Beekeeping Today Podcast

40 Episodes

By: Jeff Ott, Kim Flottum

The podcast for the latest beekeeping news, information and entertainment for today's beekeeper. Hosts Jeff Ott and Kim Flottum bring you interviews and commentary helping you become a more informed and knowledgeable beekeeper.

The Climate Change Impact on Bees & Floral Sources with Dr. Christina Grozinger (S3, E46)
Last Monday at 10:30 AM

In this episode, we talk with Dr. Christina Grozinger, from Penn State’s Department of Entomology. Her recent research and paper of climate changes impact on honey bee survival and plant growing season has confirmed many suspicions on the long term impact these changes have on all bees, both native and honey bees.

Climate change, growing degree days, too warm, too wet, not wet enough, too cold, not enough nectar, last summer’s weather, winter temperatures – all of these environmental experiences have some effect on honey bee behavior. But this research at Penn State indicates, interestingly, that the tem...

2021 Asian Giant Hornet Update with Sven-Erik Spichiger (S3, E45)

In this episode, we have a return visit with Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Sven-Erik Spichiger, to see how our honey bees’ newest threat, The Giant Asian Hornet, did last season in the Pacific Northwest.

The AGH was wildly sensationalized last year, picking up the moniker of “Murder Hornet”, which actually helped garner some attention to both this beast and the Department’s quest to locate nests and capture specimens.

Over 900 traps were placed in very northern Washington by department officials, 325 by private land managers and park officials, and private citizen scientists in the state put...

The Honey Bee Health Coalition with Matt Mulica (S3, E44)

Meet Matt Mulica, Senior Project Director of The Honey Bee Health Coalition a group of more than 50 organizations who have come together to implement solutions to achieve a healthy population of native and managed pollinators. These include beekeepers, growers, researchers, government agencies, agribusiness, conservation groups and production agriculture.

Working together, they have identified several major areas they feel need the most attention. These include forage and nutrition, hive and certainly varroa management, and crop pest management. They’ve developed best management practices for corn, soybeans and canola, outreach to growers, beekeepers, agribusinesses, the pubic and anybody needing mo...

The 2021 Almond Season & Indoor Wintering with John Miller (S3, E43)

John Miller is a commercial beekeeper based in Gackle, North Dakota and New Castle, California.  His family has been keeping bees since 1894. Their season starts each spring when John and his sons take their bees to the almond orchards in Central California. In this episode, John gives us an update on the 2021 almond pollination.

For the past three years, John overwintered his thousands of colonies in a specially designed building in Gackle. Moving them indoors has reduced his winter losses from about 35% to about 8%.

It is a very special building.

The red light i...

Russian Honey Bee and EAS Updates with Dan Conlon (S3, E42)

In this episode, we invite Dan Conlon back to learn how the Russian Honey Bee Program is progressing, since now is the time to consider trying packages, nucs or queens for the coming season.

Arguably, Russians are the most tested breed of honey bee in the US due to the fact that the USDA Honey Bee Genetics Lab has had a hand in the selection and breeding program from the very beginning. Not only that, they have stayed involved, with improvements in breeding, selecting for the right traits, making sure the genetics of resistance and honey production...

Research for Hire with Jessie & Bobby Louque (S3, E41)

Today, we talk with Jessie and Bobby Louque, of Louque Agricultural Enterprises.  Testing the interactions of pesticides and honey bees is what this company does on a daily basis. They have combined their passion for bees with their passion for science. They are what is called a Contract Research Organization, or CRO. Companies hire them to do the specialty research required with honey bees to provide the EPA with the measures and data needed to make decisions on the introduction or expansion of a pesticide or honey bee food label.

When a new product is g...

Boris Baer - Center for Integrative Bee Research (S3, E40)

Our guest this week is Boris Baer, Professor of Entomology at UC Riverside. Boris is the recent recipient of a $900,000 grant from the University of California’s Office of the President.  He is the Principal Investigator of a four-campus network of bee researchers and engineers to boost dwindling honey bee populations working in the Center for Integrative Bee Research (CIBER).

Boris is working with a team of researchers and students looking at the interaction of nutritional supplements when bees have been exposed to pesticides, and how to harness the natural honey bee microbiome to this assault.  The rese...

Steven Coy - APHIS and Chinese Tallow (S3, E39)

Steven Coy, Executive Board Member of American Honey Producers Association returns to the podcast. This time, he discusses the USDA-APHIS call for comments on the elimination of the Chinese Tallow Tree and the impact the elimination of this tree could have on honey producers from Texas to Florida.

PLEASE NOTE: At the time of the podcast recording, the published comment period ended on Feb. 22. It has been extended to April 23. You have another 60 days to comment, but please do if the issue is critical to you.

Also on the show, Jim Tew stops by to t...

The Bee Squad with Bridget Mendel and Becky Masterman (S3, E38)

In today’s episode, we talk with Bridget Mendel and Becky Masterman of the University of Minnesota Bee Lab’s “Bee Squad”.  Dr. Marla Spivak created Bee Squad as an outreach group 10 years ago in the Twin Cities area to help local beekeepers and other people just wanting bees in the backyard, with just a couple of volunteers. It has blossomed into a dynamic, nationally known UMN Extension Program that is helping hundreds, even thousands of people – beekeepers and non-beekeepers alike.

The Bee Squad was originally headed by Becky who recently 'passed the hive tool' of leadership to Bridget...

The Bee Corp with Ellie Symes

This week we talk with Ellie Symes, CEO of The Bee Corp. We met Ellie at the recent Almond Growers virtual conference. With pollination hives in almonds renting for around $200 each, almond growers want to make sure they are getting good, strong hives so they get maximum production from their orchards. Beekeepers want to make sure they are not spending time and money moving hives that don’t measure up to a grower’s standards. So, what’s the best way to make sure both beekeepers and growers get the biggest bang for their bees? One answer - fast, accura...

Bee Downtown with Ben Dictus

In today’s episode we talk with Ben Dictus, beekeeper for Bee Downtown.  The good people in the Bee Downtown organization have taken bees and beekeeping to a new level of education, promotion and opportunity. They have combined beekeeping and leadership training, with business leaders and employees: Bee yards with corporate landscapes.

Ben manages about 150 colonies in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina, working with the likes of corporations such as SAS, Delta Air, Burt’s Bees, Blue Cross to establish colonies on their corporate grounds.  The hives are not hidden behind an outbuilding or the ‘back acr...

Kaylee Richardson - The Honeystead with Kirsten

On today’s show, we chat with Kaylee Richardson, who runs the Farm on Quail Hollow and posts about her life as a modern-day homesteader @the_honeystead. She shares the nitty-gritty details of what it takes to produce most of your food from your own farm both in beautiful photos and via informative YouTube videos.

She’s grown her apiary substantially, building up from a couple of hives into a small, sideline business. Currently she’s in the process of relocating her colonies from her garden to a separate spot, where their flightpath won’t be obstructed by foot...

Return of the Regional Beekeepers - Winter Perspectives (S3, E34)

In this episode of Beekeeping Today Podcast, we reconnect with our beekeeping friends from Season 2, Episode 9. They come from across the country including Central North Carolina, North East Ohio, the western slope of the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast of Washington. We talk with them about last season, this winter and what they expect for next season.

We start out in North Carolina with Mark Smith, who has had bees since 2014 and is running 20 – 30 treatment free colonies. His season last year had some real surprises and he was playing catch up most of the su...

The Importance of Propolis with Dr. Marla Spivak (S3, E33)

Marla Spivak is a honey bee researcher at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Her work has covered a variety of subjects over the years including queen breeding and disease prevention and lately she has been working on the relationship of honey bees and propolis.

Propolis is simply a mixture of resins honey bees collect from a variety of plants. These resins protect these plants from diseases and pests that would otherwise harm them. She first became interested when she read that some properties of propolis had a positive effect on human HIV disease. Then she attended...

Two Queen Honey Production with Tom Theobald (S3, E32)

In this episode, we welcome back Colorado beekeeper, Tom Theobald. Tom had a small commercial operation in Colorado in the late 70’s, running up to 200 or so colonies when he first started using two queen colonies. The biology of running two queens in a colony does make sense if you use the technique Tom perfected, but the better you get, the more lifting you are going to do. His finished production hives had three deeps for brood production and seven mediums for honey storage. At the time, an average to strong colony in his part of Colorado would make ab...

Holiday Replay: Dr. Sam Ramsey & The Varroa Mite (S3, E31)

On this special Holiday Replay, we bring back one of our favorite episodes from the first season, when we invited Dr. Sam Ramsey to the podcast to talk about the Varroa Mite.

Sam Ramsey is a life long entomologist. His interests in all things insects started in his youth along with his parent's encouragement and his siblings displeasure! He continued his studies in college (Cornell) and just recently completed his PhD this year at The University of Maryland under Dr. Dennis vanEngelsdorp.

Dr. Ramsey made headlines earlier this year with the publication of his doctoral r...

Newfoundland's Varroa Action Plan with Dr. David Peck and Peter Armitage (S3, E30)

On today’s episode, we talk with Newfoundland beekeeper, Peter Armitage and Dr. David Peck, a Professor from Cornell University, David Peck.  Those of us south of the Canadian border tend to mispronounce the name of that big Island off the east coast of Quebec and just north of Prince Edward Island. We tend to slur it, saying ‘Newfundlund’ instead. But that is wrong. How do you say it right? “Understand New Found Land”. Onomatopoeia to the rescue! (One of the cohost’s still can’t get it right…)

The good people who live on Newfoundland Island have managed to k...

Honey Testing - QSI America with Tobias Wiezorek (S3, E29)

QSI–America is a Germany based company that is in the business of testing honey for anything. Their US lab in Corona, California is led by Tobias Wiezorek, and employs about 35 scientists looking at the biochemical, microbiology, chemical and pollen aspects of the honey and wax samples. They can perform many tests, including moisture content, the presence of antibiotics or pesticides, the HMF content to determine if the sample has been overheated, sugar ratios to tell if it’s a blend, pure or something else, they can identify the pollens found in a sample to identify the source  and/or cou...

Santa Cruz Bee Company's Emily Bondor with Kirsten (S3, E28)

In this week’s episode, guest host Kirsten Traynor speaks with Emily Bondor of the Santa Cruz Bee Co about how she manages her colonies and those of other beekeepers without chemical intervention. Emily discuss the types of losses beekeepers should expect when foregoing varroa treatments, how to be an ethical treatment-free beekeeper, so that your sick colonies don’t impact hives in the vicinity, and how her attitude toward treatments has evolved, because she also manages other people’s investment in bees. Tune in for this in-depth discussion about the pros and cons about stopping varroa treatments of your b...

Interviews with Beekeepers, Author Steve Donohoe (S3, E27)

Starting several years ago, Steve Donohoe wanted to find out more about beekeepers and how they kept bees. His travels took him to California, where he talked to Randy Oliver and Ray Olivarez, to Vermont to talk to Mike Palmer, then back the UK to talk to Murry McGregor in Scotland and Peter Little, who used to work with Brother Adam, then on to a New Zealand honey packer and finally to France to visit that country’s largest queen breeder.

These people were sort of his heroes, successful at their occupation and fairly well known in th...

Ernst Seed Company - Calvin Ernst with Kirsten (S3, E26)

Protecting pollinators and improving the habitat for honey bees often entails planting nectar and pollen rich plants. In this episode, Kirsten talks with Calvin Ernst, founder of Ernst Seeds, who has been deeply involved with growing native plants for over 50 years. Learn how providing seeds for erosion control to the Department of Transportation helped him start his company and how he transitioned the company’s focus to natives over time. He provides solid advice on preparing the ground prior to planting for pollinators. Learn more about this family run business and how it provides for pollinators in this week’s sho...

Bananas for Bee with Katharina Davitt (S3, E25)

In this episode, Master Beekeeper, Katharina Davitt reveals the nutritional benefits honey bees derive from bananas. Yes, you read that correctly, bananas!

We all know that bananas are good for people. They are full of carbs, minerals, vitamins, are good for digestion and just taste good. But the one thing all beekeepers learn when they start out is that when bees are threatened, they release alarm pheromone and that smells like bananas. So up to now, wise beekeepers didn’t bring bananas to the bee yard.

But it turns out feeding bananas to honey bees is...

Oregon Fires - Sharon Schmidt with Kirsten (S3, E24)

This autumn wildfires cut through large swaths of Oregon, destroying towns, homes and habitat. In this episode, Kirsten talks with Sharon Schmidt, founder of Cascade Girl Apiary, who lost her home and apiary in Phoenix, Oregon. Sharon was visiting a friend when the fires roared into her town. The police would not let her return to her property. She expected the fires to be brought under control, but as she watched from the ridge line, her town went up in flames.

Talent and Phoenix, Oregon were both early members of the Bee City USA program, changing their...

"Show Me The Honey" with Dave Doroghy (S3, E23)

Dave Doroghy works in the worlds of advertising and sports marketing and lives on a house boat on the Frasier River in southern British Columbia near Vancouver. His discovery of beekeeping wasn’t the common story of being swept off his feet with this new found passion. No, his interest was primarily financial. Show me the Money was a part of his professional sports life, so ‘show me the honey’ became a part of his beekeeping life.

His story is familiar to many new beekeepers. He makes just about every mistake that can be made with a...

Organic Beekeeping and Importing Manuka: Madhu Honey with Kirsten (S3, E22)

In this episode, Kirsten sits down with Matthew Pettersson of Madhu Honey, who fell into beekeeping after a chance encounter with a giant jar of honey in a New York City apartment. Fascinated by honey bees and the golden honey they create, he ended up working for a commercial organic beekeeper in Germany, who runs four to six thousand colonies – much larger than one typically thinks about organic beekeeping, envisioning small bucolic apiaries with a beekeeper very much in-tune with their bees.

Hooked, he didn’t want to stop over the winter and so headed to New Zeal...

American Honey Tasting Society with Marina & Raffaele (S3, E21)

Marina Marchese is the President of the American Honey Tasting Society. She refined her learning and teaching skills in Italy and Raffaele Dall'Olio was one of her teachers. Today we discuss with them all of the aspects of honey tasting – the basics of how to taste a honey, using your tongue, your nose, your eyes. Learn the vocabulary to describe, and then to remember the flavors, the taste and aromas of all of the many varieties of honey available.

Marina’s American Honey Tasting Society offers honey tasting classes, similar to the three years of classes she took...

Bees Wax & Other Research - Michael Smith, Ph.D with Kirsten (S3, E20)

In this week’s episode, guest cohost, Kirsten Traynor, editor of 2 Million Blossoms, talks with Michael Smith, Ph.D. Michael grew up in Panama, then went to boarding school in Wales, where he chanced upon a beekeeper with honey in a hallway. Together the two ended up launching a bee club that just celebrated its 15th anniversary. After being a gofer for a bee lab at a women’s university, Smith convinced Tom Seeley to take him on as a graduate student. At Cornell, he investigated what triggers drone comb building plus ran a side project on who steals from...

Almond Contracts: An Economist's Analysis with Brittney Goodrich (S3, E19)

In this episode, we invited Dr. Brittney Goodrich to discuss what her research has found in almond pollination contracts.  Brittney is a Cooperative Extension Specialist at the University of California, Davis. She is an Agricultural Economist and one of her favorite topics to research are the contracts between beekeepers and growers for pollination services. She is sitting in the middle of the biggest pollination contract industry in the world: Almond Pollination.

She did a survey of almond growers to find out what they think about pollination contracts. She looked at colony strength, number of colonies per acre, a...

The Ambeessadors with Steve Rogenstein and Kirsten (S3, E18)

If you’re interested in starting a honey festival in your city, you have to speak with Steve Rogenstein who founded the Ambeesadors. A former event manager, he fell in love with bees and has used his unique skills to organize honey festivals in both New York City and Barcelona.  Currently he lives in Berlin, Germany.

Steve is also involved with the COLOSS Survivor Taskforce, coordinating the citizen science project Honey Bee Watch. This project seeks to connect beekeepers, bee enthusiasts and scientists in identifying feral and wild honey bee colonies to help preserve their gen...

Dewey Caron - "The Complete Bee Handbook" & More (S3, E17)

Dr. Dewey M. Caron’s latest book, The Complete Bee Handbook is quite the book. Not a scientific text, not a how-to beekeeping book, but one that’s meant for all those folks who think they might want to keep bees, but don’t know what’s involved. Plus it includes sections on honey recipes, making candles, mead and honey beer, gardening for all bees, bee biology in just the right amount. Beautiful art highlights each chapter, with each chapter given an overview and summary. It is truly delightful. But wait: There’s more.

Dewey is very in...

Bee Audacious with Bonnie Morse and Kirsten (S3, E16)

The Bee Audacious conference brought together beekeeping luminaries like Mark Winston, Marla Spivak, Tom Seeley and many others. The event was created and organized by Bonnie Morse, who recently sat down to chat with guest host Kirsten Traynor. In today’s episode they talk how Winston’s editorial in Bee Culture encouraged audacious thinking about bee health inspired the event. It was an unusual conference focused on dialogue instead of talks, bringing together bright minds to try and find creative solutions to pressing issues in the bee industry.

And what has she been up to since that first...

The Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium with Allie and Britteny (S3, E15)

In today’s episode we talk to Britteny Kyle, DVM, President of the Honey Bee Veterinary Consortium (HBVC) and Alexzandra (Allie) Mosel, DVM, who is the President Elect. Both are beekeepers and small animal veterinarians interested in getting more vets trained and interested in bees and beekeeping.

Recall that as of January 2017, if a beekeeper needs to administer antibiotics to their honey bees, they are required to have a prescription or feed directive from a licensed veterinarian. The HBVC is made up of students and professionals from all segments of veterinary medicine and animal science who care abo...

Honey and the Good Food Awards with Sarah Weiner and Mark Carlson (S3, E14)

In today’s episode we talk with Sarah Weiner, the Executive Director of the Good Food Awards Foundation and Mark Carlson, the Committee Co-Chair of the Honey Category. Sarah brings a global perspective to her position having worked with Slow Foods International in Italy and the US, produced the Organic Food Festival in the UK, and has co-founded seedling projects. In his spare time, Mark is a California State Beekeepers Association Master Beekeeper and a Chemist at Micro-Tracers, Inc.

They both sat down with us recently to talk about the Good Food Awards Foundation and what it ta...

Weird Bee Behaviors - Dr. Rachael Bonoan with Kirsten (S3, E13)

In this episode, Kirsten Traynor meets up with Dr. Rachael Bonoan, a bee biologist and ecologist. Bees have some unusual and quirky behaviors. They discuss bumble bee high fives, why honey bees like stinky, dirty water, and how our pollinators may be seeking out unusual food sources to gain important minerals. Rachael tells us about doing science in Costa Rica, where she looked into the foraging habits of vulture bees that turn carrion into slurpy meat soup. To her astonishment, some bees that normally collect pollen also loaded up bits of meat into their pollen carrying corbicula, wearing little...

Strong Microbials with Drs. Vera and Slava Strogolova (S3, E12)

Strong Microbials got their start producing probiotics to improve the health of cattle, dairy cows, poultry and swine. Their products improved animal food digestion resulting in overall animal health. In 2012 they became interested in doing the same thing for honey bees. In this episode, we talk with Vera and Slava about their probiotic use to aid honey bee health and well-being.

Multiple bacteria are present in all nectars, pollens, propolis and the environment.  Honey bees need these bacteria to aid not only in digestion, but also to improve immune response and combating stressors detrimental to their health. S...

Beekeeping Downunder: Simeon Valkenburg with Kirsten (S3, E11)

In this episode, Kirsten chats with commercial beekeeper Simeon Valkenburg, who runs a commercial operation with his brother in Australia. He talks about building up their commercial operation from scratch. They started with one hive and are now up to about 1,000 hives in south east Australia.

The season kicks off with almond pollination. Yes, that’s right—Australian almonds which bloom in August. They then move colonies into crops like canola or beans or move into areas flush with a low desert eucalypt, which under the right weather conditions can produce a huge honey harvest. In their summ...

Bee Optimism with Dr. Jay Evans (S3, E10)

Dr. Jay Evans is the Research Leader at the USDA Honey Bee Research Lab in Beltsville Maryland. He and the resident scientists there are involved in many projects, including mite studies, nutrition supplements for bees, queen health and nutrition. Plus, even in middle of this pandemic, they have realized the need for continuing the AFB Diagnostic Center so beekeepers can handle this disease before it gets out of hand in their apiaries.

There's more to Jay than his regular research. He has been writing a column for our sponsor Bee Culture magazine for several years and has g...

Madeleine Ostwald with Kirsten Traynor (S3, E9)

This week, guest co-host Kirsten Traynor joins us with Madeleine Ostwald. Madeleine studies bees, having worked with both honey bees and carpenter bees. When days get hot, we seek out ways to cool off with water. Beekeepers (and sometimes their neighbors) know that honey bees do the same.  As an undergraduate student in Tom Seeley’s lab, Madeleine turned up the heat on a honey bee hive to find out just how they do this. Madeleine observed some bees adapt to heat stress by acting like water storage containers, always ready to chill things down when days get hot.


Dr. Samuel Ramsey - Tracking The Tropilaelaps & More (S3, E8)

Dr. Sam Ramsey joins us again to share what he has found from his most recent work on Tropilaelaps mites in Thailand. He has been looking at the history of this mite’s movement around the world, the biology and its life cycle.  Just as important he is exploring the differences and the similarities of the Tropilaelaps to the Varroa mite. His work points out why this pest is so very difficult to control with chemicals, why it is so genetically diverse, what helps it adapt quickly to new control tactics and why populations build so fast in the col...

Heroes To Hives - Adam Ingrao with Kirsten Traynor (S3, E07)

This week, guest co-host Kirsten Traynor chats with Adam Ingrao, Ph.D, founder of Heroes to Hive.  Heroes To Hives is a veterans training program he started five years ago. They train veterans, especially those suffering from PTSD, how to manage honey bee hives and get started in beekeeping. Over 500 vets and family members are enrolled in this free program this year, making it one of the largest vet training programs in the US.

Kirsten also talks with Adam about his own struggles with opioids, how honey bees helped him regain purpose. He then describes how he g...