I discovered honey bees after a stint as a high school teacher. I was amazed as most people are about this world and as a human being able to be invited into this insect’s world. It was fascinating 30 years ago and equally if not more fascinating now.
I have a very understanding and patient wife who supported me in this pursuit as we decided that I should go back to school and learn more formally about honey bees and beekeeping from Dr. Jim Tew at Ohio State University. Agricultural and Technical Institute. From there I went to the USDA/ARS Bee Breeding and Stock Lab, which in those days was preparing for the African bee to move across the border and enter the United States. Next I was able to go to work for Dadant , North America’s largest beekeeping manufacturing and supply company, first as Regional Manager in Michigan and then at the home office in Hamilton, Illinois. While in Hamilton I started writing the “Classroom” Q&A column for the American Bee Journal, a Dadant publication, which in turn led to the book of the same name.
From 2004 until 2012, I was the Chief of the Apiary Inspection Section of the Florida Department of Agriculture. Florida is home to approximately 300,000 honey bee colonies and more than 2500 registered beekeepers, ranging from backyard enthusiasts to commercial migratory beekeepers with tens of thousands of colonies. With a dedicated staff, we supported this large part of valuable Florida agriculture with honey bee health consultations, facilitating migratory beekeepers moving between and among states, training new beekeepers and protecting this industry from the African bee.
The first report of Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) came to me in Florida in 2006. As a result, I was one of the founding members of the Colony Collapse Working Group and so have intimate knowledge of CCD and honey bee health. Additionally, during my time in Florida, African bees were found at one of Florida’s deep water ports. We had planned preemptively and appropriately to protect public health and the beekeeping Industry from this dangerous insect that could have potentially been disruptive to both beekeepers and agriculture.
I now have the opportunity to be at Monsanto and work with a technology that uses a normal natural process called RNA to see if it can be adapted to control honey bee parasites and pathogens safely, sanely and efficaciously. My personal goal is to be able to be a part of a team that uses this new technology to bring non-chemical Varroa control and the control of the Varroa / virus complex to a suffering and challenged industry. Honey bees are the foundation of pollinator-dependent agriculture and a healthy environment. I look forward to working to bring sustainable health solutions to honey bees and their beekeeping partners. I want honey bees to be more vital and active, and agriculture and the environment more diverse and productive.
Healthy Bees …Healthy Plants…Healthy Planet.