Who’s Phil Craft or About me
When asked for a biography by groups which I address at beekeeping meetings and other events, this is what I provide:
Phil served as the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture’s State Apiarist from 1999 through 2011. He is a graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio (BA in biology), and the University of Kentucky (BS in civil engineering). He is a past president and past chairman of the Heartland Apicultural Society, past program chairman of Eastern Apicultural Society, and past president of the Apiary Inspectors of America. A native of the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, he now lives out in the sticks in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky near Lexington with his family, a very old dog, and some bee hives.
To add a little flesh to those bare bones: both of my grandfathers were Eastern Kentucky beekeepers, a circumstance which helped spark my interest in beekeeping and which I’ve found to be a common thread among beekeepers I meet. My actual beekeeping journey began when my wife and I moved out of Lexington into the country to get a little closer to nature. I have a great interest in natural history, and my favorite vacation destination is the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most of our travel is to areas of untouched wilderness across the country. I’ve been taking photographs since high school (I was photographer for my high school year book) and last year finally upgraded my 1978 Nikon film camera for a new Nikon digital camera with a close up lens for photographing bees and flowers. I’m an avid reader with eclectic tastes. While I will never give up REAL books (I love sitting by the fireplace or on the porch while reading a good book), I am interested in acquiring an electronic device for books as well. This will help to lighten the satchel of books I lug with me when I travel.
While state apiarist, working with beekeepers and cooperative extension agents, I helped to establish of a statewide network of six regional beekeeping schools and also helped foster the growth of local beekeeper associations in Kentucky. During my tenure, the number of local associations grew from about 15 to well over 40. Needless to say, I’m a big proponent of both local and state beekeeping associations, and of beekeeper education.
Like bees, I am a social animal, and while working as the Kentucky State Apiarist, I discovered that one of the great joys of the position was working with and communicating with beekeepers. This interplay started as I attended and spoke at beekeeping meetings across the state in 1999, and continued with phone calls and questions via email. Over time, the emails grew into an email newsletter, THE BUZZ!, which I actually began in order to pass along beekeeping information to county extension agents to aid them in their outreach to beekeepers in their home counties. I strongly support our university extension system, and have enjoyed working with agents during the last 12 years. I hope to continue the collaboration in my new ventures.
As time went by, I received more and more requests from people wanting to be added to my email newsletter list or “THE BUZZ list”, as it came to be called. These requests came from across the state and from some beekeepers outside Kentucky, even from as far away as India. Interest from states surrounding Kentucky greatly increased after Dr. Tom Webster, Kentucky State University Apiculture Extension Specialist, and Dr. Greg Hunt, Purdue Entomology professor and honey bee researcher, organized the Heartland Apiculture Society (HAS0 and held it’s first summer conference at Midway College near Frankfort in 2002.
By late 2011, my newsletter was being sent directly to over 1500 beekeepers and about 150 Kentucky extension agents. Taking into consideration email forwarding, distribution of printed copies by extension agents and beekeeping groups, and reprinting (Articles from THE BUZZ have appeared in beekeeping newsletters in Indiana, Tennessee, Missouri and others.),I estimate that THE BUZZ was reaching literally thousands of beekeepers in and beyond Kentucky.
Along the way I’ve also had many opportunities to interact with beekeepers and beekeeping professionals in person through organizations such as HAS, other regional and other national beekeeping organizations, a number of state beekeeping associations, some local associations outside Kentucky, folks in the beekeeping supply business, my friends at the beekeeping magazines, honey bee researchers, and my colleagues employed in state apiary positions across the United States and Canada. All of these contacts accumulated over almost 13 years gave me a wide variety of resources that I was able to employ in providing services to Kentucky’s beekeepers.
With my recent retirement, I’m taking some time to explore possible future endeavors. While doing that, I’m going to continue to maintain my contacts and do many of the things I did while state apiarist, because I want to. That will include this webpage, my “new” newsletter, answering questions and corresponding with beekeepers, and some speaking. And, perhaps, some new adventures that I will share with you at this webpage. As I said before “I’m not gone, I’m just re-orienting from a new hive location”!