BIOS for convention speakers and others:
John Adams has been beekeeping since 1974 and has been an advocate of alternative hives since the 1980’s. His recent book examines the many systems of keeping honey bees throughout the centuries. There is emphasis on O. O. Poppleton’s long box hive. This historic hive of Poppleton was very much tested and proven to have obvious advantages because of its simplicity to make and operate, particularly if you are not into lifting heavy objects. (The Langstroth hive requires hydraulics if you are a commercial beekeeper. Old Langstroth equipment converts well to a long box with a few modifications. There is very little loss of old equipment which can operate with many different types of topbars.)
Sam Comfort is a brilliant creative beekeeper with a long record of commercial beekeeping. Sam Comfort explains that he won six beehives in a poker game in 2002, then spent several years working in large-scale migratory pollination, honey production and queen rearing. Exploring a different route, his Anarchy Apiaries now provides surplus bees, queens, and honey from about 400 rustic, treatment-free hives: Kenyan topbar, Warre’, and Langstroth–from New York to Florida. Sam freely shares a lot of tips, songs, why’s, how’s, and plenty of opinions for and against this approach, the state of the bee industry, and how communities can work together towards self-sufficiency in beekeeping. The mission of Anarchy Apiaries is to make beekeeping simple and affordable for all, and to facilitate the beekeeping network with more hives than televisions.
Wyatt A. Mangum (Ph.D.) is an internationally-known, top-bar hive beekeeper. His long career began at age 10, starting with frame hives. By the time he was in high school, he had 125 frame hives and was producing honey by the ton. In 1986, this life-long beekeeper had switched to top-bar hives long before most other beekeepers knew about them.
A monthly columnist for the American Bee Journal on Honey Bee Biology, Dr. Mangum is a highly sought-after speaker for bee meetings across the US, and a world traveler, working with beekeeping systems in India, Bangladesh, Bolivia, South Africa, Thailand, and Brazil.
However for his own bees, Dr. Mangum built a 200 top-bar hive operation and saw the bees through the terrible years when varroa and tracheal mites first came to America. For 10 years, he moved by himself 200 top-bar hives (weighing conservatively about 8 tons) to pollinate cucumber fields in North Carolina.
As an Apicultural Historian, that perspective helps to avoid repeating past mistakes in designing beekeeping equipment and keeps the top-bar hive equipment practical.
His scientific approach, observing how bees use equipment in observation hives (for example syrup feeders), makes sure the new equipment works from the bees’ perspective.
Dr. Mangum is also a specialist in the photography of bee behavior under difficult or delicate conditions, a talent brought to his book to produce the many rarely seen pictures. He worked out the technical aspects of using game cameras in apiaries to photograph nocturnal wildlife around the hives. The most stunning pictures are in his book Top-Bar Hive Beekeeping: Wisdom and Pleasure Combined.
Bee update: even though the winter of 2014 has been terrible in Virginia, my early spring inspections have shown my winter colony mortality was just 4%. Numerous colonies were exceptionally strong, still with plenty of honey, despite not treating for varroa or using any IPM, except for survivor stocks. Also, I just received 3,000 top bars for more top-bar hives that I am building this year. Come see all these pictures!
Keith Tignor is the State Apiarist for Virginia and whose love of honey bees is evident to anyone who knows him. Through his association with Virginia Tech and Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services over the past 25 years, Keith has worked closely with the agriculture community to promote beekeeping and the health of honey bees. His VDACS responsibilities include supervision of apiculture initiatives to promote the science of beekeeping, prevent the spread of diseases, and encourage the pollination of crops. Keith regularly speaks to local, state, and national organizations and groups. He is also active in several apiculture organizations such as the Apiary Inspectors of America, Virginia State Beekeepers’ Association and beekeeping groups in central Virginia region.