It was the third day of the Western Apicultural Society's 40th annual conference, and Oliver was there to show beekeepers how to determine the levels of Nosema or Varroa mite infection in their hives. He brought along his microscope, his four decades worth of beekeeping experience, and his humor.
His credentials: He owns and operates a small commercial beekeeping enterprise in the foothills of Grass Valley, Northern California. He and his two sons manage approximately 1000 colonies for migratory pollination, and they produce queens, nucs and honey.
Oliver holds two university degrees (BS) and master's (MS), specializing in entomology.
He is an avid scientist. He researches, analyzes and digests beekeeping information from all over the world in order not only to broaden his own depth of understanding and knowledge, but to develop practical solutions to many of today's beekeeping problems. He then shares that information with other beekeepers through his bee journal articles, worldwide speaking engagements and on his website, www.scientificbeekeeping.com. Oliver says on his website, "This is not a 'How You Should Keep Bees' site; rather, I'm a proponent of 'Whatever Works for You' beekeeping." He is never without a research project; he collaborates with the nation's leading bee scientists, and is a stickler for data. "I'm a 'data over dogma' guy, and I implore my readers to correct me on any information at this website that is out of date or not supported by evidence."
But back to his presentation. Got bees? Yes.
Oliver calmly reached into a hive and brought out a handful of nurse bees (the foragers were out foraging) as Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association newsletter editor Ettamarie Peterson watched. A longtime beekeeper and 4-H leader, she owns Peterson's Farm, Petaluma, a certified bee friendly farm. She marveled at the bees on his hand.
Seeking to share the bee-utiful bees, Oliver handed them over to her as photographers chronicled the encounter.
"See, they don't sting!" he said.
They did not. Here's proof!
Author - Communications specialist
Beekeeper-scientist Randy Oliver of Grass Valley gestures during his presentation. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Randy Oliver hands over bees to beekeeper Ettamarie Peterson of Petaluma, a member of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association and the Western Apicultural Society. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Beekeeper Etta Marie Peterson displays a handful of bees as a cell phone photographer captures the moment. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
If a bird in the hand is worth two in a bush, what's a handful of bees worth? Ettamarie Peterson, Petaluma beekeeper and member of the Sonoma County Beekeepers' Association and the Western Apicultural Society, displays a handful of nurse bees. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)