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SBGMI Virtual Winter Conference 2023

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The 2nd Annual SBGMI Virtual Winter Conference is brought to you by Northern Bee Books and the Natural Bee Husbandry Magazine, Miller Bee Supply, Flanary Ridge Honey, LLC. and Heffernan’s Honey.

Please join us February 25, 2023 beginning at 8:30am(est) (may change) for a live and interactive conference featuring 10 dynamic and exciting speakers. Registered attendees will receive one year of group membership to the Sustainable Beekeepers Guild of Michigan which includes a complimentary six-month digital subscription to the Natural Bee Husbandry magazine, access to conference recordings, access to our local lending library, American Bee Journal/Bee Culture subscription Discounts, and much more!

Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote Presentation: “Finding Varroa Sensitive Hygiene and Retaining it.” For Backyard Beekeepers and More. John Harbo, Ph.D

9:00am to 10:00am (EST)
Based on what is now known about resistance to Varroa, John will present what he has found to be a practical approach to selective breeding for Varroa sensitive hygiene (VSH) when one does not have the resources of a research lab. He will describe what is necessary and what can be omitted; why he don’t measure mites on adult bees, don’t remove drone brood, and don’t actively select for more than one trait. He will explain heritability and why it is important to use proven methods to measure a trait. Although artificial insemination is a valuable tool in bee breeding, he will discuss how selection can include the significant power that nature provides in the free-mating competition among drones.

Additional Speakers

“A Year in the Life of a Honey Bee Colony” with Dr. Jamie Ellis.

10:00am-11:00am (EST)
Honey bees live in perennial colonies. One result of this is that they have to survive yearly fluctuations in temperature, rainfall, forage availability, stressors, etc. Survival and reproduction are the ultimate goals of any organism and honey bee colonies are no different. In this lecture, Dr. Ellis will discuss the yearly lifecycle of a honey bee colony and what it does to survive given the ever-changing conditions it faces. (This presentation will be pre-recorded).

“Being a Good Neighbor with Good Mite Hygiene” with Dr. David Peck.

11:00am – 12:00pm (EST)
The Varroa destructor (Mites) are something beekeepers will always contend with regardless of treatment philosophies. In the spirit of being good neighbors, Dr. Peck will teach us about mite biology, transmission mechanisms, and mite resistance developed by honeybees in natural populations.

“Integrated Pest Management Essentials: Prevent, Reduce, Monitor, and Respond” with Dr. Robyn Underwood.

12:00pm – 1:00pm (EST)
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a sustainable approach to managing pests that includes various management practices to prevent, monitor and reduce pest populations. An IPM approach is a holistic strategy that allows natural mortality to work effectively while implementing corrective actions if monitoring indicates they are necessary. During this talk, we will discuss the IPM pyramid and its parts as it pertains to Varroa mites in honey bee colonies, in addition to learning about the results of a long-term side-by-side study of three honey bee colony management systems that greatly impacted honey bee health and productivity. 

“Horizontal Top Bar Hives and Community Outreach” with Nathalie B.

1:00pm – 2:00pm (EST)
Nathalie B. will discuss the tremendous advantages of Horizontal Top-Bar Hive beekeeping for Natural, Sustainable Beekeeping for all, and how it can also be used for Community Outreach in the US and around the world. She will make the case for what she has called “The People’s Hive Of The Future”, and how it is accessible to people of all abilities, age, height and means, offering an elegant and simple, yet powerful way to connect us all through our bees, while reclaiming our nature.

“Preventing, Hiving, and Baiting Swarms” with Michael Bush

2:00pm – 3:00pm (EST)
This new presentation from Michael Bush will cover the basics every beekeeper should learn and know to manage their apiaries for swarms. He will also discuss how a sustainable beekeeper can improve their success in managing bees through baiting and retrieving honeybee swarms – both kept and wild!

“Common Sense Natural Beekeeping” with Kim Flottum.

3:00pm – 4:00pm (EST)
Kim will help us define and understand what natural beekeeping is and how it contrasts with conventional descriptions. He will describe the various techniques natural beekeepers employ in their practice and help outline the various management practices he and others have successfully incorporated over the years. As in his book of the same name Kim eases us into the world of natural beekeeping with humility and experience that any beekeeper can learn and improve from.

“Management of Single Brood Chamber Hives” with Stephen Repasky.

4:00pm – 5:00pm (EST)
Stephen will teach us how he manages his colonies in just one box! He will share his methods, challenges, and experience with swarm control and honey production within this single brood chamber system. As is with all methods in beekeeping there are advantages as well as pitfalls and Stephen will share how he addresses each.

“Insulate or Ventilate, Making Sense of Northern Honeybee Wintering Practice” with Adrian Quiney

5:00pm – 6:00pm (EST)
Adrian’s ‘Northern Nuc System’ has aided him in successful honeybee management over many seasons in the harsh northern climate of Wisconsin. He continues to evaluate his honeybee colonies as incubators for high overwintering prosperity and how ventilation and insulation play integral roles in wintering practices for beekeepers. He will teach us his observations and experiences as he continues down this intriguing journey of man vs. honeybee!

Closing Keynote Presentation: “Social Pollinators, Large Flowering Trees, and why Treatment Free Beekeeping is Imperative for a Sustainable Future” with Les Crowder

6:00pm – 7:00pm (EST)
Les Crowder brings to us the spirit of over five decades of beekeeping experience and thoughtful practice. Les offers a deep dive into the discussion of social pollinators and their importance in thriving flora and large flowering trees. He will also teach us about the various honeybee races and how the various lineages offered by breeders offer different traits and characteristics that add to or improve your beekeeping goals. He will also educate us on his successful treatment-free beekeeping practices and his vision for a sustainable future using resistant honeybee stock.

Virtual Conference Purpose

SBGMI was founded out of a desire to see an alternative to the permeation of prophylactic and systemic chemical treatment education and practice for mites (Varroa destructor) in modern beekeeping. The simple objective is to equip beekeepers with knowledge to reduce the dependence on these toxic interventions and facilitate sustainable beekeeping that trends toward better bred bees. We strive to ensure our members receive the support, resources, and opportunities needed to prosper along with their bees. This conference serves to bring together those who know, those who want to grow, and those curious about the path toward treatment-free beekeeping and sustainability in their own apiary!

You will learn from beekeepers who successfully keep bees in a manner that is within the spirit of the SBGMI Mission. You will also learn about core principles from our speakers on best practices, grow your apiary sustainably while focusing on a chemical-free natural approach to beekeeping. This conference will provide you with the perspective, tools, and inspiration to implement the same into your current practice. Whether you are starting out or making changes these speakers will equip you with new tools to improve your practice and apiary! Our speakers are of good repute and plan to share their habits and philosophies that have enabled them to replicate success in their own apiaries while striving and achieving sustainability whilst pursuing a chemical free future for beekeeping.

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