A.B.C Goes to 2011 Natural Beekeeping Conference: Leominster, Mass.

I made it! We, Sam Comfort and I, arrived in the open and freshly cut field behind the conference centre at about 4am; the crack of dawn. We had moved 3 bee yards and then loaded up 1 top-bar hive and 4 warre hives, taking them to Mass. from upstate NY. I hate to say it, but I slept while Sam rubbed his eyes, and scratched his head to keep awake. I am not used to the sleepless bee-frezied nights as Sam is. He is a night owl. He knows how to run on like a clock hand!  But, we made it, and in one whole peice, without too many stings and scratches!

After the bees were unloaded and in the yard set up for the conference, we layed down like hobos under a tree with nothing but a bee coat as a blanket (American Airlines kept my bag and couldn’t get it back to me for the week, so I was clothes-less and sleepingbag-less for the first week of the trip) and get a hour or so of shut-eye. After we awoke we went to Dean and Ramona’s (Laurie) for coffee. They are the founders of the Northeastern Natural Beekeeping Conference and authors of The Complete Idiots Guide to Beekeeping. We set up the house for the coming speakers and prepared for the coming day.

The first two days were the bee-ginners beekeeping course, and I was pleased to be able to co-teach with Sam Comfort and Dean Stiglitz! There were  20 newbees and ALOT of inforamtion and hands-on. We got in the beehives that we brought from Sams yards!

I was pleased to present along side beekeeping pioneers and gurus such as:

Dee Lusby: Dee and her late husband Ed are the pioneers of treatment-free beekeeping. Since Ed’s death in 2006, Dee has continued the management of their 700+ honey producing colonies in the Arizona desert where she raises her own queens, builds all her own equipment and produces her own small cell wax foundation. Dee owns the Organic Beekeepers list on Yahoo (which she maintains with a dial-up internet connection) where she shares a wealth of beekeeping information and history.


Kerstin Ebbersten: Retired from her position as the top honeybee scientist with the Swedish government, Kerstin’s dissertation was on breeding honeybees for sustainability. We are looking forward to hearing her perspectives on breeding, and she is also excited to share information on epigenetics and honeybees.


Kirk Webster: Known for his writings in ABJ and Bee Culture over the years, Kirk is a one of a kind. Kirk’s perspective is that beekeeping and farming are inexorably linked, and one cannot be practiced without the other (and that both are incompatible with the pace modern technologies imposes upon us). Kirk runs a lean, self-sustaining operation in Vermont, where he produces honey, nucleus colonies and queens. Kirk pioneered the modern use of overwintering double nucs with summer queens in New England (as practiced by Kirk as well as Michael Palmer). You simply cannot argue with a beekeeper with low overhead and ae history of always running a profit, even in a poor year.

Chris Baldwin: Chris is the only treatment free beekeeper that we know who is migratory (he travels between South Dakota, Texas, and California to the almonds!). As a producer of bees and honey, Chris will talk about the unique challenges migratory beekeeping presents to treatment free beekeeping practices, and the nuts and bolts of what makes his operation work. Chris came to the conference last year as an attendee and his impromptu talks were so well received that we convinced him to come back this year as a full-fledged speaker!


Erik Osterlund: He’s not only a commercial honey producer and breeder, but also is the editor of the Swedish beekeeping journal. Erik brings a European perspective on treatment free beekeeping to Leominster, and is the only beekeeper we know who transitioned to small cell in anticipation of varroa mites. Erik developed and breeds his own line of Elgon bees and has traveled extensively around the world in the pursuit of better beekeeping and better bees. ” By Carol Lake

I, Eliese Watson, had the opportunity to speak alongside Tim Oneal and Sam Comfort and present my information about community development and ‘how to build the hive mentality’ in beeclubs and community organizations as well as what we have been developing here in Calgary!  It was awesome!

I wanted to thank Dean and Ramona, Sam and Tim, for the fun, support and collaboration that took place at the conference! I am so excited about the connections I made and eager to invite some of these beekeepers up to Calgary for guest speaking opportunities! Look forward to 2012 A.B.C season!

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