Last month, I mentioned a great new podcast, PolliNation. It’s produced by Andony Melathopoulos, a university professor at Oregon State. The PolliNation podcast series is very nicely produced and Andony has a voice made for podcasting. As a bonus, he has a background in practical beekeeping as well as research. He knows what he’s talking about when he talks about bees. The 30-minute PolliNation interviews are so good that I can’t begin to imagine how a new one gets published every few days. Number 9 was just released! Each is worth your ears’ efforts, so if you have not yet tuned in, you’re now behind by four and one-half hours of good beekeeping talk.
PolliNation’s most recent entry is a chat with Dr. Meghan Milbrath. She is owner and manager of The Sand Hill Apiary, a queen-rearing operation. It’s rather unusual, as far as queen companies go, because it’s not located in a semi-tropical southern region. Meghan is in Michigan. Her intent is to help develop bees more suited to northern climates. Although southern queen breeders often have northern mother stock (and may hope to saturate their area with northern drone stock), if they are in southern California (for example), the queens will end up mating with at least some local drones. Meghan does not diss the good southern queen breeders, but by definition, they cannot provide ‘local’ queens to northern beekeepers.
Because of the scarcity of northern breeders, one of her initiatives involves pairing ‘local’ queen producers with ‘local’ queen buyers. A task slightly more challenging than pairing cheese and wine, I think. In the past, most local queens were matched to new beekeepers by word of mouth, said Meghan. Sometimes you’d ask someone at the local bee club who would know someone else who would pull a paper from a pocket and pass along an elusive connection to a local queen breeder. You could see this going down in a McDonald’s parking lot sometime after midnight, too. To make this system easier and more transparent, one could turn to the Northern Bee Network, which Dr Milbrath runs. If you look at NBN’s website, you’ll see that it’s now easier to find a local, northern, small-scale queen or nuc producer. Here’s an image of the map on the site last night:
The interview with Dr Milbrath is just the latest in Andony Melathopolous’s series of bee talks. Be sure to subscribe. It’s free, but the information is priceless. You can listen or download on your computer through the podcast’s main website or search PolliNation in iTunes and load up your device with bees, beekeeping, and pollination stories.