Kat and I met in a parking lot in Leominster, Mass in 2011. She in her beat-up old little 1/4 tonne that she had driven from Oregon earlier that summer and me, sunburnt with a men’s buttoned up shirt on covered in propolis rolling out of a truck exhausted from moving bees across the NW with Sam Comfort (anarchyapiaries.org). It was love at first sight you could say. We were both there for the NE Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference. In the four days that I had a chance to connect with Kat, I am proud to have had even that short opportunity, as she is a woman of many skills and wonders.
Kat was in the NW working with Kirk Webster, a well respected and renound queen breeder in Vermont. She went out there to learn what she could about beekeeping, as she had decided previously that year to leave her job as a helicopter pilot and become a woman of the earth- the bees that is. In the fall of 2011, she helped Sam Comfort move his bees down south to Georgia and worked removing rogue honeybee colonies from buildings and easements in Florida!
Then in the spring of 2012, Kat began Bliss Honeybees out of Medford, OR. Eager supporter of treatment-free beekeeping and top bar hive management, Kat now has many colonies of her own as she worked this past 2012 summer season aiding in pollination contracts on the west coast. Click here to read about her ridiculous adventures!
This past fall she left stateside and headed down-under to New Zealand in her pursuit of beekeeping knowledge. She worked with Dr. Lynn Royce on hygienic testing and breeding. Here are some of her own words on the process.
So, what is next for Kat and us? Well, here is the BIG NEWS that she is offering us!
NORTHWEST TREATMENT FREE BEEKEEPING CONFERENCE
The goals for this conference are:
1) To build community through shared positive experiences and socializing
2) To share and learn bee knowledge
3) To make contacts and resources for support after you return home
4) To make friends!
*Register by January 1st for $60.00 savings!
Note * I am still working out the details, but the schedule will look something like this:
Friday 7:00pm: registration, mix and mingle, snacks. Alcohol is allowed but you must bring it yourself. Non-alcoholic drinks provided.
Saturday 7:30am: Breakfast
Saturday 8:30am-12:30pm Speakers and outdoor demonstrations
Saturday 12:30pm-1:30pm: Lunch
Saturday 1:30pm-5:30pm: Speakers and outdoor demonstrations
Saturday 5:30pm-6:30pm: Dinner
Saturday 7:30pm: Professional musician Timothy Sellers plays a bee themed show!
Saturday evening: socializing in the dorm open space. Non-alcoholic drinks provided. Bring your own adult beverages.
Sunday 7:30am: Breakfast
Sunday 8:30am-12:30pm: Speakers and outdoor demonstrations
Sunday 12:30pm-1:30pm: Lunch
Sunday 1:30pm-3:30pm: Speakers and outdoor demonstrations
Sunday 3:30pm: goodbye and mix and mingle for those who can stay later
*listed in the order they confirmed participation
Dr. Tom Seeley, Cornell University
Dr. Seeley is a Cornell professor and author of the books “Wisdom of the Hive” and “Honeybee Democracy”. If you haven’t read them-do! They are fascinating and perfectly marry science, culture, practical applications and fascinating information about bees.
For more information about Dr. Seeley, visit:
Kirk Webster, Champlain Valley Bees and Queens
Kirk Webster is the nation’s leading treatment-free queen producer. By “leading” I mean first and best, not necessarily that he is the most prolific. Kirk chooses to keep his apiary at a size that is manageable for himself and one or two apprentices. He went treatment-free long before anyone else and his apiary has been totally treatment-free for over 10 years. I spent last summer in Vermont with Kirk and I can attest that he is one of the few people in the world who is exactly what he appears to be: a kind, wonderfully knowledgeable, grounded person who lives his life with uncompromising integrity and care for his bees, the earth, and humanity’s future.
Kirk is someone I admire and respect tremendously, and I am so pleased to bring him to the NW so you can meet him too :^)
To read more about Kirk, visit:
Melanie Kirby, Zia Queen Bees
Melanie Kirby has been a professional beekeeper for 13 years and has specialized in raising queen bees for the past 11 years. She began her career as a Beekeeping Extension Volunteer with the United States Peace Corps after which she worked for two companies on the Big Island of Hawaii learning grafting and queen rearing. In Florida, she learned about nucleus and package bee production. Following these experiences, she committed her energies and skills towards beginning Zia Queenbee Company, a beekeeping enterprise that is progressive, innovative and ethical. Melanie is a powerhouse of energy and information, and I am greatly looking forward to meeting her next July! For more information about Melanie and Zia Queenbee Company, visit:
Dr. Lynn Royce, Tree Hive Bees
Ok, I gushed about Kirk Webster on the East coast and now I’m going to gush about our own: Oregon’s Dr. Lynn Royce. Lynn is simply amazing. She is a scientist, an inventor, and a person who cares deeply about pollinators and the planet. Lynn is involved in multiple projects to improve pollinator health. She is currently engaged in a native pollinator bumblebee research project. She is also starting what she calls her “Tree Bee” project in which she is placing hives into trees and testing their health over time. The premise of this project is that bees are not evolved to live in concentrated populations on the ground as commercial apiaries are run, but rather for colonies to be distributed over a greater area and to live in trees. Lynn also works with John Jacob to raise instrumentally inseminated survival stock queens.
All that, and she is the only beekeeper I know besides me who holds a pilot’s license. Lynn is one tough lady in a teeny tiny package and I think she is fabulous!
To hear about the hygienic queen freeze kill testing that I recently did with Dr. Royce, check out:
Eliese Watson, Apiaries and Bees for Communities
Eliese is all about social creatures-not just bees but people too! Eliese runs Apiaries and Bees for Communities out of Calgary. I met Eliese at the natural beekeeping conference in Massachusetts last summer, and she is one of those rare people who is both extraordinarily knowledgeable about her subject, and also an outstanding educator. Not only that, but she lights up a room, a conference, an apiary and the world with her amazing spirit, beautiful smile, vibrance, enthusiasm and kindness. About her business, Eliese says, “A.B.C is dedicated to bringing small scale, hobby apiaries to urban spaces through educational programming, mentorship, and community engagement projects.”
For more information about Eliese and A.B.C. Bees, visit:
Dr. Deborah Delaney, University of Delaware
Dr. Delaney is professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at University of Delaware. She has done some fascinating work on population genetics of honey bees in the United States and genetic characteristics of unmanaged honey bee populations. I can’t wait to hear her speak about what she has learned and how we can apply that to keeping bees treatment-free!
For more information about Dr. Delaney, visit
Les Crowder, For the Love of Bees
Les Crowder has been a beekeeper for over thirty years. Over time, he developed his own design for topbar hive and became a strong advocate for natural topbar beekeeping, and he has been chemical free for over fifteen years. Breeding queens from his resistant hives, combining genetics from Russian Mite Resistant bees, and catching feral bees that showed resistant genetics helped him to build his hive stock back to its original size after he lost almost his entire apiary when Varroa appeared. Les also spent five years as the NM Honeybee Inspector and five years as the President of the NM Beekeepers Association. He has been teaching beekeeping classes since 1983. In 2009, he received the best instructor award at the NM Organic Farming conference. He is well-beloved by students and colleagues alike for his love of bees and nature, his gentle teaching methods, and his generous spirit. We are very lucky that Les has agreed to join us in the Pacific Northwest for our first treatment-free conference!
For more information about Les and top bar hives, or his order his book, which fellow speaker Matt Reed wrote to me is “the best book on top bar hives out there,” check out his website at http://www.fortheloveofbees.com
Matthew Reed, Bee Thinking
Matthew Reed is the owner and founder of Bee Thinking out of Portland, Oregon, where he sells horizontal top bar and warre hives and teaches classes. Matt writes, “the chief end of beekeeping should be to provide the bees with the ideal environment in which to thrive. To do this, the beekeeper must engross his or her mind with a wide range of bee-related information detailing the bee lifecycle, history, hive design, management and innumerable other topics of importance. Without this knowledge, it is unlikely that the bees or the keeper will have success in their endeavors. In addition to book knowledge, it is of utmost importance that beekeepers spend time watching their bees. Not dousing them with chemicals, moving them around, splitting them, marking them or otherwise incessantly pestering them, but simply watching them. One can learn a tremendous amount about the health and strength of the colony simply by watching the entrance.”
Dr. Sujaya Rao, Oregon State University
Dr. Rao is a researcher at Oregon State University who studies, among other topics, native bee pollinators. She has a reputation for being a great speaker and a lot of fun, and I’m very excited to hear about her Fulbright program in Ecuador, where she is researching agricultural chemicals and wild bees.
For more information about Dr. Rao, visit
SPECIAL GUEST: Timothy Sellers
Timothy Sellers from the band Artichoke will be joining us from LA on Saturday night to play a set all about honeybees! For more info about Artichoke, visit: