2018 Conference Speaker Bios and Talk Abstracts

Jennifer Berry
For over 18 years, Jennifer Berry has been the Apicultural Research Professional and Lab Manager for the University of Georgia Honey Bee Program. Her research objectives have focused on queen breeding, improving honey bee health, the sub-lethal effects of pesticides on beneficial insects and IPM techniques for varroa and small hive beetle control.

More recently, Jennifer has undertaken several ambitious campaigns to educate people from all walks of life. She volunteers in Central and South America to teach women and young teens the art of beekeeping in order to start their own businesses or enhance opportunities for better employment. Jennifer has also been instrumental in launching the Georgia Beekeeping Prison Program by certifying inmates through the University of Georgia Master Beekeeper Program. In little over a year, 5 prisons have been added to the fold and are now teaching beekeeping behind bars. She is also dutifully educating the public about the importance of pollinators and other beneficial insects and how to encourage their populations.

Jennifer is a somewhat regular columnist for Bee Culture magazine and occasionally for other publications across the pond. She travels extensively to speak to local, state, national and international students, groups and beekeeping associations. On weekends and evenings, Jennifer operates Honey Pond Farm, a honey bee venture which strives on rearing healthy bees and selecting queens for varroa tolerance, brood production, gentleness, and longevity. Several times a year she sells nucleus colonies and teaches how to rear superior queens and keep bees alive at her farm in Georgia.
Ron Bitner

Dr. Bitner has been involved with non-Apis Bee management for more than 35 years. He has been growing vineyards for 37 years for his high end wines for Bitner Vineyards Winery. He currently is part of the Bee Friendly Farming committee with the National Pollinator Partnership. Bees, vine and wine. It does not get any better.

Saturday's Annual Banquet Dinner will be at the beautiful Bitner Vineyards.
Dr. Jerry Bromenshenk
Changes in Beekeeping---
A Backward Look into the Future

Jerry J. Bromenshenk, University of Montana and Bee Alert Technology, Inc.

Fifty years, I embarked on a life-long path of discovery about insects, those six-legged, Lilliputian animals that we cavalierly designate as beneficial or pests. Unfortunately, it’s only now that I understand how clueless I was about not knowing how much I didn’t know, especially about honey bees. Looking back, I recognize that: (1) I know things now that I couldn’t have anticipated 50 years ago; (2) What I expected from research and education and what was accomplished vacillates between endless repetition of forgotten lessons to unimaginable leaps of innovation, with a preponderance of claims of newer and better, that are neither; (3) What I see as remaining to be done may soon be eclipsed by fundamental changes in the approach and underlying assumptions of research, education, and beekeeping; (4) What I anticipate for the very near future are opportunities to establish fundamental changes in the practices of research, education, and beekeeping management, along with start-ups of a diverse array of new enterprises and businesses relative to beekeeping, bees, and insect pollination; and (5) finally, after looking back, what advice I wish someone had told me 50 years ago.

Jerry has a Ph.D. Entomology, minor in Chemistry/Biochemistry, Montana State University, Bozeman, 1973
44 years of worldwide research and education focused on Honey Bees.

Grew up on a livestock feedlot and dairy farm near Billings, MT. Originated use of honey bees as wide area environmental sentinels and monitors (1974-2003). Integrated use of citizen science and geo-spatial statistics in combination with honey bees to achieve landscape level mapping of pollution sources, dispersion patterns, and impacts to bee colonies (1985). Brought about EPA-approved, bee-based protocols for Ecological Assessments at Hazardous Waste Sites (1989). Team leader with Colin Henderson for projects that produced (1) electronically monitored Smart Hives®, (2) microprocessor-controlled operant training systems for conditioning bees®(2005), (3) LIDAR for honey bee position and density mapping over fields with decimeter resolution® (2004, 2009, and 2011), and (4) acoustic recording and analysis® for monitoring colony health, including detection of exposures to toxic chemicals, presence of honey bee diseases, and prevalence of honey bee pests such as queen less colony, Africanized colony, Nosema spp. and mites (2009). Developed Infrared imaging as a management tool for beekeepers. With Scott Debnam and Phillip Welch, developed the first Master Beekeeping Program (2012) specifically designed to be an ADA compliant, media-rich, three level course for internet delivery. The program has now has reached all of the states in the US, all Provinces in Canada, and over a dozen other countries. A total of 814 Certificates of completion has been issued to successful graduates of these courses. Currently engaged in contract research in New Zealand. Primary focus, at the moment, is beta testing of an acoustic scanning APP for the detection and identification of bee pests and diseases.
Dewey Caron
Dr Dewey M. Caron is Emeritus Professor of Entomology & Wildlife Ecology, Univ of Delaware, & Affiliate Professor, Dept Horticulture, Oregon State University. He spent 40+ years teaching, doing bee extension and bee research at Cornell (1967-70), University of MD, College Park (1970-1981) and University of DE, Newark DE (1981-2009).
With retirement in 2009, he moved to Portland, Oregon to be closer to 5 grandkids. He spends 3-4 months each year in Bolivia, where he keeps Africanized bees and teaches beekeeping (in Spanish). The rest of the year he is in the northern hemisphere; his 5 backyard colonies in Tigard OR are docile European bees.
He keeps active giving Bee Short Courses and lectures to various bee clubs and state organizations. He continues active EAS having been President (1986), Director (both from MD and DE), Chairman of the EAS Board for 8 years, Chair of several Board committees and currently is Advisor for EAS Master Beekeeper program. He was program and Short Course chair for 2016 New Jersey and Program Chair for 2017 Delaware. He was WAS President for the 2010 WAS meeting in Salem, has been Or Board representative and is assisting Sarah with the 2019 Program and meeting.

"Varroa, forage, pesticides - HBHC resources for WAS"
Dewey M. Caron Portland OR, WAS & OSBA representative to HBHC
Annual bee losses continue to exceed 30% overwinter requiring extensive colony replacement management to maintain sufficient U.S. colonies for essential crop pollination services. The HBHC, a diverse group representing all segments of the bee industry, seeks to assist North American beekeepers by providing current information on how better to maintain healthy colonies. Task forces focus on hive management, forage and bee nutrition and the bee colony/crop production interface. I will highlight current efforts including  HBHC Tools for Varroa Management, an essential tool to help combat varroa.
Master Beekeeper Programs Panel with J Berry, J Bromenshenk, D Caron and R SagiliTraditional Versus Flipped Classroom Learning Models

Interest in bees and beekeeping has exploded since the catastrophic colony losses of 2006. With extensive media coverage, the importance of insect pollinators, especially bees, has captured the public interest. Concurrently, there has been a worldwide increase in the numbers of new beekeepers, many of whom turn to the internet as their primary source of information, where self-professed experts abound. However, there are those who demand quality education. Most look to beekeeping organizations, agricultural extension service programs, and colleges and universities for quality education. Adult learning is the new norm. From work experience, adult learners have become situational learners, and they no longer view their education as stopping when one gets a degree or learns a trade. WAS recognizes this changing face of education and has assembled a panel of experienced educators to address four questions: (1) How to educate, (2) How to develop programs and courses, (3) How to market, and (4) How to measure competency.
Jerry Hayes

Jerry Hayes is the Honey Bee Health lead for Monsanto's newly formed BioDirect business unit. Before joining Monsanto he was the Chief of the Apiary Section for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. In the role he was responsible for the regulatory health of the 350,000 colonies in the State of Florida, a State highly dependent on Honey Bee pollination for agricultural success. For the past 30 years Jerry has written a monthly column in the American Bee Journal called The Classroom and a book by the same name. Jerry is a founding member of the Colony Collapse Working Group, a science advisory board member for Project Apis mellifera (PAm) , the Bee Informed Partnership, and he serves on the Steering Committee of the Honey Bee Health Coalition. He has been author and co-author on multiple research papers that delve into how to understand and preserve honey bee health.

In Jerry's 35 plus years in the Apiculture Industry his overarching desire has been to create sustainable honey bee management practices while partnering with other segments of agriculture. The cornerstone of his career has been to educate others that honey bees are the key pollinators and the critical role they play in agriculture; while in parallel encouraging the development of multi dimensional landscapes for the benefit of honey bees and all pollinators.

The last part of an African saying is, “If you want to go far, go together.” I have said in many talks that, "Anybody who says they do something valuable alone is a liar.” And I have said, “We can’t have one part of agriculture pointing its finger at another part of agriculture. Everybody loses.” I will focus on the Honey Bee Heath Coalition, its 50 members, and what they have done and hope to accomplish together.
Marc von Huene
Marc von Huene is chair of educational outreach for the Treasure Valley Bee Club in Boise, Idaho. He started a bee club at the Hewlett Packard campus where they now maintain 17 hives onsite in addition to over 50 hives at members’ homes. He’s given multiple lectures to clubs and businesses in the Treasure Valley and taught community education classes for Boise State. As an engineer for HP, his day job greatly interferes with his passion for bees, and having hives onsite gives him a great .
As the economic chair of the Treasure Valley Beekeeping Club, Marc was approached about mentoring in the nearby Snake River Correctional Institution for inmates going through the Washington State apprentice program. That effort is now in its second year and his talk will focus on the special challenges and experiences of running a grassroots program from behind bars.

Beekeeping Behind Bars

There are multiple benefits of keeping bees that can also have a direct positive impact to inmates. To learn to trust, respect and nurture a hive can give an inmate a purpose and a potential path after release. This talk will explore the personal experiences of two beekeepers that have spent time working with inmates in correctional institutions. It will put a human face on a subject that most of us only envision through TV dramas or the police blotter, and emphasize the benefits of apiary programs for inmates through stories of success, challenge and hope.
Randy Oliver
Hot Topic(s) of the Moment!
Sarah Red-Laird
Bio: Sarah Red-Laird is the founder and Executive Director of the Bee Girl organization, a nonprofit with a mission to educate and inspire communities to conserve bees, their flowers, and our food. Bee Girl projects are focused on regenerative beekeeping, bee habitat research and education, and kids’ programs. She is a graduate of the University of Montana's College of Forestry and Conservation with a degree in Resource Conservation, focused on community collaboration and environmental policy. Sarah also serves as the “Kids and Bees” program director for the American Beekeeping Federation. When she is not tirelessly working with bees, beekeepers, kids, farmers, land managers, and policy makers, Sarah loves to read historical fiction, ride her bike, hike in the hills, see new places and things, people watch, and snuggle any animal that she can catch.

Abstract - Saturday Keynote: “My Two Step Plan to Saving Your Bees” Beekeeping is hard. Really hard. A host of challenges inside and outside of the hive doesn’t make it any easier. After nearly a decade of thinking, talking, and teaching about bees, I’ve come up with a plan to integrate a few of my favorite things to help our bees. In this talk, I’ll tell you all about our latest research and education programs focused on soil, flowers, kids, and farmers.

Abstract - Next Gen: “The Future of Beekeeping is Ours: Interactive Happy Hour for Next Generation Beekeepers” What's a "Next Generation Beekeeper"? “Next Gen” is defined as, “The step forward that perpetually propels us into our impending destiny.” We are the next generation in our family of beekeepers, we are the drivers of the next stage of development in the products, services, expertise, and knowledge our industry provides. This beekeeper is a commercial or small scale beekeeper, or works as an educator or researcher. They are passionate about bees, and want to be involved in future beekeeping innovation, research, policy, technology, advocacy, or community leadership.

Present Generation = People who have made bees their career for the last 2+ decades

Next Generation = People who are in their first decade of bees as a career

Next Next Generation = Kids

This breakout session will feature free beer, music, great networking opportunities, free beer, and an organized, interactive group session. The session is designed to develop a few ideas for addressing the issues new beekeepers face as we join this industry. You tell us what that needs to be done; we’ll listen and help to develop a positive action plan to propel you forward.

Dr. Ramesh Sagili
Dr. Ramesh Sagili is an Associate Professor in the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University. He obtained his PhD in Entomology from Texas A&M University in 2007 specializing in honey bee research. His primary research focus at OSU is honey bee health, nutrition and pollination. His appointment also includes extension and hence he also works closely with the stakeholders. He initiated the creation of Oregon Master Beekeeper Program in 2010 and chaired the Governor’s Task Force on Pollinator Health in 2014. He has strived to establish a vibrant and dynamic honey bee research and extension program at OSU to cater the needs of beekeepers and producers. He has authored several important research and extension publications including the popular extension publication and app titled “How to reduce bee poisoning from pesticides” that is being used by many beekeepers, growers and pesticide consultants/applicators in the country. In 2017 he received the Entomological Society of America’s Pacific Branch Research Award and also Eastern Apicultural Society’s Outstanding Research Award.

Title: Honey Bee Nutrition: What We Know and What We Need to Know

Abstract (description of the presentation): Nutrition is the first line of defense against many stressors facing honey bees and other pollinators. This presentation will discuss the role and importance of nutrition (especially sterols) in honey bee colony growth and survival. Few ongoing research projects pertaining to honey bee nutrition at Oregon State University Honey Bee Lab will also be discussed. Further, few tips/suggestions to improve bee nutrition will also be provided.
Ken SonnenKen Sonnen currently serves as the Vice President of the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club based in Boise, ID where he has held previous positions of Secretary, Paladin, and Chump Stumper. Ken has been a hobbyist beekeeper for 5 years where he delves into the minutia and oddities in and around the apiary. To fund his hobby, Ken works as a Product Engineer at Micron, The World’s Best Memory Company. 

Abstract of presentation:
Brief presentations of the challenges of a hive inspections focusing primarily on what not to do.
Melinda Jean Stafford
Melinda Jean Stafford currently serves as the president of the Treasure Valley Beekeepers Club based in Boise, ID. As a hobbyist beekeeper, Melinda Jean has developed a series of educational materials, classes, blogs, podcasts, and video tutorials targeted to new and aspiring beekeepers, hosted by D&B Supply. You can view her blogs at blog.mydbsupply.com/author/melinda-jean-stafford/ and her educational videos at D&B Supply's YouTube.com channel. Melinda Jean also serves as the club advisor to Boise State University's beekeeping club - The Bee Team. These students manage hives on the roof of their student union building and harvest honey and beeswax used for products which are sold in the campus's BroncoShop. Beekeeping is a hobby that keeps Melinda Jean very busy. Her full-time job is at Boise State University as the assistant director of their Student Involvement and Leadership Center.

Abstract of presentation:
Beekeeping associations have plenty of older and experienced beekeepers. Attracting and, more importantly, retaining new and younger people interested in maintaining our beekeeping legacy is the challenge. Come learn what local associations must consider and implement in order to keep their groups relevant to the younger and incoming generations. The future of our associations depends on the continued and enthusiastic involvement of new and younger people!
Jamie StrangeMy research interests include basic aspects of bumble bee (Bombus) biology and practical aspects of bumble bee culture for pollination. In my lab we raise several species of bumble bees for various projects related to bumble bee biology and management. Currently we are rearing colonies from wild-caught and overwintered queen bumble bees from several western US species. The Hunt Bumble Bee, B. huntii, has been reared as a species of interest for domestication and use in greenhouse pollination. We currently have projects ongoing that are investigating winter mortality, nest initiation, summer foraging range and nesting density, and pathology related to this species.
Investigations of the reproductive biology and the physiology of the Vosnesensky Bumble Bee and the adaptations of this species to the highly variable climate of the American west are ongoing. Studies of comparative physiology and evolution of the Vosnesnesky Bumble Bee with the Two-Formed Bumble Bee are also underway. We work cooperatively on multiple projects with these two species with collaborators at University of Wyoming, University of Alabama, Penn State University, Harvard University to better understand these species and the way they interact with their environment.
The Bombus lab has a strong conservation component that primarily focuses on B. occidentalis, the Western Bumble Bee. My lab is cooperatively working with researchers at the University of Illinois and Illinois State University to investigate the synergistic impacts of pesticides and pathogens on bumble bee health. I work with researchers at Utah State University and the University of Hawaii to understand how population genetics of bumble bee species impacts species health and resilience in changing environments. Integral to this is understanding the impacts of pathogens and pesticides on pollinator populations. Work in the lab has heavily focused on identifying the diverse suite of pathogens and parasites that impact bumble bee populations, through conducting a national survey of bumble bees and development of low-cost molecular detection tools.

Talk Title and Abstract

Understanding the causes of bumble bee declines in the Western US and current conservation efforts

By 2011 the Western Bumble Bee, Bombus occidentalis, declined by 78% in its former range in the western US and Canada. While declines of this species are the most thoroughly documented in the western US, several other species are known or suspected to be at risk in the region as well. Two causes that appear to be most highly linked to declines are pathogens and pesticides; although, the definitive cause remains unknown. Colonies of B. occidentalis were raised in captivity to study pathogen levels, colony growth and mating. In all, 134 bumble bee queens have been used to initiate 45 colonies for study. Causes of queen mortality, colony pathogen levels and decreases in reproductive ability of males infected with pathogens are discussed. Specifically males infected with Nosema bombi are frequently unable to mate due to high spore levels that cause a distending of the abdomen. Ongoing work is investigating the interactions of pesticides with the pathogens that infect these bees.
Ellen Topitzhofer
Ellen became interested in honey bees while studying plant genetics and breeding at the University of Minnesota. She then hit the road to study honey bee nutrition as part of her MS at Oregon State University. She fell in love with the Willamette Valley, the final resting ground of our ancestors who traveled the Oregon Trail. Since then, she’s been working with commercial beekeepers all over the Northwest under the Bee Informed Partnership’s Tech Transfer Team. She’s spent her five years with the Tech Team mastering on-the-ground testing, secret-keeping, and applicable research. Her hobbies include: keeping her own bees alive, talking about bees, and queen rearing.

Bee Informed Partnership's Northwest Tech Transfer Team

The Bee Informed Partnership's Northwest Tech Team has been assisting beekeepers for the past five years now. This talk serves as an introduction to this team and an update on the progress the team has made in the beekeeping community. Beekeepers use the team's sampling efforts in creative ways through field trials. I will describe some of these trials and how they directly affected the beekeeper's operation. On a larger scale, I'll present findings on some of our field studies that address issues we've observed in this region.