, but I think we all got our money's worth of information and fellowship.

Several of us, as usual, went back to Dee's and went to her yards the next few days. I had to go home the next day but went to several yards that morning. Of course the fellowship and information was again flowing.

I came home exhausted, overwhelmed and revitalized. Quite a bunch of contradictions. We will skip the airline nightmares, coming and going...

Southeast Organic Conference February 7th & 8th 2009 Saturday and Sunday

I apologize that I didn't get this in before. I've just been too swamped to keep up. We had a wonderful conference in Palm Beach Florida thanks to the tireless efforts of Brendhan Horne. The speakers there, I probably can't even list as there were several presentations going at simultaneously. But I know Brendhan presented several to the beginners as well as other people. Dee, Dean, Ramona, and I did several presentations. I did queen rearing and lazy beekeeping plus some hands on with the beginners. Dee showed a lot of information about the nutrition of honey and pollen compared to sugar syrup and substitute as well as information on the history of upsizing the foundation and the basic concepts of treatment free beekeeping. Ramona gave her presentation on microbes, which I missed because I was helping with the beginners, but I had heard it in Nebraska and enjoyed it a lot. Dean did a presentation on the problems and issues of not treating as well as marketing issues. Brendhan did one on his experiences with natural comb and not treating. It was a great turnout and a great fellowship all the way around. The Facilities were awesome as well. Brendhan was a great host and the food we had was awesome. Dean, Ramona, Dee and I had breakfast and lunch at a great little Cuban restaurant and Brendhan took us out for seafood. I had a wonderful time and wished I had time to stay another week.

In a way it sounds like a repeat of the last few organic conferences and in a way it was. It feels like Dee, Ramona, Dean and I are "on tour" as we have now done four organic meetings together (with other speakers as well, but they have changed from meeting to meeting) and have one planned for this summer in Massachusetts as well. But I think the presentations keep getting more polished and fleshed out. Looks like we will also be with even more familiar faces in Massachusetts as Sam Comfort and Michael Palmer will be speaking there as well, both of whom we have had as speakers at other conferences in the last year. I look forward to the "reunion". And then there is Eric Osterlund from Sweden, who I feel I know from reading his writings and corresponding on the organic beekeepers group for years now.

About the Nebraska Beekeepers Association: Chemical Free Beekeeping Conference November 21-23 of 2008 in Lincoln, Nebraska:

By Michael Bush

I didn't write an article on what happened at the Oracle conference this last February, not because I didn't think it noteworthy, but because Dean and Ramona wrote such a succinct, accurate and poetic description so quickly (see below). And I'm not trying to beat them to the punch this time, by any means, but I just wanted to jot down my observations while they are fresh in my mind. I hope they are doing the same. My presentations are on my web site. Just go down the left side of this page until you see "Presentations". Go down the left side of that one to "Chemical Free Beekeeping Conference" and you'll see them listed there.

The turnout was moderate. I had hoped for more, but I'd say, counting speakers it was probably near fifty people (I didn't do an actual count but 36 preregistered, plus a few registered at the door plus seven speakers). It got enthusiastic reviews from all the participants that I talked. The speakers were varied and while there was often a difference of opinions, there was much at the core that was the same. The need for local, strong queen stock and self sufficient operations where outside inputs, such as packages and queens, were not really needed ran throughout the presentations. Not only the possibility but the short and long term importance of not treating the bees became apparent. It was clear that at least at some level, all the speakers believe that treating is only breeding weak bees and disrupting the natural balance of the hive. There is no guarantee that I will get all these presentation titles correct, nor the order correct as it's a bit of a blur right now. There was so much information being presented and it was so concentrated that I'm still digesting it and I'm bound to have things a little out of order and may even have overlooked something or someone.

The speakers were:

  • Dee Lusby
  • Michael Palmer
  • Laura Tyler
  • Ramona Herboldsheimer
  • Dean Stiglitz
  • Michael Bush

Friday afternoon started with me presenting "Natural cell size" and asking, and attempting to answer the question "does small cell=natural cell" and how do either of these affect Varroa in the hive.

Dee Lusby talked about the concept of the success of chemical free beekeeping being 1/3 comb (cell size, Housel positioning, clean wax etc.), 1/3 genetics (locally adapted survivor stock), 1/3 feed (only real pollen and real honey for feed). In her homespun "I'm just an old beekeeper's wife" style she presented complex concepts that some needed some time to absorb while laying the foundation for successful keeping of bees without artificial inputs. It is really enlightening, humbling and heartening to hear her wisdom distilled down from decades of, not only beekeeping, but small cell, chemical free beekeeping. Of course in all of her presentations there is her enthusiasm for the subject, underlying her expertise.

This was followed by the down home wisdom and extensive experience of Michael Palmer sharing how he chooses and raises queens. His method of rearing is similar to, but more simplified than some I've heard and, if I get time to think it through and set it up, I'd like to try it this spring. He also reiterated the importance of locally adapted stock that can survive. His knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject is infectious.

Corwin Bell, unfortunately, did not make it due to an illness and after asking the audience if they still wanted a top bar presentation I gave one on top bar/horizontal hives. To help people see what they actually look like, Bill Lily brought two of them in the next day to show, one Kenya Top Bar Hive and one Horizontal hive.

Saturday started off with Dee talking about hive management including how to "pyramid up" to work the bees up and back down throughout the year and many other aspects of her methods and view of beekeeping. Since most of her writings available on Beesource in the POV are to do with small cell, clearing up contamination, genetics etc., it was great to see more on her management.

I knew that Ramona Herboldsheimer had a lot of information that we needed to hear about microbes in the hive and so we allocated extra time for her. She really outdid herself. I need to get the references now and look up the studies. I had been aware of the concept but only as a few specifically well known (but usually ignored) relationships such as Chalkbrood fungus preventing EFB; stonebrood fungus preventing Nosema; and Yeasts and bacteria helping to digest the pollen. I had always figured the gut microbes helped with things like Nosema. But when she started talking about not only that these things were going on, but illustrating the extent of the importance of them to the day to day functioning of the hive, and not just their relationship to diseases, and the "heritability" of it being passed on to their swarms but how often those same beneficial microbes not being found in the hive next door, I had one of the paradigm shifts that disrupts your view of the world for a while. In this case I begin to see that the success or failure of a hive might be as related to the microbes it contains as it is to the genetics of the queen. This shouldn't be too surprising as I think every queen breeder has discovered that the feeding and development of the queen has much more to do with the success of a hive than the genetics and hives that are booming are often due to things such as drifting instead of genetics. But research that the microbes in the hive varied in the same yard from hive to hive was stunning in its implications.

Laura Tyler presented her movie "Sister Bee". This carefully, poetically crafted glimpse into the heart and soul of why people keep bees was a delight to me even though I've seen it several times. Besides I get to enjoy the reactions of the audience to it. Before this film, I had never seen a movie that even approaches getting across the spiritual undercurrent of beekeeping (that beekeepers often don't even talk about, or if they do they don't know how to express it) and "Sister Bee" was far beyond my expectations of what was even possible in that direction. I'm a pretty harsh movie critic, even of movies I like and even after the several times I've seen this one, I am hard pressed to find a single thing I'd change about it. The music is inspiring, the rhythm and flow of the movie never lets you get lulled into losing interest. There is this beautiful rhythm of contrasts that uses bits of old footage of beekeeping, with chronologically appropriate music to provide pace, comic relief and just the bare necessity of basic bee biology education to give a context to what the beekeepers in the film are saying; contrasted with the beauty, energy and serenity of the bees and the relationship that each of the beekeepers in the film has with them. The film does not in any way attempt to be a film about the natural history of bees or how to be a beekeeper, or make any other point which would have detracted from its core, and yet in subtle ways it does without trying to. Needless to say, if you didn't get the picture yet, I am a huge fan of this film. There is no "wasted motion" in it. Everything there is, in Lakota terms, "hecetu yelo"-"just right". Not too much, not too little. It is very subtle, and not at all preachy about anything. I think you should all write to your local public broadcasting stations and request it by name. You should also buy it and show it to your non-beekeeping friends. If nothing else it will give them a glimpse into the appeal of bees and beekeeping and a beekeeper's relationship to the bees, to replace their current opinion of you, now that they know you keep bees, which is probably either awe that you are so brave or the nagging suspicion that you are insane to want to work with millions of stinging insects.

After that Dean Stilgitz talked about his experiences regressing and going to natural comb. As you listen to him, you are struck by his intelligence, powers of observation and eloquence. His enthusiasm is obvious also and makes him a dynamic speaker. He talked about the methods he adopted and challenges in using them. I think it was very enlightening on so many subjects to hear so many people's personal experiences, and his eloquent and frank presentation of what he and his wife Ramona have done and the direction they are taking was inspiring. He also talked about how we need to come to the realization that we have a very valuable product and we need to educate our consumers as to what we are providing and not be shy about charging what it is worth.

I followed this with a presentation that did a quick review of the previous one on Natural Cell Size, and then picked up from there with more on how to actually regress bees and not lose them to the Varroa in the process.

Most of us then went to Dean and Ramona's hotel where the hotel management had graciously agreed to let us have a party and we had pizza, talked and then watched an awesome video on the interconnectedness of the fig wasp with the fig tree and many other organisms that are in that small part of the net of life. It was another reminder of how interconnected everything is and that was a reminder how interconnected honey bees are to everything around them as well. The fellowship of the party was a wonderful experience that is far too complicated to even attempt to describe but I'm sure many of you have had similar nights of conversation with like-minded people.

Sunday we started the day with Michael Palmer presenting his method of overwintering nucs. It is a blessing to have his years of experiences as a head start to working out how to keep them here in our climate with our equipment. His presentation, as all of his were, was full of little "tips and tricks", down-home beekeeping wisdom and practical advice from out in the field. This was clearly a subject he strongly believes in, is very experienced with and one that Northern beekeepers need to get a grasp of.

This was followed by a demonstration where Dee used real boxes and frames (albeit mediums instead of deeps) to show how to work up bees by pyramiding them up. A lot of lights went on in a lot of heads when they could see it for themselves. Many people came up afterwards and said as much as well.

After that Michael Palmer gave a talk on how he manages his bees, again with many practical tips that have been perfected over decades of beekeeping in a Northern climate. Any one of them was probably worth far more than the mere price of admission for the conference.

This was followed by a very compressed version of my "Lazy Beekeeping" presentation which, while not a presentation of my management methods per se, is a presentation of some isolated techniques and changes in equipment I've made, including no chemicals and no artificial feed, that have simplified my life and saved me a lot of work. I really wanted to get the point across that chemical free beekeeping is not harder, it's easier and simpler.

After the official conference ended many of us went to my home beeyard and went through a few hives and a few nucs and hung out and talked as the bees buzzed all around us in the beeyard on a beautiful day. Michael Palmer went to catch his plane, others left and eventually the rest of us had supper and talked until the wee hours.

I want to say how grateful I am to all the speakers: Dee, Michael Palmer, Ramona, Dean, and Laura. This conference would not have been possible without them. This conference started from a plan to have Dee Lusby as a speaker for the Nebraska Beekeepers Association meeting and then grew into a three day conference and that was only possible with the generosity and effort of many people including those speakers, many of whom came on their own dime. The variety of speakers added greatly to our understanding of the bigger picture as well as keeping our interest during such an intense and concentrated three days. They all generously shared so much practical and sometimes revolutionary information that it was, at the same time, exciting and exhausting trying to absorb it all.

Thanks also, to all those who attended. Your questions, participation and enthusiasm not only improved the quality of the conference, but your hunger for knowledge, and your respectful participation is what makes it worth the while of the speakers to come to these kinds of meetings.

This was a bit more long winded than I intended but there was so much to comment on and so much I wanted to say that it was difficult to keep it this short. I can only say, quoting Blaise Pascal, "If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter."

About the Previous Organic Beekeeping Conference Oracle, Arizona February 15-17, 2008

by Dean Stiglitz
and Laurie (Ramona) Herboldsheimer

We are on our way home from Arizona after attending the first Organic Beekeeping Conference. I feel honored to have been asked to speak to this gathering of 78 beekeepers from all over the nation, (Alaska to Florida) that all keep, or want to keep bees without using chemicals. The conference was born out of the Organic Beekeeping Discussion List, which is a Yahoogroup with 1800+ members, and a history (and archive) going back to Dec 25,2000.

Breeding bees for sustainability was covered by 2 speakers, Kerstin Ebbersten, a beekeeper and the top advisor on beekeeping to the Swedish government, whose PhD thesis topic was "Bee Genetics and Breeding for Sustainable Beekeeping" and Randy Quinn, who did much of the field work and actual breeding for the Starlight and Midnight hybrid lines of bees, an accomplished queen breeder and beekeeper by any measure. Both spoke of the damage that has been done to the gene pool of honeybees by our breeding and requeening practices. Kirsten and Randy advocate keeping a lineage within a colony, let the new queen be a daughter of the current queen, and allow her to open mate within her own environment.

Randy spoke soberly of the effect that selecting for a few traits and requeening colonies en-mass with these hybrids from closely mated lines has had on the diversity of the gene pool (both from the selection on the breeding end, and in the introduction of homogenous hybrid stock into apiaries). He promoted an old (and almost never talked about) practice of requeening by making a split to ward off swarming (making sure eggs, honey and brood are present within the split). Simply wait two months, and recombine the two colonies. In most cases, you will end up with a new queen (and in those that you don't, you are likely better off with the old one).

Kirsten reminded us of what we all know, that no matter where our queens come from, there is an unbroken lineage going back millions of years from queen mother to queen mother. There is no way to maintain genetic diversity if we rear (and introduce) thousands of queens from one mother, especially if they are not open mated. A queen can "father" many brood via it's drones, but only mother a small number of queens at a time. This is protection against inbreeding as it allows successful genes to spread widely, but not too densely, as in open mating the queen will mate with up to 30 or more drones among whom there is bound to be a diversity of genes.

In his deceptively simple style, Michael Bush gave a complete overview of both queen rearing and splits (in 2 separate presentations). His talks are like his writing, with more content, detail, and depth than one would think possible with such few words, his website and PowerPoint presentations are the gold standard for diverse and common sense beekeeping practices.

Corwin Bell and Kelly Simmons showed beautifully crafted top bar hives, and spoke in detail on the management and benefits of keeping bees in a top bar system, many of us left the presentation with the desire to try this style of beekeeping, which is especially well suited for use in more populated and urban areas.

My talk focused on what organic beekeeping is (no treatments "organic" or otherwise, natural sized comb, unlimited broodnest, open mating with survivor and feral stock, and leaving plenty of stores for the bees so that feeding is not necessary), how organic approaches relate to the rest of the industry, why "organic" is not a good term for what we do, why we should keep our organization loose (without bylaws, leadership, regulations, or certification), what the benefits are (to beekeepers, farmers, conservation land, the consumer, and the planet), education, economics, the future, and a little bit of everything else.

Although the organized talks were important, the best (and most productive) part of the conference was the self organized discussion groups that manifested spontaneously from within the larger mass of beekeepers, this was truly inspirational. At least 30 states were represented, and included "wannabeekeepers", hobbyists, vendors, equipment manufacturers, sideliners, professional queenbreeders, and even active members of multigenerational migratory beekeeping families. It was clear that people were there to learn and to share, as the groups never formed around people with similar experience or experiences. One of the topics that came up again and again was our need to master the art of overwintering nucs in order to effectively raise local bees without relying so much on the package industry.

About twelve of us ended up spending a few days with Dee Lusby at her home, touring outyards, making foundation, learning more about her approach and operation, and talking bees almost 24/7 (even before the first cup of coffee)!

We all know that beekeepers are an opinionated lot, and not everyone agrees on everything. but the presence of the Lusby's thriving desert bees in their locations since 1920 without chemical treatments, and kept alive by the management practices of "now being a poor old beekeepers wife" speaks to us in a way that recommendations and research from people who do not make their living keeping bees alive and productive fail to.

On behalf of the Organic Beekeeping discussion group, I presented a hive tool to Dee engraved with the following:

"Presented to Dee Lusby to mark the occasion of the first Organic Beekeeping Conference and in recognition of the essential contributions she and Ed have made to the beekeeping community and to the bees." --The Organic Beekeeping List

Dee and her late husband, Ed Lusby, performed pioneering research, both independently and under contract to the government, on natural systems of beekeeping and especially the role of cell size in honeybees. Dee's writings are a must read for anyone looking to get away from chemical (or "organic") treatments to keep their bees alive.

The next two conferences are already in the works. In October, there will be a meeting in Nebraska (organized by Michael Bush), dates, speakers, and details TBD, and again in Oracle, AZ February 27-March 1, 2009 (Friday through Sunday). The cost for the Oracle conference will be the same as for this year ($80 including food and lodging for all 3 days). Updated information on these events will be available on the Organic Beekeeping discussion group, on many of the websites listed below, as well as in Bee Culture and The American Bee Journal.

Recordings of the formal talks can be found at our website:
http://www.BeeUntoOthers.com/

Dee Lusby's writings:
http://www.beesource.com/pov/lusby/

Michael Bush's website
http://www.bushfarms.com/bees.htm

Michaels PowerPoint presentations:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beeshas.htm

Corwin Bell's website:
http://www.backyardhive.com/

The Organic Beekeeping discussion group can be found at:
http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/Organicbeekeepers/

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