Category Archives: Schools, classes, beekeeping groups, education

Press release from the University of Kentucky Former State Apiarist Teaching Beekeeping Courses at UK’s EREC

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Sept. 22, 2015) — Retired Kentucky State Apiarist Phil Craft is bringing his professional beekeeping expertise and more than 15 years of experience to the University of Kentucky with two courses at the Ecological Research and Education Center (EREC).

The courses, open to members of the UK community and the public, are for those who may be just beginning — the “Beginning Beekeeping – Getting Started” course — or for those somewhat more experienced, but still needing some direction — the “Beyond Beginning Beekeeping” course. Both courses cost $40 each and will be held at the EREC at 1737 Russell Cave Road in Lexington. Continue reading

More on the 2013 Kentucky Beekeeping Schools

Just a quick followup to an earlier post on Kentucky beekeeping schools. The Allen County Beekeeping School will be held this Saturday – February 2nd – in Scottsville. More information and registration forms for all of the schools can be found at the Kentucky State Beekeepers Assoc. webpage.

The March 9th Bluegrass Beekeepers School in Frankfort welcomes Dr. Jeffrey Harris from Mississippi State University as the keynote speaker. Michael Bush from Bush Farms in Nebraska will also travel to Kentucky for the Frankfort school. One of Michael’s presentations will be on top bar hives.

I will be present and speaking at most of these regional schools. I hope to see you there.


My New Q&A Column, Ask “Dr.” Phil in Bee Culture Magazine

If you are a reader of Bee Culture magazine, you have likely seen my new question & answer column, titled Ask “Dr.” Phil, in the January issue.

This new monthly column is the result of a series of conversations with Bee Culture editor, Kim Flottum. He asked me about writing some articles for the magazine and, during discussions about possible formats, I told him I would be most interested in writing a Q&A column because answering questions is something that I both enjoy and spend a lot of my time doing. That was certainly the case when I was the Kentucky State Apiarist; a large part of my job was responding to questions, mostly from beekeepers, but sometimes from the general public as well. They came to me through the telephone, at meetings, and in emails. Continue reading

2013 Kentucky Regional Beekeeping School Schedule Announced

Planning is underway across Kentucky for six regional beekeeping schools to be held between January 19th and March 10th, 2013. Every year over a thousand beekeepers across the commonwealth are introduced to beekeeping or improve their skills and knowledge through classes at these schools. Sessions for all levels of skill will be offered, including beginning beekeeping instruction for those with no past experience. In addition, beekeeping supply companies will be present at vendor shows at all of the schools. This is an opportunity to inspect and compare beekeeping equipment, ask questions, and make purchases or place orders. These schools are the result of  the cooperative efforts of local Kentucky beekeeping associations, beekeepers, and the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University Extension programs.

As it becomes available, additional information and updates for each school will be found at the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association webpage.

  • January 19: Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School, Hazard
  • February 2: Allen County Beekeeping School, Scottsville
  • February 9: Southeast Beekeeping School, Williamsburg
  • February 23: Northeast KY Beekeeping School, Morehead
  • March 2: Audubon Bee School, Henderson
  • March 9: Bluegrass Beekeeping School, Frankfort

Beekeeping association educational apiaries – a good idea!

While in St. Louis last week, I visited the educational apiary of the Eastern Missouri Beekeepers Association (EMBA) with my friend Bob Sears, who is president of the association and was involved in establishing their apiary several years ago. Along with beekeeping classes, schools, and mentoring programs, association apiaries are, I’m convinced, an invaluable service that beekeeping associations can offer their members.

Easterm Missouri Beekeepers Assoc. Educational apiary

The Eastern Missouri beekeepers have developed an integrated educational program for new beekeepers, comprised of all of the programs I listed above. The association apiary is key to offering hands on instruction to the members, especially newer ones.  While it is possible to use members’ hives and apiaries in beekeeper education (as many groups do through Saturday afternoon field days), logically and educationally, it is far better to have a bee yard that is dedicated to education and is owned and maintained by the association. Continue reading

HAS in St. Louis, May 5, 2012 – update

I returned last night from a quick trip to St. Louis for a tour of the University of Missouri in St. Louis, where the July 12-14, Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS) will be held. I had not previously visited the conference site, and I was very pleased with the facilities. Virtually all of the conference activities will take place at the J.C. Penney Conference Center, with the exception of the labs and apiary, which will both be within about 200 yards of the center.

I also met with a group of St. Louis beekeepers who will be organizing many of the conference activities. The energy level of this group is very high and I am looking forward to the conference. Progress on the program is on going, but some of the speakers who are planning to join us and whose names you will recognize are:  Jim Tew, Kim Flottum, Greg Hunt, Tom Webster, Michael Bush, and Stu Jacobson. I‘ll have more names for you soon. The popular queen rearing course will once again be part of the conference program. Watch the HAS webpage for speaker and program details. I hope to have a pre-registration form available for download from the site in the next week.

Heartland Apicultural Society conference to be held in St. Louis, Missouri, July 12 – 14th

The Heartland Apicultural Society (HAS) is a mid-west beekeeping organization dedicated to assisting beekeepers through education. This is accomplished by an annual, 3 day conference held at a different site each summer. The conference features plenary presentations by university research and extension speakers, classroom talks, and hands on “in the apiary” sessions. Presenters are not only the university folks and others whose articles you read in beekeeping magazines, but also experienced local beekeepers and  “regular” attendees (folks like Kent Williams from here in Kentucky, though some of these also write articles for the magazines).

This year’s conference will be held at the University of Missouri in St. Louis from July 12th through the 14th. A large vendor show is always part of the gathering, along with evening events, and tours to see sights in the St. Louis area. There will be college dormitory housing and meals available at an economical cost for participants. I expect this year’s meeting to be another GREAT learning opportunity and a fun experience for all that attend.

I served as HAS president in 2007, when the annual conference was last held in Kentucky, and as HAS chairman from 2008 – 20010. Due to my friendships in the HAS fold and in St. Louis, I have agreed to jump in and assist in working out the final details for this year’s conference.

Our goal is to get a list of some of the conference speakers up on the HAS webpage in the next few days, followed quickly by more detailed information and a pre-registration form. I will also be doing posts on this webpage to keep you informed as we proceed.

I will be traveling to St. Louis in the near future to look over the facilities for myself and to meet with volunteers there. If you live in the St. Louis area or plan to attend the conference and wish to help, please let me know.

Spoke at a beekeeping meeting in Tennessee last night, without leaving the house!

Last night I had a new experience. I spoke at a beekeeping meeting in Tennessee without leaving my old Kentucky home. This was accomplished via a video conference link coordinated by Barry Richards, the webmaster of this site. Barry is very good at the new high-tech stuff, and is doing his best to drag me into 21st century technology. When we first set up this webpage, Barry mentioned the possibility of doing presentations at beekeeping meetings by video conferencing, but I was not real excited about the possibility. Continue reading

2012 Bluegrass Beekeeping School – list of presentations on KSBA webpage

A list of presentations to be given at the Bluegrass Beekeeping School in Frankfort on March 10th has been added to the Bluegrass Beekeeping School webpage. A schedule with times for each class should be up by the end of the week. In addition, updated information on the Frankfort Bee Friendly weekend has also been added.

Beekeeping education

The need for continued beekeeping education cannot be over stressed. I always tell those interested in beekeeping that taking care of honey bees is an entirely different type of animal husbandry. If we really think about it -really think about it – keeping an insect as a domesticated animal – though they are not actually domesticated – is downright strange.

Other livestock, such as horses, cows, goats, and pigs, are mammals. With mammals, we can look for some of the same symptoms that we look for in ourselves or our children when ill. For example, I have an old dog who is always underfoot in our house. Even though she can’t speak to tell me when something is wrong, her behavior communicates a great deal. Does she have a good appetite, or is she suddenly leaving food in her bowl? Is she active (at least as active as a 17 year old dog can be), or does she seem uninterested when I say the magic word? (The magic word is outside.) My wife thinks it’s gross, but I note her bowel movements. Do the feces look normal? These symptomatic behaviors strike a familiar chord. Continue reading