Bluegrass Beekeepers Association

Beekeepers in the Bluegrass

Association Meeting Information

The Bluegrass Beekeepers meet monthly throughout the year excluding January and August. The meetings are the second Monday of each month and include an always fabulous potluck starting at 7:00 p.m. The meetings are held at the Fayette County Extension Office in Lexington, Kentucky.

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From Phil Craft Bee Craft January 2012 An electronic newsletter from Phil Craft, Kentucky State Apiarist, retiredLink

My new webpage and beekeeping school updates
I’m happy to announce that my new webpage: is up!
Link More information follows regarding my new site and my plans for it in the future. Also in this issue, news about Kentucky beekeeping school updates. (Note: I’m having format issues with this issue of the newsletter, please bear with me.)

Development and birth of the webpage
Since the announcement of my “retirement” in early January I have been overwhelmed by the response from beekeepers expressing their dismay, not only at my job loss, but also at the interruption in our communication and in the advice I have been providing the beekeeping community for many years. I don’t want a break in the dialogue either; it has been the most rewarding aspect of the work I have been doing for the last 12 years.

That is the genesis of my new webpage. My goal for the site is to bring common sense, accurate advice to beekeepers, along with updates and other items of interest. The site will include beekeeping information sheets on various subjects which I will write to be downloadable by anyone. It will also have helpful links and a regularly maintained calendar of beekeeping educational events and meetings – initially concentrating on Kentucky and nearby states, but potentially growing to include a wider area if there is enough interest. Thanks to the urging and orchestration of my friend and webmaster Barry Richards, I will also make regular postings on the site’s main page in an online column to be called initially “Thoughts on Beekeeping from Phil Craft“. In this column I will, as I have in past newsletters, keep you abreast of what is happening in the ever changing world of beekeeping, give seasonal advice for both new and more experienced beekeepers, and possibly post questions and answers from emails that you send me. I‘ll also keep you posted on my speaking schedule and very likely ramble on with opinions which may not always be strictly confined to beekeeping.

I expect the webpage to evolve as we experiment with better ways to share information with visitors and as Barry pushes me to try new methods and technology. Don’t be surprised to see some reorganization and re-naming as we fine tune the site. And please, don’t stop emailing me with questions and posting comments to the webpage. As I said before, the dialogue I’ve had with beekeepers has been a great joy to me.

Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School attracts over 100 participants!
This year’s Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School came off without a hitch (that is to say without snow – last year’s school had to be cancelled due to a heavy snowfall) and close to 120 beekeepers, vendors, instructors and presenters clustered at the Hazard Community and Technical College for this year’s school. A good time and lots of beekeeping instruction were had by all. Thanks to Perry Amos and to Dr. Tammy Horn from Eastern Kentucky University’s Environmental Research Institute, the school featured a queen rearing track for the first time. Dr. Horn and Perry are planning an encore performance of the queen rearing classes at the Northeast
Beekeeping School in Morehead on February 25th in Morehead.

I want to thank Charles May, Perry County Agriculture Extension agent, who did the lions share of the planning and logistical work for this school, along with other Eastern Kentucky Extension agents and personnel who assisted. Most of these schools would not happen if it were not for the efforts of the University of Kentucky and Kentucky State University Extension Services.

For continued updates on upcoming beekeeping schools
For continued updates on upcoming beekeeping schools in Kentucky, head to the KY State Beekeepers Association webpage (you’ll also find a link for the site at my webpage). Information for all the schools can be found there (see the list below with included hyperlinks). Be aware that my old webpage at the Kentucky Dept. of Agriculture has not been updated since my “retirement” and I of course, am no longer able to update it. However, the KSBA webpage will be updated as more information about upcoming schools is available.

The next Kentucky beekeeping school will be the Allen County Beekeeping School in Scottsville. The program for that school, along with other information, has been posted on the KSBA webpage.

· February 4: Allen County Beekeeping School, Scottsville

· February 11: Southeast Beekeeping School, Stearns

· March 3: Audubon Bee School, Henderson

· March 10: Bluegrass Beekeeping School, Frankfort
Special guest speaker- Dr. Dewey Caron

Phil’s speaking schedule
One of the features of my new webpage will be the posting of my speaking schedule, along with my talk topics and additional details or links to the events. I look forward to seeing you at one of these events. I will be appearing and speaking, in some capacity, at all six of this year’s Kentucky beekeeping schools, as previously scheduled.

To have THIS NEW NEWSLETTER sent directly to you!
If you received this newsletter directly in an email from me, then you are on my email list. If someone has forwarded you this issue and you would like to have future issues emailed directly to you, you may sign up by clicking on the “Contact Phil” box on the upper right corner of my webpage (a message box will appear).

In addition to this newsletter, I sometimes send out special announcements and notices, some of these to beekeepers in a specific regional area, regarding events of a more local nature. So it is helpful to know where you live (town). And I’m always just interested in knowing more about you and your beekeeping activities, interests or future plans.

Note: A version of this newsletter more suitable for printing (Word or Adobe document) is available upon request. And I don’t mind if you make copies and distribute this newsletter.

Keep those smokers lit and your bee veils on!

Phil Craft, Kentucky State Apiarist, retired

PO Box 259
Wilmore, KY 40390


Phil’s NEW webpage:

Kentucky State Beekeepers Association webpage:

This is a quote from the link below. “Comer’s office says Kentucky isn’t eliminating the state’s beekeeping program—he just wants to appoint his own people to positions. But the dismissal of an experienced, nationally recognized and admired apiarist is raising eyebrows in the agricultural community.”

I would like to thank Phil Craft for all his work in helping beekeepers and promoting beekeeping education in the state of Kentucky for the last 12 years . I think his presence in the department of agriculture will be missed by all.

Phil Craft’s “NEW Beekeeping Newsletter” January 2012

An electronic newsletter from Phil Craft, Kentucky State Apiarist, retired

My retirement and upcoming Kentucky beekeeping schools
As many of you may have learned, as of January 3rd I became the Kentucky State Apiarist, retired. While I had contemplated retirement at some point, this early transition was the decision of the new Kentucky commissioner of agriculture. I’ll talk more about the transition and my retirement plans later in this newsletter, and provide my new contact information. However, the main content of this newsletter regards information on the six upcoming beekeeping schools, which will take place as in years past. The only difference is my inability to update the Kentucky Department of Agriculture webpage with information about the schools. I have no idea whether that page will stay up, however information will be available through the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association webpage at:


2012 Kentucky Regional Beekeeping Schools
Between January 21 and March 10, six regional, one-day beekeeping schools will once again be held in Kentucky. These schools all have multi-session classes with topics of interest for all levels of beekeeping experience, including beginner classes for the new beekeepers. Vendors displaying and selling beekeeping equipment will set up at all the schools.

For more information on these schools, including programs, pre-registration forms, directions, lists of vendors present, etc., go to the webpage of the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association. Please note that more information for each school will be posted as it is passed on to me. I’m including some details on some of the schools in this newsletter, especially the Hazard Beekeeping school which will take place in less than two weeks.

  • Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School, Hazard – January 21, 2012
  • Allen County Beekeeping School, Scottsville – February 4, 2012
  • Southeast Kentucky Beekeeping School, Corbin – February 11, 2012
  • Northeast Kentucky Beekeeping School, Morehead – February 25, 2012
  • Audubon Beekeeping School, Henderson – March 2, 2012
  • Bluegrass Beekeeping School, Frankfort – March 10, 2012

Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School, Hazard – January 21, 2012
The Eastern Kentucky Beekeeping School will again be held at the Hazard Community and Technical College. The college is located just east of Hazard off Kentucky route15 on One Community College Drive. This year the school will include both a beginner track of classes and a QUEEN REARING TRACK FOR ADVANCED BEEKEEPERS. In addition there will be many other classes of interest for beekeepers, including numerous hive management topics and sessions on producing value added products such as making beeswax candles and pollen trapping.

You can download the complete program and pre-registration form at the KSBA webpage. Pre-registration is not required, but it will save you $5 and help us with meal planning (pre-registration fee $20 or $25 at the door – includes lunch).

Bluegrass Beekeeping School, Frankfort (at KY State University) – March 10, 2012
While this school will not take place until March, I want to talk about it briefly to reassure everyone that it will take place as usual (some people have been concerned about this school due to my heavy involvement in school planning as the Kentucky State Apiarist) and to let everyone know that our special guest speaker this year will be Dr. Dewey Caron, Emeritus Professor of Entomology at the University of Delaware. Some of you know Dewey from his past appearances at the 2007 Heartland Apicultural Society Conference in Frankfort and the 2008 Eastern Apicultural Society Conference at Murray State University. Dr. Caron will give the opening talk at the bluegrass school this year and do two breakout talks. In Dr. Caron we have a presenter who will share with us extremely practical beekeeping information in a manner that is very dynamic. We are in for a treat! So mark your calendar for March 10th and make plans to be in Frankfort that day.

January Beekeeping Activities
This is the time of year Kentucky beekeepers move their beekeeping activities inside (for the most part – I have promised my wife I will clean up my beekeeping equipment junk pile outside this winter). This is, of course, a great time to repair old equipment and assemble and paint new woodenware. But we also need to start placing orders for package bees and queens. Suppliers are taking orders and it is on a first come first serve basis. This is especially true if you want queens or package bees in April; those early April dates will fill up fast. All the companies should have catalogs mailed out, if you have not received 2012 catalogs from vendors you might check their webpages to learn when they will be mailed or to request one if you are not on their mailing list.

My retirement transition and future plans
I was employed as the Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s State Apiarist in 1999 by Commissioner Billy Ray Smith. This position was a non-merit or non-classified position, which means it had no protection from immediate dismissal, and continued employment was always at the pleasure of the current commissioner of agriculture. My services were continued by Commissioner Richie Farmer upon his election in 2004. On January 3rd, 2012 I was informed by letter that my services as the Kentucky State Apiarist were no longer required by the newly elected commissioner (who had taken office the day before).

My future plans?
My long term professional plans are not yet formulated and I’m not in any rush to seek future employment. However, I will continue, as much as possible, to provide information and assistance to beekeepers, especially Kentucky beekeepers – hence this newsletter. I always said that I had a great job, spending most of my work days talking with beekeepers on the telephone and via email, writing beekeeping articles, working one on one with beekeepers in their apiaries and attending beekeeping meetings. I had always hoped that upon retirement I could keep on doing many of the parts of the job that I most enjoyed. I still have that desire, so I will continue to produce a beekeeping newsletter, perhaps even on a more regular schedule than I did as state apiarist. After all, I just eliminated a two hour commute to and from the office. At this time I’m not sure what I will call the new newsletter, so watch for a new name on the next edition. (More on my email list below). I also have plans to create a NEW beekeeping information webpage which will contain even more information than my old webpage at KDA (I‘ll let you know when this webpage goes up, hopefully SOON, via email). Until the new webpage goes up I will use the KY State Beekeepers Assoc. webpage to keep beekeepers informed on upcoming beekeeping events, including the schools. Beekeepers can continue to ask me questions and request information at my new email address at I hope you use this email address as you have my KDA email address in the past. I do plan to attend and speak at all of the 2012 beekeeping schools, as I have in the past, and hope to see many of you there. So I’m not gone, I’m just starting my reorientation flights!

To have THIS NEW NEWSLETTER sent directly to you!
If you received this newsletter directly from, then I already have your email address and have tentatively added you to my new newsletter email list. If someone has forwarded you this issue of my new newsletter and you would like to have future issues emailed directly to you, send me an email to the above email address. I organize my email list by name, so PLEASE sign your email list request with first and last name. Also, if you are a Kentucky beekeeper, I very much appreciate knowing where you live so I can pass along regional beekeeping information from time to time (such as local beekeeping meetings and activities), so PLEASE let me know the town where you reside or get your mail. (Any other information is optional, but I do enjoy knowing something about your beekeeping experience and just more about you). If you are not from Kentucky I need only your full name and home state; any other information is optional. (If you are not interested in receiving future emails from me also just let me know via email.)

Note: A version of this newsletter more suitable for printing (Word or Adobe document) is available upon request. And I don’t mind if you make copies and distribute this newsletter.

Keep those smokers lit and your bee veils on!

Phil Craft, Kentucky State Apiarist, retired
PO Box 259
Wilmore, KY 40390


Kentucky State Beekeepers Association webpage:

From the Christmas customs archives.

There is an old belief that early on Christmas Morning all bees will leave their hives, swarm, and then return. Many old Scots tell tales of having witnessed this happening, though no-one can explain why. One explanation is that bees get curious about their surroundings, and if there is unexpected activity they will want to check it out to see if there is any danger. As people were often up and about on Christmas night observing various traditions, or just returning from the night services, the bees would sense the disturbance and come out to see what was going on.

Merry Christmas