Beekeeping in Vermont

Beekeeping in Vermont

Meet James Key

James Key is the Director-at-large on the VBA board of directors.

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Education: B.A. from Norwich University, Self-Designed Major, with focus on Ethno-Botanicals and their Healing Properties.
"I've been published with a couple of articles related to the subject. Before my present career, I was in the food industry, selling food to all of the Hannaford stores in Chittenden county. Also, supplying the now largest health food stores, Healthy Living and City Market.
Over the last 9 years before Covid, I worked in the lab at UVM Medical Center. My work there ended when the outbreak began, during the Spring of that year. While working at the Hospital, my interest in beekeeping began, out of trying to solve the problem of why there wasn't a presence of honey bees around my garden.
"I began over the winter of 2017 to seriously focus on my quest. I started in the spring of 2018 taking a class from a woman in Williamstown and, during that same year, joined the VBA.

"I met Ross Conrad a  year later and was met with a promise to share at any time the knowledge of Beekeeping. He offered not only that but free classes because of his knowledge of my finances and his inspiration to see me become Vermont's first, African-American Certified Beekeeper. 
"With his help and the others who have become great mentors, Andrew Munkres, Michael Palmer, and including Bill Mares, I've achieved
my Vermont BeeKeeper's Certification two years. ago.
"I've been using bees from Andrew Munkres since and will continue to work with them. I use his technique and other IPM techniques, developing them as I gain knowledge.
I use knowledge from Ross, Bill, Mike's double Nuc method and books recommended. The list of things learned and being learned is continuing to grow.
"I'm a full-time beekeeper, with hopes to build up from the 11 hives, to 25 next year. I currently am living in Stockbridge, VT. I'm a registered Bee Farm Business and Licensed Caterer."

2021 VBA Summer Meeting Agenda

2021 VBA Summer Meeting Agenda
September 4, 2021 at the Brandon Town Hall, Brandon, VT

8:45am Check-in

9:00am Welcome from Bernie Carr, Executive Director of the Brandon Chamber of Commerce and Unofficial Mayor of Brandon.

9:10am Opening remarks VBA President Andrew Munkres

Read more ...

VBA 2021 Summer Meeting

Bee in Brandon smRegister Today

Saturday, September 4, 2021 - 8:45am - 4:30pm
Brandon Town Hall, Brandon, VT

The meeting agenda is available. Please register today for this important meeting - free for all VBA members.
Registration is required - No walk-ins. Attendance limited to 100 people.

Please note: Masks will be required of all attendees.

Important information about COVID precautions.

In addition to the business meeting, raffle, and awards presentations, we will be featuring two presentations on Varroa mite management from David T. Peck, Ph.D., the Director of Research and Education at Betterbee.


This year, you have several options for lunch. Either brown-bag it or take advantage of one of the eleven restaurants to be found in Brandon within a five minute walk of the meeting location. Brandon has recently completed a multi-year rennovation of the downtown and the results are a very walkable, beautiful venue. Plan to make a day of it. Before the meeting we will publish a guide to Brandon featuring local businesses and restaurants to help you plan your visit. Ample free parking is available in a municipal lot adjacent to the Brandon Town Hall.

Please register today as space is limited and be sure to read this article to the end for important information about how to register.

Our presentations:

Talk 1) Varroa destructor: History, Biology, Transmission, and Monitoring
Most beekeepers get into beekeeping because we're fascinated by the harmonious cooperation of a bee colony.  When we think about parasites like Varroa destructor, we often want to learn just enough to understand how to kill them, and then we want to push thoughts of them from our minds. In this talk, we'll deeply discuss the parasite mite Varroa destructor, taking to heart the axiom "Know thine enemy".  We'll discuss varroa as an organism in its own right, its evolutionary history, its fundamental biology, its transmission between colonies, and best practices to monitor mite levels in a bee colony or an apiary.  Each of these topics will help to make you a more effective manager of mites in your colonies, by giving you a new perspective on varroa as a wiley and dynamic enemy and not just a distasteful and passive problem to be dealt with.

Talk 2) Varroa Management: Treatments, Integrated Pest Management, and Naturally and Artificially Selected Bee Resistance to Mites
Dr. Peck will explore the various miticidal treatments that can be used to manage Varroa destructor in bee colonies, and will also discuss why previously-effective treatments are no longer used.  We will discuss both chemical and non-chemical methods to try to manage mite infestation, and will tie this to research on the way honey bees live in the wild and the idea of "Darwinian Beekeeping".  We will also examine the different mechanisms of mite resistance that bee breeders have pursued, as well as the mite-resistance traits of "survivor" colonies that have been able to persist without mite treatments (and sometimes without any beekeeper intervention at all.) 

David PeckOur speaker: David T. Peck, Ph.D.

Dr. Peck is the Director of Research and Education at Betterbee, in Greenwich NY.  His doctoral work at Cornell University's Department of Neurobiology and Behavior was supervised by Professor Tom Seeley.  His dissertation research focused on the transmission of mites between bee colonies, as well as the mite-resistance traits of the untreated honey bees living in Cornell's Arnot Forest.  After earning his degree he has continued to research varroa/bee interactions, including field work in Newfoundland Canada (where varroa still have not arrived) and Anosy Madagascar (where varroa arrived only in 2010 or 2011).  He has served as a teaching postdoctoral fellow in Cornell's Department of Entomology, and is still affiliated with Cornell through the Veterinary College's Honey Bee Health program.  Dr. Peck has kept bees for more than a decade, though his home apiary is usually full of mite-riddled research colonies so he doesn't usually produce much honey.

Space is limited!

Instructions: Please register for the VBA 2021 Summer Meeting by clicking the button below. Current members should login if they have not already done so. Registration is free for current VBA members. (Why not join the VBA now?)

This year, due to concerns about COVID, registration is required. You will receive an entry ticket in your confirmation email which you must present to be admitted. You may either present a printed copy or bring the ticket on your smartphone.

When you register you will have the option of registering as an individual or as a group. The Group Registration should be used if you have a Family membership. You may enter up to a total of four people in the group registration as long as those other family members are listed in your membership. To check, please review your membership profile:

COVID-19 considerations: VBA is following the state guidelines for COVID and is aware the situation may change at any time. To that end, we may need to limit the number of people in attendance in order to maintain social distancing. We also have made plans to stream the meeting online in the event it becomes necessary. Please watch your email inbox and this page for the latest updates. If you find you are unable to attend after registering, please return to the registration page and cancel your registration.


Register for the Meeting

If You Missed It...

If you missed tonight's free presentation - How to Recognize and Mitigate Honey Bee Pests and Disease, co-hosted by SABA and the VBA - the session recording is available to VBA members online. Presented by Brooke Decker, Vermont State Apiarist, and New York State Apiarist, Joan Mahoney, the program covers what you need to watch for when keeping healthy colonies.

Log in to the site and look under the Calendar menu for Past Workshop Recordings to find the link to the Zoom recording.

Requeening Honey Bee Colonies

If you missed Thursday evening's online workshop - Requeening Honey Bee Colonies - the video is available online under our Calendar menu. (Look for Past Workshop Recordings. Login required.)

VBA President Andrew Munkres presented one of the most interesting sessions we've hosted with practical information you can use to manage your colonies.

@Billings Farm and Museum

PeterHadeka BillingsPeter Hadeka presenting to day campers at the Billings Farm and Museum in Woodstock last week. Good group of youngsters... seemed interested in bees and pollination. They especially liked the Observation Hive.

American Foul Brood (AFB) Confirmed in Addison County

June 28, 2021 - American Foul Brood (AFB) Paenibacillus larva has been confirmed at a Vermont apiary in the New Haven/ Bristol/ Lincoln region of Addison County. Beekeepers with registered apiaries within 3- miles of the outbreak have been notified.

The hive and associated equipment have been destroyed by fire, by the beekeeper. The remaining colony is under quarantine and enhanced inspection protocols.

Read more ...

The Bees' Needs

 Seven Days Pollinator Issue

Vermonters Are Protecting and Championing Imperiled Pollinators

VBA president Andrew Munkres and past president Chas Mraz are featured in the Seven Days Pollinator Issue. Andrew discusses swarms with Ken Picard while Chas talks "Pollinators, Pesticides and Connectedness."PollinatorLogo Tag2

The issue includes looks at artists portraying pollinators, state legislation and non-profits working to protect pollinators as well as ancillary products that come from our honey bees like beer and bee wraps. (By the way, the Pollinator Partnership reminds us that this week is Pollinator Week.)