Notes from the 2012 Organic Beekeepers Conference in Oracle AZ

Nathan at the YMCA Triangle-Y Ranch in Oracle, AZ

I had the great pleasure of attending the 2012 Organic Beekeepers Conference this spring from March 2nd-4th.  I also stayed over to visit a couple of Dee Lusby’s bee yards on Monday, March 5th.

There was a group of about 70 of us there.  Most of the attendees were at the 4-5 year point as beekeepers–just like me.  Then there were the presenters who each had become an expert in their fields and had a wealth of positive experiences to share about the pathways to becoming sustainable and treatment free.

Ramona Herboldsheimer discusses microbiology in the hive.

If I were to choose a single presenter to bring back to my home beekeeper’s club (I’m a member of 3 clubs now), it would be the one titled “Microbiology in the Beehive” by Ramona Herboldsheimer.   She gave an inspiring explanation of how bacteria, yeasts, fungi, and viruses (bacteriophages) balance each other in a healthy hive.  The topic gave me the conviction to never again feed sugar, or syrup to bees again because of the upset this causes to the natural balance of microbiology.

I loved all the other presentations too.

The single greatest encouragement I came away with from this conference was from conversations held with people who are doing feral bee removals in the south.  Based on their experiences, the populations of wild bees are really increasing in Florida, Virginia, and Southern California.  I fully expect this to work it’s way north, and bring vigorous bee health to me in Western Washington!  CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) is a management problem, not a bee problem.

I’m also inspired to give a Warre style hive a try this year, and to keep things simple by trusting the bees.  It’s important for hive health to have a break in the brood cycle by allowing existing hives to swarm (or at least be split) during the season.

And, thanks to Dean Stigliz, I finally have an understanding of the haploid genetics of the honey bee!

Here are some notes and photos from the trip: Oracle2012_summary

The diverse group of 2012 Treatment free beekeepers


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