The internet is a very big place! Or… sorting through it all – Part I

Since I got interested in beekeeping, waaaaay back in 2007, and went to “bee school”, as you do, the whole world has sort of exploded with an AMAZING amount of beekeeping information.

The internet being what it is, and especially with YouTube being so accessible and easy to publish on (maybe too easy!) – you can now search the internet for just about anything and get a ton of bee-related information!  Some of it is great, and some of it… well not so much.  You might even find you’ve got way more information than you can digest in an entire lifetime!  Eventually you come to realize that there are some folks with some really good things to say, and that some of those same folks are also really good at saying it.  The websites and blogs and YouTube videos that those folks create and make available to everyone are wonderful good resources, and we’ve come to appreciate some of them a LOT, and we’d like to share them with you.

This list is in order more or less chronologically – in other words, in (almost) the order I discovered these sources, so it creates a sketch of how Gold Star Honeybees came to be what it is as well.

I began by going to “bee school”, as you do, by attending the classes that the Knox-Lincoln County Beekeepers Association held at the Knox-Lincoln County Cooperative Extension office, in 2007.  I am grateful to Al Maloney who was the webmaster for the KLCB at that time and hooked me up with the start date of that class, to Jean Vose and her husband Dick, who organized that bee school for many many years and still like to brag that KLCB was my “alma mater”, and to Tony Jadczak, our State Apiarist here in Maine, who continues to march forward and does an awful lot with not very many resources (Maine is very big place too!).

But I found Langstroth hives and conventional methods a bit disconcerting.  Something didn’t strike me as quite right about all this “help” that the bees seemed be getting.  Hadn’t somebody told me that bees had been around for literally MILLIONS of years?   And we’ve only been here for a couple hundred thousand.  There seemed to be a disconnect there.  Obviously bees must have been pretty capable of survival before we showed up to save them.

So I kept sort of idly digging around, and pretty soon I hit paydirt.

First –  After Googling for about 4 months in early 2007 and somehow coming up empty, all of a sudden, there on my screen – was this English guy’s website.  With a free document available for download called “How to Build Your Own Top Bar Hive”.   I imagine that everybody in the world knows about Phil Chandler by now – he keeps a Flag Counter on his website showing the flags of all the countries of all the people who have visited his site.  And there are so many flags on that counter page now – flags of countries whose names I can’t even pronounce, much less could I say where they are – he is truly an international source for beekeepers.  Phil also runs the Natural Beekeeping Forum – which you can join, and share information with beekeepers the world over.  One of the things in my  short beekeeping career that I am most proud of was that I got to meet Phil on a trip I made through the UK in 2008/2009, and I thank him for that, and as well for the Podcast interview he did with me back in August 2010, which can be found here. Phil probably has more to do with the existence of Gold Star Honeybees than I could ever accurately convey to him.  Thank you Phil!

Second there was Michael Bush.  He’s at Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes, if I really want to keep track of something I found on the internet, the only effective method is to print it out.  I don’t always like to do that, since it’s not the greenest method of keeping track of things, but when it came to Michael’s website, I chose to do it anyway.  By the time I was done, it represented quite an investment in paper and printer ink – not to mention a special trip to the store for a three-inch, three-ring binder to keep it in.  Huge.  History, math, opinion, tips and tricks, pictures, explanations… Michael is a very pragmatic sort of beekeeper and is frequently bemused by how difficult people sometimes seem to want to make beekeeping.  A tag line on his website says:  Everything works if you let it.  I’ve also seen a presentation he’s done titled, quite frankly, “Lazy Beekeeping”.  It really hits the nail on the head – it doesn’t make any sense to make things more complicated than they are – yet us humans, (with our big brains, and our opposable thumbs) sometimes seem to do just that and for no good reason.  Michael clears up a lot of that silliness and has clear and practical answers to a lot of the questions that come up in the world of natural beekeeping – never mind the type of equipment you are using.  I am pleased to say that I know Michael as well and he has devoted a significant chunk of time to clarifying some of my juvenile questions over the past few years.  I’m also proud that Michael has a Gold Star top bar hive running in Nebraska and reports that it is doing well, and that the Gold Star top bar design works really well!

Another name that came up early on for me was Marty Hardison.  Marty doesn’t keep up much of a website presence, but he’s currently out in Denver, CO keeping bees in places like Delaney Farms – part of DUG  – the Denver Urban Gardens system.  In 2010, Denver Urban Gardens celebrated the groundbreaking of their 100th community garden – and in a city that recently legalized beekeeping.  Go Denver!  Marty has a Gold Star hive out at Delaney Farm and they have been doing great.

Some other significant names that I fell across early on include:

Dee Lusby.  Dee runs the Organic Beekeeping Yahoo Group.  At last count, there were almost 4000 people on that list!  With over 88,000 posts, you can bet the answer to your question has probably been posted there.  Michael Bush is on that list a lot as well, so you get some great input from some very experienced beekeepers!

Dennis Murrell writes a Word Press blog called Bee Natural.  And that’s a guy up against some very harsh weather – located in Wyoming, Dennis was blogging about 5 to 15 degrees F BELOW ZERO on Thanksgiving.  Lots to say and loads of experience.

Jim Satterfield used to keep a great site, with a long list of good info here:  When I spoke with him to ask to be made a part of it, he said that he didn’t maintain it anymore, and in fact at this writing, it appears to be gone altogether.  The Northwest Arkansas Beekeepers website has a top bar link that closely resembles it but if anybody’s got a mirror copy, it would great to know about it.  NWA’s site is here:

Along the way I devoured a copy of Gunther Hauk’s book “Toward Saving the Honeybee”.  Gunther is a biodynamic beekeeper, who’s moved on from the Pfeiffer Center in New York to Spikenard Farm in Illinois, and from thence to a new location in Virginia.

Then there’s Sam Comfort.  A self-proclaimed “wing nut” with an anarcharist’s attitude.  We first met at a North East Treatment Free Beekeeping Conference in Leominster, Mass.  And if you’ve ever heard him play the ukelele, then you understand why he’s so well-loved.  There’s a video of that very phenomenon on our YouTube channel.

Now, with all this said, it turns out I still have more to say.  So let’s take a break – we’ll call this Part I and you stay tuned for Part II – coming soon!



2 Responses to “The internet is a very big place! Or… sorting through it all – Part I”

  1. Phil Chandler Says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Christy!

    It was a pleasure to meet you and to be part of your beekeeping journey. I’m glad you are starting to see the success you deserve.

  2. MikeH Says:

    if anybody’s got a mirror copy, it would great to know about it.

    Well! Ask and it is given! Here is a link to Jim Satterfield’s old site. Loads of info here, and thanks to Mike for locating this on the very big internet!


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