By Kathy Summers

lot is going on right now in the land of Bee Culture and it’s all good. I think 2018 is going to be a very exciting year for us. For starters Kim and I leave a week from tomorrow (February 17) for New Zealand. This is exciting and not something that was ever on my radar. We are flying to Auckland and then travelling south with different beekeepers and Kim is giving seven or eight talks along the way. I’m going to try and do a good job of journaling our travels this time.

Here at home we are excited to welcome two new ladies to our Bee Culture team. Kelsey started with us just before Christmas and is learning the ropes. We’ve got her answering the phone and handling a lot of our customer service. She’s helping with subscriptions, mailing, organizing the honey report and whatever we throw at her. She is very resilient and not afraid to tackle any job.

Brenda is just now joining our team and will be taking over the layout and design of BEEKeeping, Your First Three Years – our quarterly publication for beginners. She’ll also be helping me out with creating ads and promotional material for Bee Culture. This will help to free up some of my time so I can concentrate on several book projects that we have waiting on my desk.

The big one for this year is the next edition of ABC and XYZ. Kim and the team of editors have just about finished their part of gathering all of the content and photos and it’s just about to land on my desk. We did the last one over 10 years ago. This will be the 42nd edition. It will most likely be over 1,000 pages. So watch for it. I’ll keep you posted, but we’re hoping for Summer 2018.

July 21 Bee Culture will host our Annual Pollinator Day. Over the past four or five years we have planted several gardens on Root property and it has become quite impressive. We also have other groups that are managing gardens here. The Pollinator Partnership people have three plots and the Master Gardener’s have a plot. We have pollinator plots with seeds from Ernst Seeds, from Tractor Supply, and from a local co-op, Town & Country.

This year on Pollinator Day we will also have people from Project Apis m, the local Soil and Water people, Monarch Watch, a local bakery that makes their goods with local honey, local produce for sale, face painting, food and honey for sale. We put up tents and tables and we talk bees, bats, butterflies and pollination all day. So if you’re passing through Medina that day stop and say hello and enjoy the day with us. It’s free and we’d love to see you.

Bee Culture’s other annual event will be held October 19-21 right here in our Bee Culture Conference Center. This year we are bringing in four speakers that are going to tell their stories. They are very successful beekeepers from different areas of the U.S. with different stories to tell. Ray Olivarez who produces queens and bees in Hawaii and California will be here. Ray ships semi loads of package bees all over the U.S. We actually get our packages from Queen Right Colonies locally, who get them from Olivarez. Ray’s been here before to speak to our Medina group, and he and his wife Tammy and others came and visited our store. They were in the process of getting their store open and they liked what they saw here. They sell Root candles now.

John Miller has been here before too. He has two homes – northern California and Gackle, North Dakota. He makes honey, nucs and bees, pollinates and moves all over creation.

Bret Adee and his family are the biggest beekeepers in the “Universe.” They manage for pollination somewhere around 100,000 colonies. We’ve known Bret, his dad Richard and brother Kelvin for years and have visited their South Dakota operation a couple of times. but they’ve expanded and Bret runs the California operation now.

Mike Palmer’s operation is small by comparison to the rest, but he makes it work, and is in the best comb honey location in the world. He makes up nucs in the Spring, and extracts some honey in the Fall. He is, in our opinion, the perfect example of the independent beekeeper.

My Story from January to January – that’s what these four will tell you in October.

It will be a great weekend you don’t want to miss. These four will keep you entertained and we’ll feed you and even show you around the Root factory and warehouse if you come in early on Friday. Watch these pages and our web page for all of the details, but go ahead and mark your calendars now.

So far – it’s early February as I write this – all of the girls (hens) have made it through Winter. In a month four of them will be six years old. So right now we’re holding at 20. I don’t think we’ll be adding to the flock this year. I want to wait until I’m not so busy so I can do a better job at managing them while they’re babies. The last bunch we got are doing well, but they’re still very skittish. I think that’s because I didn’t spend enough time holding them and bonding with them.

And we will try ducks again, but not this year for the same reason – too busy. I think I’ve found a local guy though that can get me the Call ducks that we want. So maybe next Spring. After ABC is done.

I’ve lived in Ohio for about 40 years now and still have not really gotten used to Winter. I grew up in Texas and California – not places where you have to deal with a lot of snow, unless you want to. I’m a sissy when it comes to driving in snow and sleet. I just stay home. The cold I can handle. I just don’t do well with the driving. We had a major storm this week and woke up to flashing red and blue lights outside our house. There had been an accident. Two cars driving too fast and not paying attention on our very nasty curve. No one was hurt, but cars pretty much done. And rescue workers and police officers spending an hour plus in the snow and the cold.

So now we’re off to New Zealand, where I’m told it will be Summer. By the time we get back we’ll be very close to Spring in Northeast Ohio.