7:30 pm Doug Sponsler, Ph. D. “The world’s best forager vs. the world’s most complicated landscape: Three years of studying honey bee foraging in Philadelphia”
Urban landscapes are characterized by an extensive impervious matrix finely intermixed with relatively small patches of greenspace. The vegetation of these patches can be eclectic, characterize by a mixture of disturbance-adapted wild species, human-cultivated ornamentals, and remnants or restorations of mature plant communities. Our research explores how each of these types of flora–ornamentals, weeds, and remnants–contribute to honey bee foraging in Philadelphia, revealing the advent of novel ecological function in the flora of a novel ecosystem.
Doug Sponsler is a Philadelphia native who studied biology at Cedarville University in Ohio and get his PhD. in entomology at Ohio State University. Currently, Doug is a postdoctoral scholar in Penn State University’s Center for Pollinator Research. Doug’s research, teaching, and outreach concentrate especially on urban systems. His current work includes a study of pollinator foraging ecology in urban Philadelphia.
11:00 am Sam Comfort, “Swarm the State: A Stinging Past and Sweet Future”
Beekeeping is changing all the time. While commercial hives are becoming industrialized and dependent on chemicals, bees are still resilient and can thrive in natural systems. The talk will describe both commercial queen production and how to sustain and grow your own healthy bees with simple methods that follow bee biology.
Sam Comfort grew up right outside of Philadelphia and worked for several years in commercial beekeeping across the country before starting Anarchy Apiaries in 2005. Through breeding queens from hardy, treatment-free survivor stock and experimenting with methods and hive designs, the mission is to 1) make more beehives than there are televisions, and 2) have a good time, all the time (with bees). Anarchy Apiaries runs approximately 1000 hives and 1500 mating nucs on the permaculture principal of minimal input; no treatments, minimal feeding, and do-it-yourself hive boxes in New York and Florida. Through teaching self-contained, self-reliant beekeeping, Sam hopes to make it more affordable, approachable, and enjoyable, and thus bring the means of production back to the beekeeper.
12:30 pm Sean Benjamin / Matt Shoemaker, “Introduction to Meadmaking”
In this presentation, Sean and Matt will walk through a brief history of mead before diving into everything you need to know to make your first batch at home. Sean will walk you through the process step-by-step, demonstrating all of the equipment needed as we make a small batch right before your eyes! In addition to the mead making equipment on display, you will get the opportunity to taste various meads and take home the information you need to get started.
Sean Benjamin started making mead in 2006. At that time mead was difficult to find in stores and making it was a better option in his mind than ordering it from overseas. Since then he has won several contest medals sponsored by WineMaker Magazine. He has also taught mead making at the Philadelphia Honey Festival and other venues since 2013.
Matt Shoemaker has been keeping bees in Philadelphia since 2011, after falling in love with making mead and wanting a more rewarding access to honey besides buying it. Matt’s most recent bee-related venture was to create a board game, “Bee Lives: We Will Only Know Summer,” for game and bee enthusiasts to learn more about bee behavior in the Philadelphia region. You can learn more about Matt and this game at www.beelivesgame.com or come and play it at the Honey Festival.
11:30 am Samuel Omar Torres “History of Apiculture: From Honey Hunters to Modern Beekeeping”
Sam will talk about humans’ first encounters with honey bees and the transition into domestication. Attendees will get to see what it was like to keep bees as far back as ancient Egypt all the way up to present day. Sam Torres studied horticulture at Temple University. While there, he learned how to keep bees through his mentor Professor Vincent Aloyo who is an EAS-certified Master Beekeeper. It has been 6 years since Sam started keeping bees and he is the proud owner/operator of Keystone Colonies Beekeeping Company in Philadelphia. Sam looks forward to perfecting his craft for the rest of his life!
1:30 pm Stephanie C. Brown “Adventures in Volunteer Urban Beekeeping: Time, Distance, Money, and Honey”
In this informal talk, Stephanie will discuss the challenges and rewards of amateur beekeeping when the colonies are located over a mile from home. How can you manage bee hives if you can’t see them every day? What do bees offer a small organization and how can the organization help the bees? Stephanie is a volunteer beekeeper at Mill Creek Urban Farm zhttps://www.millcreekurbanfarm.org/), a small organic farm in West Philadelphia. She began beekeeping in 2017. Stephanie has lived in West Philadelphia for 19 years (not including her college years at Penn, where she earned a degree in communications). Stephanie is a full-time communications specialist.