Join 11 diverse Queen bee Breeders from around the country as they share their approach and process in a first-ever queen breeding from coast to coast panel! Webinar starts at 10am- 3pm MST. The first half will feature presentations on core concepts to queen breeding including What it is, How it is done, Why is it important. The second half will feature the Who and the Where including Eric McEwen of Diggin’ Livin’ (OR), Ang Roell of They Keep Bees (MA & FL), Aiden Wing of Wings of Nature Bees (CA), Tucka Saville of Tucka Bee, LLC. (NY & FL), Mark Spitzig of LongeviBees by Zia (MI & NM), Megan Mahoney of Mahoney Queens & Bees (TX & ND), John Jacob of Old Sol Enterprises (OR), Emily Bondor of Santa Cruz Bee Co. (CA), Sam Comfort of Anarchy Apiaries (FL & NY), Melanie Kirby of Zia Queenbees (NM & WA), and Zachary Lamas of Rock Star Queens (MD).
Each presenter will share their program process and approach to queen breeding. This is an event to highlight the diverse applications and the rising Agents of Change as they adapt to shifting climate, changing society, fluctuating markets, a challenged industry and learn that camaraderie is the best medicine as we all work together- Beekeepers United to affect positive change and create a path of resilience and fortitude for now and future generations of beekeepers.
About the panelists:
John Jacob, founder @oldsolbees Enterprises (est 1997). He served as president of So. Oregon Beekeepers Assoc. from 2004-2018 and is now a lifetime honorary member. Currently, John is serving his third term as President of the Oregon State Beekeepers Association. Old Sol has specialized in bee breeding and finding innovative, sustainable agricultural solutions such as dual use solar, known as agrivoltaics. John’s educational background includes a BS in biology, with minors in Chemistry and Economics from Southern Oregon State University. Old Sol’s business endeavors include queens, nucs, commercial pollination, honey, mead making, and consulting for pollinator habitat development and the beekeeping industry. Old Sol is the largest commercial queen producer in the state of Oregon and has built a highly respected national brand. Old Sol Enterprises has pioneered disease resistant bee breeding and innovative solutions for utility scale solar dual use operations such as the development of four 10-15 megawatt solar pollinator habitat sites. John’s core values include: “Through knowledge, wisdom, education, and innovation Old Sol strives to reduce the negative impacts of modern agriculture in an effort to preserve biodiversity and quality of life for all generations, in all regions by implementing and sharing healthy farming practices whenever and wherever possible. In essence Old Sol Enterprises leads by example and demonstrates that healthy sustainable food production can be profitable.”
Emily Bondor- Apiarist and Educator. She started queen rearing with the Maui Queen Bee Company in 2013 and from 2014-2020 worked with the Napa Valley Bee Company. Emily started the Santa Cruz Bee Company in 2015. Through the business, Emily mentors new beekeepers, provides full-service hive management in the San Fran and Monterey Bay Area, and teaches beekeeping courses through the local community college and UC Santa Cruz.
Santa Cruz Bee Company has a small scale queen-rearing operation that mainly utilizes walk-away splits and harvesting queen cells from recently-swarmed hives. Since SCBC is a treatment-free operation, implementing additional brood breaks by way of splits helps control Varroa mite loads. Check out Emily’s beekeeping efforts @santacruzbeeco
Zac Lamas is the owner of RockStar Queens where he produces open mated carnionlans in central Maryland. He is a Ph.D. student in the Hawthorne Lab at the University of Maryland where he studies varroa feeding behavior and how pesticides affect honey bee queens. His current work uncovered how varroa is actively feeding and switching from one adult bee to another. Zac also created a novel method to rear honey bee queens in the lab, that he hopes will eventually help lower the cost of pesticide research on queens. He was the recipient of a Project Apis m-Costco award. As a fellow, he is continuing to research these topics. His articles can be found in BeeCulture and BeeWorld magazines, and he actively speaks at bee clubs and professional conferences. Zac previously worked for Michael Palmer at French Hill Apiaries in Saint Albans, Vermont. He spends his off hours hiking and enjoying the outdoors and building incredibly interesting things: lately, his new home-away-from-home/mobile lab for off season touring and data analysis! Check out Zac’s instagram @sunday_farmer
Megan Mahoney has been fascinated by honey bees ever since being fortuitously introduced to them in Marla Spivak’s lab in 2003. Her enthusiasm for bees, beekeepers, and bee breeding has grown over time, and inspired her to build up a repertoire of beekeeping experiences and skills across the US and other parts of the world. She has worked with bees in many different capacities, from top bar hives in the backyard, to pest and disease monitoring for commercial beekeepers with thousands of hives. She has worked with commercial queen producers, package producers, pollinators and migratory honey producers, as well as learning instrumental insemination techniques and working with national bee breeding/selection programs. In 2019, she and her partner (Ross Klett), founded a bee breeding company “MaHoney Bees and Queens,” and are currently managing a satellite breeding population within a larger migratory beekeeping company. Specializing in Instrumental Insemination, breeder queens, and selection models, they travel (with the bees) between South East Texas and Central North Dakota. Check out Megan’s bee breeding efforts @mahoneysbeesandqueens
One of our most righteous brethren panelists is Aiden Shiwa Wing of @wingsofnaturebees a regenerative beekeeping company based in Pescadero California. Wings of Nature produces high-grade artisanal honeys, produces nucleus colonies, and works hand-in-hand with farmers to provide pollination of their crops. Aidan also specializes in queen breeding. He has designed a breeding program to help improve honey bee stock by selecting for mite-resitance, resilience, gentleness and productivity. In 2018 Aidan received a grant thru Western Sustainable Agriculture Research Education to research and share his breeding program. The following year he traveled to Montreal to share his program at the Apimondia World Beekeeping Conference. Aidan believes that beekeeping is a key role in a much bigger land-based regenerative agriculture solution to the environmental mental degregation our planet is facing. Aidan works with like-minded farmers and ranchers to help support soil regeneration, habitat preservation, diversity and carbon sequestering. As a life-long student of permaculture, Aidan strives to integrate permaculture principals and ethics into his own company. Aidan lives with his two children in the hills of Pescadero. Before becoming a beekeeper Aidan worked as commercial fisherman, carpenter, natural builder, farmer and musician.
Ang Roell and Bi Kline of They Keep Bees – a nonbinary led beekeeping business. Ang got started in beekeeping studying with Jean Claude Bourutt in Boston and was a co-founder of the Tour de Hives and the Boston Area Beekeepers Association. They learned queen production methods from Kirk Webster (Vermont). They’ve visited the behemoth hives of Dee Lusby in AZ and worked with Sam Comfort’s innovative small box hives in FL & NY. Bi (pronounced “bee”) Kline joined the team in 2020 after a decade working as an educator. They have worked with and learned from Sam Comfort over the past two seasons. In 2020, Ang and Bi went into COVID locked down while living in their van on top of 2 weeks worth of rice and beans and raising bees in the Allapattah Flatlands on the Central Coast of Florida. Ang and Bi currently raise queens in Central FL & Western MA and select for adaptive bees for both bio regions who demonstrate Varroa resistance. They were recently awarded a Northeast Sustainable Ag Research and Education (NESARE) Grant in collaboration with Sam Comfort to conduct a NE Queen Bee School teaching methods from their collective research on novel queen rearing methods for their region. Ang likes to ponder the question, “If all beekeeping is “treatment,” what are the best practices for living in relationship with bees while making a living from working with bees?” Follow Ang & Bi @theykeepbees
Eric McEwen heads the beekeeping operation for @digginlivin located in the Illinois River Valley of Southwest Oregon. Eric and his wife, Joy, steward beehives from the Applegate Valley to the East, and to the Smith River drainage west to the coast. They have kept bees here for 18 years after moving south from Corvallis, OR where he and Joy met attending Oregon State University and were gifted their first hive by students from the OSU Honeybee Lab. Eric specializes in the development of organic management practices for their 700 colonies. He and Joy craft a whole line of value-added honeybee products including varietal honeys, beeswax candles, a line of honey-based medicines, propolis tincture, and a line of Jun kombucha (made with honey of course)! In addition to nurturing bees and a family, Eric and Joy also run a natural market and organic kitchen cafe @digginlivinstore . He has been a mentor for the OSU Master Beekeeper Program, and currently serves as Southern Oregon Representative on the Oregon State Beekeepers’ Association’s Administrative Board. He is also the designer and manufacturer of Natural Nest Beehives, a line of 8-frame Langstroth equipment for organic beekeeping packed with features. Eric is also a trained naturalist, and loves the wild side of the great outdoors.
Tucka navigates the compass- running about 300 colonies in Upstate NY and South Florida. Her primary mentors are Mike Palmer in upstate Vermont and Sam Comfort, creator of the Comfort Hive. She produces about 1000 queens per year, plus some honey and wax. She shares her love of bees with enthusiasts near and far via workshops, presentations, and international trainings. She also enjoys standing in swarms, swimming in rivers, and long days queen-catching with her pup in the sun. It’s a pirate’s life with bees! Zzb. Follow Tucka’s adventures @tucka.bee
Here’s the Wizard behind the Curtain- making sure all the bees are loved and thriving. This is Mark Spitzig of LongeviBees by Zia (as he calls himself). Mark is part of the dynamic duo or die-o of @ziaqueenbees He hails from da U.P.-eh (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) and began keeping bees 21 years ago with two packages, 2 books, and 2 buddies. After a couple years, his buds found other interests and was left with swarms hanging in the basswood trees and thought, “I need to go work for a professional!” And the rest is history… He grew his (Lake) Superior Honey Farms up to 50 hives and was supplying the local Marquette Food Coop with pure, raw, basswood and wild berry honeys. Then he decided to try the migratory meandering map and took his flock to Florida for the winter for a few years to make orange blossom honey in the winter and learn to make starter nucleus hives, queens, and packages at Honey Land Farms under the tutelage of Garry Orescovich. That’s where he met Melanie and they teamed up to establish Zia Queenbees as a sister op to Superior Honey Farms. SHF shared its initial winter-hardy survivor bee stock with ZQB and the two farms shared resources and personnel (2 people- Mark & Mel) developing trans-regional “Father Time Tested~Mother Nature Approved” resilient bees that can handle sincere winters, dry deserts, and wavy coasts. From the shores of Lake Superior to the banks of the Rio Grande. Flash forward 16 years and two children later and Mark is still to bee found kneeling in his outdoor church-office, loving his bees and helping to raise his children- Buzz & Blossom (code names used to protect the wizard’s social media innocence)!
After winning 6 hives in a poker game, Sam Comfort worked for several years in commercial beekeeping across America. He started Anarchy Apiaries in 2005 to explore permaculture ideas of low input natural cycles. He breeds queen bees from hardy survivors, experiments with splitting techniques, and messes around with hive designs. So the mission is to 1) make more beehives than there are televisions, and 2) have a good time, all the time (with bees). Anarchy Apiaries runs around 1000 hives that split seasonally into around 2000 mating nucs with no treatments, minimal feeding, and do-it-yourself hive boxes in New York and Florida and spots in beetween. Through teaching independent, biological beekeeping, he hopes to really mess up the paradigm. Follow Sam @anarchyapiaries
And, there’s me- Melanie Kirby. The bees found me by assignment when I enlisted as U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and was stationed in Paraguay, South America in the late 90s. I became fascinated and over the following 6 years I began working for several commercial operations on the Big Island of Hawaii and in Florida where I learned about rearing queens, package and nuclei production, and varietal honey harvesting. I met the Wiz while working for a migratory beekeeper in Florida and we ended up doubling his numbers and migrating with the bees between Michigan and Florida and then Michigan and New Mexico- my home state. Somehow I convinced him to bring bees to NM and so together we established Zia Queenbees Farm & Field Institute in the southern Rocky Mountains which specializes in longevity-based selection and breeding. The bees have taken me around the globe as I’ve had blessed opportunities to work with bees from South to Central to North America, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, the Mediterranean, North Africa and Europe. There’s always something new to learn about keeping bees and despite our locational differences, our love of these fuzzy winged angels unites us. Follow my journey @nectarnomad