In order to continue publishing episodes from the story of my apiary, and to explore the issues I think are most important-- without interference, editing or censorship-- I've decided to start publishing my contributions on-line, and to pull into one place all the things I have written since 2005. That year marks the point at which I became convinced that varroa mites and commercial beekeeping could co-exist without intervention, and that even an out-of-balance parasite like varroa still shares the same best purpose with all other pests and diseases: to clearly show where our methods are unbalanced or poorly adapted; and the path back to balance, stability, resilience and health.
My own chief interest and priority is always to work directly with the bees and other living things, so that I can make a quiet living as a farmer, and remain as much as possible in continuous association with Nature. I have no interest in trying to prove that my methods are better than anybody else's. As far as I can tell, real success in farming of any sort always depends on steady work and attention, directed by each individual's special gifts and abilities. The only secret that all good farmers share is that they somehow make their crops, livestock and the place where they live and work more important than themselves.
However, because I like children and young people, and because our society is moving rapidly down the well-worn path that all past civilizations have followed to their destruction, I feel obligated to at least point out that there are alternatives; there are ways to live in a creative fashion rather than a destructive one, and that not everyone needs to live according to the dictates of greed and self-aggrandizement. I've tried to describe the choices we're faced with now in several places in these journals. The only thing I'll repeat here is my conclusion that changes in the way we think about and do the most basic things are far more important than any changes in the tools or techniques used for beekeeping, or anything else.
The information diarrhea of the internet is quite too much for my slow and weak mental digestion, so I'm grateful to my friends for setting up this website, and for adhering to my requests that all material here is unedited, can be downloaded without cost, and is not for resale in any form. I retain the copyrights.
Much of the material written before 2011 was published originally in a slightly different form in the American Bee Journal and Bee Culture. Each article is identified by the year in which it was written, and the years are represented here in reverse chronological order, with a photo gallery separating the most recent contributions from the older ones. As always, genuine comments and inquiries by phone, snail mail or carrier pigeon are welcome. I wish you all the best with your bees, and may they bring as much happiness and discovery into your life as they have into mine.
Ideally, the material should be read in the order it is presented below...this index will appear at the bottom of every page. There are Print, PDF, and Email buttons on all pages.
OPPORTUNITIES TO VISIT AND WORK WITH US AT CHAMPLAIN VALLEY BEES AND QUEENS
Every year I get many requests to visit and/or to work here in the apiary-- to see in person an apiary operating successfully for many years without treatments, and to learn something about making a living and having a nice lifestyle based around this work. After spending three years establishing the apiary's home base in a new location, I now have the time and resources to honor at least some of these requests, and possibly help a few new commercial beekeepers get started with a solid, nature-based model, and an understanding of the successful small farmer's lifestyle. The following three options represent a sort of sliding scale from public, open house events at one end, to a search, at the other, for the very few people who could thrive in a way of life based on the works of Nature-- even within and alongside the current predatory and destructive American culture. Each of these events has been planned and scheduled to maximize the opportunities for learning and sharing in the time allotted, and to avoid conflicts with the important annual work in the apiary. This is a busy, hardworking place--supported entirely by bees and honey--with things needing attention almost every day. So, it's hard for me to accommodate visitors at other times. Thanks for your consideration.
1. Two open house field days: April 25, and July 25, 2015; rain or shine--9:00 AM to 4:00 PM, rain or shine. 1437 South Street, New Haven, Vt. 05472
These are open to the public and there is no charge or pre-registration. The dates were chosen to show the apiary at its apparent weak point (April) and its apparent strong point (July). (Those who are gathering evidence to show that commercial beekeeping without treatments is impossible will probably want to come in April; those already convinced that this type of beekeeping is easy and always good news should come in July. For all others with a serious interest, I recommend coming to both.) Hopefully, these are relaxed, informal events which can accommodate beekeepers of all skill and experience levels. Weather permitting, we'll be able to examine colonies and describe the process of making spring and summer nucs. There should be plenty of time for both beginner and advanced questions and discussions. Very likely we will visit another beeyard in addition to the home farm. Bring a veil, bag lunch and some water to drink, and rain gear if the weather is inclement.
2. The 8-Day Workshop: Late June.
The productive potential of this apiary is tapped and developed by an 8-day cycle of queen rearing and nuc making, which continues for seven weeks during mid-summer. This workshop enables up to five people to work through one whole cycle with me and my local helpers. It is intended for those who already have experience handling bees, and would like to greatly increase their ability to produce nucs and queens during a short growing season. Everyone will participate in each step of the process, (except grafting, which only takes up a few hours each week, and which you have to learn by practicing at home anyway.) There should also be time to see how the production of nucs and queens supports honey production in a non-migratory, northern apiary. For someone interested in a long-term apprenticeship, this would be a good way to see if there is a good fit between you and my apiary. There is a fee for this workshop, and simple housing/camping is available on site. Limited to five participants. Please contact me by phone or snail-mail for more information or to apply.
3. Long-Term Apprenticeships:
For someone seriously interested in 1-2 years of training in Nature-oriented beekeeping as a vocation and way-of-life. This is my attempt to find the few young people in America today who could actually do this; to train them the way I wish I had been trained; and to help them establish their own apiaries in their home locations. Please contact me for more information.